Founder's Day 2004 - Director's Speech

      Dr. Kakodkar, Chairman, Atomic Energy Commission, Senior Members of 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 all of you to celebrate the 95th birth anniversary of Dr. Homi J. Bhabha – the legendary 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 this auspicious morning to celebrate his birthday by taking stock of our achievements during the previous year and rededicating ourselves to accelerate our developmental efforts for utilization of nuclear science and technology for:
         (a) improving the quality of life of our people,
         (b) staying at the forefront of nuclear science and technology in order to retain the place of honour and
              dignity for India amongst the world community; and
         (c) also for enhancing the national security

      For improving the quality of life, our primary mandate is:
         (i) to provide energy security by way of generation of nuclear power that is safe, reliable, economical and
             eco-friendly, and
         (ii) to utilize radioisotopes and spin-off technologies in non-power sector namely in nuclear desalination,
             agriculture, food preservation, isotope hydrology and industry.

      I am extremely happy to announce that last year has been yet another successful year in our developmental efforts to exploit nuclear science and technology, as we march forward to achieve our cherished goals. The list of developmental 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.

      BARC continues to provide R&D support to NPCIL. For 500 MWe PHWRs, a test facility which would be used for calibration, pre-commissioning and testing fuelling machine heads has been commissioned. Ram assembly of fuelling machine which has been tested for approximately 150 channel operation is under long term testing. 

      In the area of control and instrumentation of 500 MWe PHWRs, the noteworthy developments have been in coolant channel temperature monitoring system, process control system for primary heat transport and steam generators featuring state-of-art Ethernet based communication on fibre optic lines. Full computerization of the reactor protection system and installation of programmable digital comparator for process control are also important developments for 500 MWe reactors. Software verification and validation of these systems comply current AERB guidelines. A reactivity meter based on Kalman filtering technique has been developed and experimentally validated for application in thermal reactors.

      The inclined fuel transfer machine for 500 MWe PFBR has been designed. This machine will be used for exchanging fuel between the reactor and the fuel storage area. A similar design has also been adopted for transferring fuel for AHWR.

      Several activities have been initiated in connection with the development of AHWR. Subsequent to peer review of the detailed project report by NPCIL, the issues raised by the reviewers have been addressed. Detailed engineering and design validation of AHWR are being carried out. Several experiments currently under progress include tests on advanced accumulator and passive containment coolers and establishing two phase natural circulation related characteristics under high pressure and high temperature. Several advanced safety features of AHWR arise out of passive components and systems. The design of a passive valve which will automatically divert steam to isolation condenser following a reactor trip has been completed. A number of instruments with associated software were developed to measure void fraction in two phase flow. Design of fuel handling and storage system for AHWR has been brought to an advanced stage. Preparations are under way for pre-licensing appraisal by AERB. Under the IAEA sponsored International Project on Innovative Nuclear Reactors and Fuel Cycles (INPRO), a case study shows high potential for the AHWR design to meet the IAEA requirements for sustainable development of nuclear energy. 

      The other innovative reactor being developed at BARC is the High Temperature Reactor, which is being designed to operate at a temperature of about 1000ºC. Development of fuel and structural materials suitable for operating at such high temperatures will be of primary concern for this work. Design of a test set up for a passive power regulation system has been completed. To study the thermal hydraulics and the corrosion compatibility behaviour of lead and lead bismuth based liquid metal coolant to be used in this reactor, natural circulation driven liquid metal loops of different scales are being set up. Analytical and experimental work are in progress for the development of liquid metal heat pipes. 

      CIRUS reactor, which has recently been refurbished, is in operation with an average availability factor of about 80%. A desalination unit of 30 tonne per day capacity, based on low temperature vacuum evaporation process, has been integrated with the CIRUS reactor to demonstrate utilization of low temperature waste heat for desalination of sea water. APSARA shielding corner cavity has been extensively utilized for studying neutron attenuation through models of various shielding materials. These experiments are providing vital information for optimizing the shielding design for 500 MWe PFBR. Experiments for evaluating radiation streaming through various types and sizes of ducts embedded in solid concrete models have also been conducted for AHWR design. 

      DHRUVA reactor continues to be the major contributor for radioisotope production and has served as a national facility for neutron beam research. A number of research scholars from various academic institutions in the country participated in neutron beam research under the aegis of the Inter-University Consortium for DAE Facilities (IUC-DAEF). 

      Quality assurance activities related to fuels and reactor core components as well as in-service inspection of PHWR coolant channels, BWR core channels and primary heat transport system piping have been continued.

      To achieve high burn ups in PHWR fuel, fission gas release, clad corrosion, hydriding and deterioration in clad mechanical properties are being assessed by post-irradiation examination of fuel bundles from KAPS with a burn up of about 15,000 MWD/T. As a part of life management of pressure tubes, garter spring repositioning, in-service inspection using BARCIS, sliver sampling and analysis for hydrogen content were carried out on a large number of pressure tubes of RAPS-1 reactor and based on the data generated, RAPS-1 was rehabilitated for power generation. Scrape sliver samples obtained from the pressure tubes of NAPS-1 were analysed for safety assessment.

      Prototype experimental mixed oxide fuel cluster of PFBR fuel design has been fabricated and is presently under irradiation in FBTR. This fuel has already seen a burn up of the order of 25,000 MWD per tonne. In order to operate FBTR at high power, a hybrid core of mixed carbide and MOX fuel with the composition, UO2 – 45% PuO2 is envisaged. Thermo physical properties of this high plutonium MOX fuel and fuel clad compatibility have been found to be satisfactory for use of this fuel in FBTR. 

