Kudankulam N-plant close to achieving criticality
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Last Updated: Wednesday, July 20, 2011, 15:28
Mumbai: India's first 1000 MW nuclear reactor built at Kudankulam in Tamil Nadu by the Nuclear Power Corporation (NPCIL) in collaboration with Russia is undergoing several commissioning processes after much delay, and it is being currently tested for 'Hot Run', just two steps away from 'criticality'.

While the thermal power plants in the country are struggling to increase the unit size to 800 MW, this achievement is a significant milestone, Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) sources said.

The next step will be the loading of actual fuel and according to DAE its clearance has been already received from Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB). However, the Board maintained that the permission will be given only when the 'Hot Run' tests are successfully completed.

The criticality (final commissioning for power production) is expected before the end of this year, the sources said.

The construction of The VVER-100 type of Russian reactor as part of Kudankulan Nuclear Power Project (KKNPP) began in 2002. Although it was progressing ahead of schedule for first few years, it was facing enormous delay in going 'critical' (almost over three years) due to several reasons.

But the observation that several cables were missing to be incorporated by designers in the reactor almost towards completion of the plant 2009-2010) could not be explained which further delayed the commissioning, the sources said.

The designers discovered that several km of power and control cables in the reactor were 'missed' after the completion of double containment of the reactor.

The delay of Kudankulam Nuclear Power project (KKNPP) Unit 1 was due to several factors including the reorganisation and reversal of reorganisation of Russian nuclear industry and the major 'miss' of important power cable, the sources said adding although major equipment were received from Russia well in time, difficulties were experienced in receiving the material in sequential order.

Asked how the serious cable problem was rectified, the sources said, the cables were meant for power supply to various instrumentation in different buildings.

"A year ago, a major operation had to be undertaken to incorporate the 'missing' cable by making new opening in the containment domes (breaking open the concrete walls) and was sealed again after bringing the cables from the switch yard to inside," the sources said.

When asked about the progress of the second unit of KKNPP, the sources said care has been taken and is progressing well to be commissioned next year.

The sources also said for Units 3 and 4 of KKNPP, more indigenous components will be incorporated to reduce the delay and there will not be such delays like 10 years. The units 3 and 4 will not take more than five to six years for completion, they said.

The advantage with Russian reactors is that it would be only a duplication after working on VVER-1000 for the last 10 years. "We know the manufacturers, and executing the project will not be so difficult as Indian manufacturers who have experience in nuclear technology will be actively participating," the sources added.


First Published: Wednesday, July 20, 2011, 15:28

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