New Delhi: India plans to commission the first-of-its-kind Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor (PFBR) early next year, kickstarting the second stage of its nuclear
The 500 MWe reactor, being developed by the Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research (IGCAR) at Kalpakkam in Tamil Nadu, uses a unique mix of uranium and plutonium which significantly enhances the capability to generate electricity per tonne of fuel utilised.
The indigenously-developed PFBR is at an advanced stage of construction under the aegis of state-owned Bhartiya Nabhikiya Vidyut Nigam (BHAVINI).
"The construction will be completed by September and fuel will be lowered by December. We expect commissioning by early 2013," IGCAR director SC Chetal said here.
The technology developed by scientists at IGCAR was unique and the Indian PFBR would be the first such nuclear plant to be commissioned.
Some other countries, including Korea, are also developing fast breeder reactors but they may be commissioned only in 2025.
India plans to have at least five more 500 MW fast breeder reactors by 2020, two of which could be set up at Kalpakkam.
Critics of the breeder reactors cite high costs for such plants, particularly for reprocessing the spent fuel.
"Breeder reactors are costly and unreliable. Reprocessing of plutonium is more costly than storing spent fuel," according Frank von Hippel, Professor at Princeton University and co-chair of International Panel on Fissile Materials.