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India`s nuke sub reactor prototype of Kalpakkam reactor

Last Updated: Sunday, August 2, 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 2, 2009 - 23:34
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