Friday, 28th October 2005


Dr. Srikumar Banerjee
Director, Bhabha Atomic Research Centre

Dr. Kakodkar, Chairman, Atomic Energy Commission, Senior Members of the DAE Family present here and dear colleagues,

It is indeed a matter of great pleasure and proud privilege for me to extend a warm welcome to you all to celebrate the 96th birth anniversary of Dr. Homi J. Bhabha - the founder of this great institution, Bhabha Atomic Research Centre. As a mark of our collective salutation and admiration to Dr. Bhabha, every year we gather on 30th October morning to celebrate his birthday by taking stock of our achievements during the previous year and rededicating ourselves towards achieving our cherished goal of improving the quality of life of our people through the development of nuclear science and technology. We are also committed to pursue R&D activities to remain at the forefront of nuclear science and technology and to contribute towards the national security.

I am extremely happy to announce that last year has been yet another successful year in our developmental efforts. The list of activities carried out and achievements made at our Centre during the last year is too long to narrate and, therefore, I will attempt to give a flavour of them by selecting a few illustrative examples taken from areas such as reactor technology, fuel cycle technology, basic research and developments in health care, food preservation and agriculture.

BARC has provided strong R&D support to NPCIL in design, development, safety assessment, safety review and successful commissioning of TAPS-4, the 540 MWe PHWR which has been connected to the grid on 4th June, 2005.

Flux Mapping System comprising a number of self powered neutron detectors developed at BARC was used for generating neutron flux profiles required for zonal power control in the 540 MWe large reactor core. 

Some of the other developments at BARC for this reactor at Tarapur were; Reactor Regulating System, fully computerized Reactor Protection System, channel temperature monitoring system, dual processor hot standby process control system for PHT and steam generator and programmable digital control system. Acceptance testing of the first fuelling machine of this reactor was carried out in our Fuelling Machine Test Facility to qualify it for reactor worthiness. An in-house code Dyna540 was used in designing the steam side pressure program. A scheme for selective removal of gadolinium nitrate in presence of boron from moderator system was successfully deployed during its first approach to criticality.

R&D support BARC is providing to the ongoing PHWR program has helped NPCIL in implementing the following: 

Indigenously developed Sludge Lancing Equipment (SLE) for sludge lancing of tube sheet of PHWR steam generators was formally handed over to NPCIL and was shipped later to Kakrapar.

Analytical and technical support for the life extension of coolant channels of Narora - Unit 1 was provided to obtain regulatory clearance for further operation. Wet scraping tools were successfully used in coolant channels of KAPS-1 & 2 and NAPS-2 to obtain samples from pressure tubes to estimate hydrogen pick up. 

Gamma ray spectrometric method was successfully performed on PHT and Moderator piping in the purification building in NAPS2 for identifying the radionuclides causing high dose.

Sparger channels designed and developed at BARC have recently been installed in MAPS-1 for facilitating moderator entry into the calandria for full power operation.

The on-line diagnostic system for detecting blade vibrations in steam turbines has been incorporated at various nuclear and thermal power stations including TAPS 3. 

A Real time Online Decision Support System "IRODOS", has been developed for analysing and decision making during any off-site nuclear emergency at Nuclear Power Plants. Its operating domain is 150 km x 150 km around a Nuclear Power Plant site. In an unlikely event of an emergency, this system will carry out real-time as well as predictive calculations of weather and dispersion of radioactive releases for the determination of the radiological dose and implementation of emergency counter-measures. First prototype system developed is programmed for Narora Atomic Power Station, and is currently in operation at Emergency Response Centre of BARC. It is proposed to set up 17 Emergency Response Centres across the country to respond to nuclear and radiological emergencies.

Our research reactors CIRUS, APSARA and DHRUVA have been operational with high availability factors. 

After complete refurbishment, the full power operation of CIRUS at 40 MWt was achieved in November 2004 with an average availability factor of about 70%. In December 2004, highest ever availability factor of 94.78 % & capacity factor of 90.82 % for a month were achieved since its commissioning in 1960. 

A 30T/day desalination unit based on Low Temperature Vacuum Evaporation Process has been integrated with CIRUS for waste heat utilization. Product water from desalination unit is being utilized for meeting the make up requirement of demineralized water for primary coolant system. 

