Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor

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Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor
Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor is located in Tamil Nadu
Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor
Location of Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor
Country India
Location Madras
Coordinates 12°33′11″N 80°10′24″E / 12.55306°N 80.17333°E / 12.55306; 80.17333Coordinates: 12°33′11″N 80°10′24″E / 12.55306°N 80.17333°E / 12.55306; 80.17333
Status Under construction
Construction began 2004
Construction cost 5,677 crore (US$885.16 million)
Owner(s) BHAVINI
Operator(s) BHAVINI
Nuclear power station
Reactor type fast breeder
Fuel supplier Advanced Fuel Fabrication Facility (BARC)
Power generation
Nameplate capacity 500 MW

The Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor (PFBR) is a 500 MWe fast breeder nuclear reactor presently being constructed at the Madras Atomic Power Station in Kalpakkam, India.[1] The Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research (IGCAR) is responsible for the design of this reactor. The facilitiy builds on the decades of experience gained from operating the lower power Fast Breeder Test Reactor(FBTR).


As of 2007 the reactor was expected to begin functioning in 2010 but is now expected to achieve first criticality in early 2018.[2] The Kalpakkam PFBR is using uranium-238 not thorium, to breed new fissile material, in a sodium-cooled fast reactor design. The power island of this project is being engineered by Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited, largest power equipment utility of India.

The surplus plutonium (or uranium-233 for thorium reactors) from each fast reactor can be used to set up more such reactors and grow the nuclear capacity in tune with India's needs for power. The PFBR is part of the three-stage nuclear power program.

India has the capability to use thorium cycle based processes to extract nuclear fuel. This is of special significance to the Indian nuclear power generation strategy as India has one of the world's largest reserves of thorium, which could provide power for more than 10,000 years,[3][4] and perhaps as long as 60,000 years.[5][6]

The design of this reactor was started in the 1980s, as a prototype for a 600 MW FBR. Construction of the first two FBR are planned at Kalpakkam, after a year of successful operation of the PFBR. Other four FBR are planned to follow beyond 2030, at sites to be defined.[7]

As of July 2017 the reactor is in final preparation to go critical.[8]

Technical details

The reactor will be a pool-type reactor with 1,750 tonnes of sodium as coolant. Designed to generate 500 MWe of electrical power, with an operational life of 40 years, it will burn a mixed uranium-plutonium MOX fuel, a mixture of PuO
and UO
. A fuel burnup of 100 GWd/t is expected. The Advanced Fuel Fabrication Facility (AFFF), under the direction of BARC, Tarapur, is responsible for the fuel rods manufacturing. AFFF comes under " Nuclear Recycle Board" of Bhabha Atomic Research Center. AFFF has been responsible for fuel rod manufacturing of various types in the past.

Safety considerations

There are two independent SCRAM shutdown systems installed, designed to shut the reactor down effectively within a second. The reactor also has decay heat removal systems consisting of four independent circuits of 8MWt capacity each.[9]

The fact that the PFBR is cooled by liquid sodium creates additional safety requirements to isolate the coolant from the environment, especially in a loss of coolant accident scenario, since sodium explodes if it comes into contact with water and burns when in contact with air. This latter event occurred in the Monju test reactor in Japan during 1995. Another consideration with the use of sodium as a coolant is the absorption of neutrons to generate the radioactive isotope 24
, which has a 15-hour half life.[10]

See also


  1. ^ Baldev Raj, S.C. Chetal and P. Chellapandi (8 January 2010). "Great expectations". Nuclear Engineering International. 
  2. ^ "Prototype fast breeder reactor to be commissioned in two months: IGCAR director". The Times of India. 2017-12-07. Retrieved 2018-01-26. 
  3. ^ Chris Rhodes (26 February 2012). "Thorium can power civilization for over 3000 years". Retrieved 23 March 2012. 
  4. ^ Rose, David (12 June 2011). "Thorium deposits adequate for sustaining world for 10,000 years". London: The Daily Mail. Retrieved 23 March 2012. 
  5. ^ MacKay, David J. C. (20 February 2009). Sustainable Energy - Without the Hot Air. UIT Cambridge Ltd. p. 166. Retrieved 2012-03-23. 
  6. ^ Rodricks, Dan (9 May 2011). "Thor's nuclear-powered hammer". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved 23 March 2012. 
  7. ^ "India plans to construct six more fast breeder reactors". The Economic Times. 1 December 2015. Retrieved 15 December 2015. 
  8. ^ "Nuclear reactor at Kalpakkam: World's envy, India's pride". The Times of India. 2017-11-26. Retrieved 2 July 2017. 
  9. ^ "Design of 500 MWe Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor" (PDF). 

External links

  • "Kalpakkam PFBR to be completed ahead of schedule; 4 more to come up by 2020". The Hindu. 7 September 2005. 
  • The design of the Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor, Nuclear Engineering and Design, April 2006
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