India`s nuke sub reactor prototype of Kalpakkam reactor
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Last Updated: Sunday, August 02, 2009, 23:34
Kalpakkam: The atomic reactor, the heart of India's first indigenously built nuclear submarine 'INS Arihant' launched recently, is a prototype of a land-based reactor tested successfully for the past three years at the Kalpakkam atomic plant here, atomic scientists said on Sunday.

The on-board reactor to power the submarine is a miniature version of an indigenous compact propulsion reactor tested successfully, Atomic Energy Commission Chairman Anil Kakodkar told reporters. The 80 MW reactor is powered using highly enriched uranium.

The major challenges for the atomic scientists were miniaturisation of the land based plant to fit it into the restricted space of a submarine and also making it lightweight but strong enough to endure the shock due to depth discharge, Srikumar Banerjee, Director of Bhaba Atomic Research Centre(BARC) told reporters.

"The reactor while withstanding the pitch and roll of a submarine should also be capable of accelerating and decelerating at a quick pace--unlike a land-based power plant which would ramp up speed in a gradual manner," he said.

Kakodkar said it is a creditable achievement for the country's atomic scientists to indigenously build a submarine reactor since it "is not available for any cost".

It is not just building a nuclear reactor to power a submarine for us but it is capacity building in the country to get into high technology areas, Kakodar said.

Banerjee said there are many "firsts" in the design and construction of the reactor.

"First of all, such a compact reactor we have never built earlier and this is built for submarine application. Normally when we develop a reactor for land use, there the concern about the movement of the ship and other issues don't come," he said.

Also, we have to see all the safety angles in a submarine reactor much more than that for a land-based reactor because it will be operating in the deep seas where it is totally isolated from the rest of the world, Banerjee added.

Banerjee said between 300 and 400 people were involved in the Arihant nuke power project with 100 from BARC directly involved in reactor development and engineering.

Bureau Report

First Published: Sunday, August 02, 2009, 23:34

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