The reactor was also utilized for thorium irradiation in Graphite reflector region, production of radioisotopes and neutron activation analysis of samples in pneumatic carrier facility. 

Apsara was well utilized for various R&D activities including Fast Reactor Shielding Experiments, Neutron Activation Analysis, Radiation damage studies, Forensic research and Neutron radiography. 

DHRUVA reactor continued to be the major facility for radioisotope production and for providing neutron beams for the national facility for neutron beam research with a high availability factor of 75%. Two more batches of ~10mg quantities of Pa-231 have been irradiated at DHRUVA to produce U-232 required for experimental work. 

Production of gaseous radionuclides Argon-41 and Krypton-79 has been achieved for the first time. The availability of these gas tracers, used to follow the gas phase, will be an invaluable tool for the refinery industries.

Significant progress has been made in the program on design of new reactor systems.

The 300 MWe Advanced Heavy Water Reactor designed in BARC is currently undergoing pre-licensing safety appraisal by AERB. A very substantial improvement in the physics design by reducing the lattice pitch in the core from 245 mm to 225 mm has been implemented on the basis of our continuing R&D. This has helped in increasing the average discharge burn-up of the AHWR fuel from 24000 MWD/T to 38000 MWD/T, and has also improved its safety characteristics further. 

An Integral Test Loop, a facility for simulating main Heat Transport system and Safety Systems of AHWR has been commissioned. The 40 meter tall experimental facility extends over nine floors of a building. Large scale engineering experiments in the Integrated Test Loop are being performed to study the natural circulation of coolant in the main heat transport loop, stability of flow, validation of the start up method and the performance of emergency core cooling system under accidental conditions.

BARC is also working out the detailed design of the proposed 600 MWth Compact High Temperature Reactor which will operate at 900oC and will serve as a technology demonstration facility. It is envisaged that this reactor will use pebble bed kind of core configuration with molten lead as its coolant. Studies were conducted to increase the core life of the reactor from 5 full power years to 15 full power years. On the basis of detailed studies, the basic guidelines for the design of a High Temperature Reactor for producing hydrogen have been developed. Developments of refractory metal alloys, aluminide and silicide coatings on them, carbon based materials and compact beryllia shapes have progressed well for applications in the high temperature reactor.

BARC designed Inclined Fuel Transfer Machine for the Fast Breeder Reactor has been taken up for manufacturing by BHAVINI. Design of hoisting system has been evaluated by establishing double chain hoisting test facility at Hall - 7.

Let me now tell you about some important achievements in the fuel cycle development program.

Significant uranium deposits in Tummallapalle region of Cuddapah basin had earlier been established by AMD. This deposit is hosted in alkaline rocks, therefore, conventional acid leaching is not suitable. BARC in collaboration with AMD and UCIL has setup a pilot plant at Jaduguda to treat 300 kg. of ore per batch to test the applicability of alkaline leaching process for Tummallapallle ore deposit. The pilot plant based on pressure leaching under oxygen pressure has shown very promising results and a process yield of 81% has been achieved. The development of pressure alkali leaching will open up the possibility of processing of other uranium ores which are not amenable to acid leaching.

The unique high Pu mixed carbide fuel for FBTR has now reached a burn-up exceeding 145 GWd/T. FBTR is now being used as a test bed for studying behaviour of our future fast reactor core structurals and fuel materials. An experimental fuel subassembly of PFBR fuel design is under irradiation - which has reached a burn-up 52GWd/T which is 50% of peak target burn-up. 

As a part of our development of high burn up fuel for PHWRs, 50 MOX fuel bundles were introduced in a PHWR at Kakrapar. 25 MOX bundles have already achieved the target burn-up of about 11 GWd/T which is nearly double the average burn up of standard Natural Uranium fuel. 

BARC has delivered 200 pins of MOX fuel (U-44% Pu) to IGCAR which is expected to be loaded into FBTR core during the next reloading campaign. 

Keeping in view the needs of development of nuclear fuels and materials for new generation of reactors, a state of the art Metallurgical hot Cells Facility has been designed and constructed at BARC and will be shortly commissioned. The 106 Curie capacity hot cells are provided with 1.5 meter thick high density hematite concrete shielding capable of handling high burnup thorium fuel. 

Coating technology has been successfully applied for developing neutron sensors for AHWR and P4 facilities, for the coating of uranium components for Bhabhatron and alumina coating on graphite moulds for reducing the contamination of carbon in uranium ingots.

A 50 ton multiaxial component integrity testing machine has been commissioned. It is now possible to evaluate mechanical properties of materials at various length scales starting from the atomic scale to nanometer - micrometer - millimeter and finally to the component level. The technology for fabrication of shape memory alloy components for applications in the Light Combat Aircraft is being transferred to Aeronautical Development Authority for their large scale production.

The process instrumentation system of Plutonium Plant, Trombay has been augmented for enhancing operational convenience and plant safety. Reprocessing of spent fuel from research reactors has been resumed in the plant. Some of the problems encountered in the operation of PREFRE, Tarapur were successfully solved and plant continues to operate satisfactorily.

Waste Immobilization Plant, Trombay is operational for vitrification of high level radioactive waste and the plant has successfully produced 100 canisters of vitrified product. A campaign for tank remediation by ion-exchange (TRIX- II) for treatment of intermediate level liquid waste at Trombay using indigenously developed ion exchange resin has helped in a substantial reduction of the liquid level in waste tanks. 

Let me give you a brief account of the important achievements in basic research in Physics, chemistry and biological sciences: 

A high resolution ultraviolet beam line for Indus-1 consisting of optical focusing system and a spectrometer incorporating a grating of 4800 lines/mm was commissioned with lower wavelength cut-off at 1100 Å. The spectral resolution 0.03A has been achieved.

In the programme of Indus-2 beam line development, substantial progress is made in the fabrication of three beam lines for extended x-ray absorption fine structure studies, for Photoelectron spectroscopy and for Energy dispersive x-ray diffraction.

Small angle neutron scattering was used to understand the hydration process and time evolution of pore structure in cements. Very different results were obtained for hydration with light water and heavy water that need to be understood in terms of dynamical scaling theories. 

High resolution structures of two important proteins, namely Gelonin and Saporin, have been determined. 

A variety of high performance optical devices such as polarised beam combiners, narrow band pass filters, high reflecting mirrors based on multilayer coatings for 1.315 mm laser resonator were developed for certain critical applications.

The studies on auto-ionization Rydberg series of europium atom have established a total of 225 auto-ionization levels. Such spectroscopic investigations have their importance in laser isotope separation.

In continuation of our studies on biomolecules using indigenously built MALDI-Time of Flight Mass Spectroscopy, the mass spectra of trypsin digested lysozyme and cytochrome proteins at different concentration levels were recorded. All the expected fragment peptides were detected and resolved and their molecular mass determined with high precision.

Indigenously built Triple Collector Mass Spectrometer has been delivered to RMP, Mysore. The instrument is currently being used for measuring the isotopic ratios in UF6 process gas.

The ENSTAR, Scintillator detector array built in BARC has been made operational at COSY, Jülich and the first experiment using this array has been completed.

Physics design simulation studies for the Low Energy Heavy Ion Particle Accelerator (LEHIPA) have been completed.

As a part of our research activities in Chemistry, catalyst loaded ion exchange resin (CLIX) was evaluated for its suitability to remove dissolved oxygen in the coolant systems of PHWRs. Experiments carried out in a simulation system indicated that dissolved oxygen can be reduced from a concentration of 7 ppm to less than 10 ppb using this resin and hydrogen. 

Nanoferrites containing cobalt and nickel and in the size range 2 - 50 nm were prepared using micro emulsion method and polymer combustion route. Analysis of the ferrites by Mossbauer technique indicated that ferrites having particle size of 2-10 nm exhibit super paramagnetic relaxation. 

In the programme on biodegradation/bioremediation of organic and inorganic wastes aerobic microbial granules were successfully cultivated in laboratory scalesequencing batch reactor. The developed granules were successfully used for biodegradation of organic compounds using laboratory scale column reactors.

High purity Pyrromethene 567 laser dye has been synthesized and characterized for the first time in India. Laser characterization of the indigenously synthesized dye showed good lasing efficiencies and proper tuning range.

BARC has a very strong base in safety studies and in engineering research in the context of nuclear power plants 

Detailed prelicensing calculations, comprising of a large number of safety analyses in different categories, were made for Advanced Heavy Water Reactor. These involve design calculations for evaluation of performance of components like valves, controllers, isolation condensers, etc.

In the area of material modelling, an in-house code has been developed based on the discrete-dislocation plasticity. The code is used to generate stress-strain data of common materials.

A 16" pipe with part-through-flaw has been tested under the combined loads of internal pressure and bending moment to demonstrate the leak-before-break phenomenon. 

Structural analysis was performed and required modifications were suggested for a 32 meter diameter dish antenna to be used by ISTRAC for CHANDRAYANN-1 mission.

On-line 3-D creep-fatigue monitoring system has been developed which is working satisfactorily at NTPC Dadri. Similar systems at HWP Tuticorin and Kota are being upgraded.

For the first time, measurement of catalyst mixing characteristics in Fluidized Catalytic Cracking Unit (FCCU) was carried out using La-140 radiotracer for Guwahati Refinery of Indian Oil Corporation Limited.

Isotope Hydrological Investigations were carried out at the request of Himalayan Environmental Studies and Conservation Organization (HESCO), Dehradun to identify the recharge zones of the drying springs in the Mountainous Himalayan Region and Uttaranchal, which will benefit the population in the region.

A pulsed Nd:YAG laser has been used for surface etching of ThO2 pellets for metallographic evaluation. The principal advantage of the technique is that it generates far lesser volume of waste in comparison to conventional processes and therefore ideal for post irradiation examination of fuel. 

A 4 MHz 40 kW, inductively coupled RF Plasma Reactor has been commissioned. The ICP torch has been operated up to 15 kW power level under varying pressure conditions from a few Torr to about 200 Torr. 

The 40 kW atmospheric plasma spray system has been adapted for developing stabilized zirconia duplex coatings, which have potential applications in high temperature reactors due to their suitability in the environment of highly reactive molten metals. 

A 24 kW Electron Beam Welding Gun, capable of producing a penetration of around 50 mm in stainless steel has been indigenously developed and commissioned and successfully operated at full power. The unit operates at 80 kV using a tantalum formed cathode and will be used mainly for welding thick sections of stainless steel, copper and their alloys. 

A 1800 deflection, 130mm-strip EB gun has been designed, developed and tested for its performance up to 80kW on copper target placed in a water-cooled copper crucible. This configuration of gun and crucible will yield a high evaporation rate from a smaller pool in laser isotope separation experiments

A helium gas based Cryogenic Refrigerator (1kW at 20K) for cryodistillation of hydrogen .is undergoing operational trials.

BARC has supplied three desalination units (5000 litres/day capacity each) in the Tsunami affected areas of Tamil Nadu for a wide range of feed water quality. Two desalination units were installed in Nagapattinam General Hospital and Chandrapadi village while the trailor mounted RO desalination unit has been put up at Sadras village for providing drinking water to the local community. Desalination and water purification technologies developed by BARC are used in different states of the country.

Our technology for online domestic water purifier based on ultrafiltration polysulfone membrane for producing bacteria free safe drinking water (@40 litres/day) has been transferred to 14 parties in the different parts of the country, out of which six parties have already launched their products in the market. It operates at tap pressure and removes turbidity and pathogens without use of any chemical and electricity. 

An MoU was signed with National Institute of Ocean Technology (NIOT) for providing consultancy on design review of 1.0 lakh litres/day low temperature desalination plant using ocean thermal energy gradient for sea water desalination. The plant was recently installed and commissioned at Kavaratti (Lakshadweep) by NIOT.

The first indigenous teletherapy machine, name "BHABHATRON", has been developed and commissioned at ACTREC, Navi Mumbai. The technology for production of the machine is transferred to private industry.

A robotic system for deactivation of anti-tank mine fuses has been developed for Ordanance Factory, Khamaria, Jabalpur.

An automated gamma scanning system for inspection, trouble-shooting and process optimization of industrial columns has been developed and field-tested at HWP, Manuguru.

The Fluoride Detection Kit for detection of fluoride in groundwater, has been adjudged as the best in a survey sponsored by UNICEF.

The technology for making banana juice and powder without adding any external enzymes was transferred to a party in Thailand. RF controller and support modules for super conducting LINAC supplied to Australian National University (ANU), Canberra, Australia has been successfully installed. 

The advances in computers and computational technology developed in BARC was not only instrumental in providing the best computational platforms to scientists of BARC but also to many others in the country. BARC achieved yet another milestone by developing new version of ANUPAM parallel processing system attaining highest computing performance of 365 Gflops for High Performance Linpack (HPL) benchmark on 128 node (dual Pentium Xeon at 2.4 GHz) system. 

Another successful development was that of high-resolution (5120x4096) wall-size tiled display system using commercially available multiple LCD's (4x4) interfaced with a parallel cluster for large volume data visualization purpose.

Grid middleware tools namely SHIVA & Grid-View developed as part of LCG DAE-CERN collaboration have been chosen by CERN for regular deployment on CERN grid.

Nearly 1000 vitrified Cesium-137 brachytherapy sources prepared at the Radiopharmaceuticals Division by an improved method, has enabled BRIT to supply them to the hospitals for therapy of cervical cancers. Preparation and supply of Iodine-125 brachytherapy sources was continued for treatment of patients with eye cancers.

A novel radiopharmaceutical employing Lutetium-177 has been developed for use as an agent for palliation of pain due to skeletal meta stasis. Based on the excellent results from studies in animals, this molecule will soon be taken up for human clinical trials.

During this year one new soyabean variety Trombay-Amravati Soya-38 and one Mung variety Trombay Mung Bean-37 were released and notified by Ministry of Agriculture, Government of India for commercial cultivation in the Vidarbha region and in the North Eastern Plains Zone respectively. With this, the number of Trombay crop varieties released and notified so far has reached 26.

Five more new crop varieties (two in groundnut, and one each in soyabean, mustard and sunflower) were identified for commercial release by State Agriculture Universities/ICAR.

Four mutant types (two in groundnut, one each in sunflower and sesame) were registered by the National Bureau of Plant Genetic Resources, ICAR for their novel characteristics.

Dear Colleagues, I am sure you will all appreciate that the achievements we make in BARC are possible only because we all work here in harmony. It is sometimes not so easily visible how an individual's work gets integrated into the overall programme. It is, therefore our duty to constantly highlight how constructive interference of the contributions of individuals finally lead to big happenings in our programme. Our strength lies in this synergy. In this context, I would like to mention that the contributions made by every segment of our scientific, administrative, support and security staff are equally important in maintaining the overall excellence.

You will recall how closely our colleagues cooperated in handling the difficult situation we faced during the recent flooding in Mumbai. I take this opportunity to express my deep sense of gratitude to all those who helped in averting the crisis during this flooding incident by their untiring work. The clearing up of the areas affected within the short time and recovering many of the damaged equipment have been possible due to the dedicated and coordinated effort of our colleagues.

Friends, you all will agree that we have many more challenges ahead of us particularly in the current era when the atomic energy program in the country is fast opening up. With the global changes we are witnessing in the area of nuclear collaboration, there is a strong possibility of inducting different nuclear reactor systems in our program. The country is also looking forward to rapid energy growth. We must be prepared to rise to the occasion to meet the challenges being posed to us to master the new technologies in the near future by expanding our research horizons wider and further.

Our own program on development of innovative reactor systems, accelerator driven subcritical system, the early thorium utilization has their own priorities and challenges ahead of us. We are also on the verge of defining our goals for the forthcoming XIth plan projects in line with these programs. As you know, we will be celebrating the golden jubilee year of BARC during 2006-07 and there can be no better time than this when we are required to poise for accepting major technological challenges. Developing our new campus at Vizag encompassing over 2000 hectares of land will undoubtedly be a great fillip to our expanding programme. 

While we must work together for achieving the above well focused and time bound goals, we as a scientific community, need to strive harder to ensure providing an excellent academic environment in our organization. The newly established Homi Bhabha National University which will become functional soon is a step in this direction. The spirit of enquiry human creativity and urge to excel must be nurtured particularly amongst our younger colleagues, so that research leading to new discoveries and innovative ideas receives adequate support and the so called Blue Sky Research also remains within our purview.

Friends, On today's occasion of Founders Day celebration, let us rededicate ourselves for sustaining our developmental efforts for taking this premier organization to newer heights and contribute to the national cause in a major way I think this pledge should be the best homage to our founder Dr. Homi J. Bhabha.

Jai Hind!