      As a part of our efforts to develop high burn up in PHWRs, MOX fuel bundles containing about 0.4% plutonium have been designed and about 50 bundles were fabricated. Some of these have already been loaded in Kakrapar Atomic Power Station Unit 1. This is the first time MOX fuel bundles have been loaded on such a large scale in any commercially operating PHWR anywhere in the world. Fabrication of natural uranium fuel clusters for AHWR critical facility is in progress and the required number of 65 clusters will be delivered by December this year.

      Th-230/Th-232 isotopic ratio was determined for the first time using thermal ionization mass spectrometry in unirradiated and irradiated thoria samples. This ratio is important to calculate the contribution of Th-230 towards U-232 build up.

      During the year, one of the major achievements in the technology development area has been the design and development of 1 kW cryo-distillation unit. The plant consists of cold box with components such as a pair of turbo expanders, heat exchangers, gas purifiers and sensors for monitoring of temperature, pressure and vibration. The turbo expander is designed to operate at a speed of around 2,40,000 RPM. Currently, the refrigerator is undergoing initial testing for cool down time, turbine speeds, vibration, etc. 

      In the area of remote handling and robotics, important achievements include the development of a mobile robot ‘SmartNav’ for remote surveying and inspection, development of a prototype Micro-arrayer for DNA analysis, and system for remotised rocket fuelling and missile fuelling for INS-TUNIR. The installation of 10 MeV - 10 kW Radio Frequency electron Linac has been completed at the Electron Beam Centre, Kharghar, Navi Mumbai. The 500 keV accelerator is in continuous use for surface curing applications. High power pulse electron accelerator KALI-5000 has been commissioned at an energy of 650 keV and an electron beam power of 40 GW. High power microwaves having frequency in the range of 3-5 GHz and power 1-2 GW have been generated.

      BARC technology for B-10 enrichment based on exchange distillation and ion exchange process was transferred to Heavy Water Board. The plant set up in Talcher has been able to produce over 90% enriched B-10 suitable for detector applications. A bench scale thermal denitration experimental facility has been commissioned. This has a capacity of 10 LPH feed and comprises solid circulation, electrical heating, feed spraying and off-gas treatment systems. The development of this technology will ensure treatment of both product and waste nitrate streams in the nuclear fuel cycle.

     A fluorine electrolyser of 6000 Amps current rating has been successfully commissioned and integrated with the fluorination plant. Developmental work for improvement of specific energy consumption in the electrolytic cell is continuing. 

      More than 25 MOUs have been signed with various organizations for technology transfer. Ultra-filtration polysulfone membrane technology has been provided to a total of 12 parties for manufacturing of Domestic water purifier. Some of them have already launched their products in the market. A fluoride detection kit for use by the general public for detection of fluoride contamination in ground water is a notable example of spin off technology. 

      Setting up of a demonstration unit of Electron Beam Welding facility for industrial use in the MIDC, Mhape, marks a beginning of a new pattern of technology transfer through user interactions.

      Acceptance of BARC technology for RF control system for superconducting Linacs of Australian National University, Canberra is a recognition of our expertise in hi-tech areas.
Four types of analog pulse amplifiers have been successfully designed and fabricated into application specific integrated circuits in collaboration with M/s. Semiconductor Complex Ltd., Chandigarh. 

     500 pieces of silicon strip detectors have been fabricated and tested for Pre-shower Detector System under CERN-India collaboration. 

     High quality machinable glass ceramic, magnesium aluminium silicate, and lithium zinc silicate glass ceramic-to-metal seals with Cu, as well as stainless steel withstanding a vacuum of 10-6 Torr, have been successfully developed. 

     An online diagnostic system for detecting blade vibrations in steam turbines of power plants has been developed. The detection method has been tested and validated in the turbines of nuclear and thermal power plants. We have been approached by many organizations for incorporating this system in their plants. 

     An online fatigue and creep damage monitoring system has been developed and installed at Heavy Water Project, Tuticorin and NTPC plant, Dadri. 

     A micro-controller based personal dosimeter has been developed as an import substitute to direct reading dosimeter. 

     Waste management facilities at Trombay, Tarapur and Kalpakkam were operated safely to provide treatment, discharge and disposal of the waste generated at these sites. At WIP, Trombay, work on replacement of process pots and susceptors has been completed and system is being tested before resuming radioactive operation. The process developed to condition the liquid waste from KARP in cement matrix has been implemented on plant scale. The facilities at CWMF, Kalpakkam have been augmented for the disposal/storage of pressure tubes and end fittings from the campaign of En-masse Coolant Channel Replacement (ECCR) at MAPS-1. Joule Heated Ceramic Melter of Advanced Vitrification System at SSSF, Tarapur has been cold commissioned successfully. 

      M/s.Larsen and Toubro have launched the commercial production of medical instruments developed at BARC for the diagnosis for peripheral vascular diseases and Cardiac Monitoring. 

     A cobalt-60 teletherapy machine for cancer treatment has been developed and installed at Advanced Centre for Treatment, Research and Education in Cancer (ACTREC), Kharghar, Navi Mumbai. The cost of this machine is half that of the equivalent imported machine. 

     Quality assurance tests have been conducted on I-125 seed sources produced by BARC and these sources are undergoing clinical trials for the treatment of ocular cancer in Sankara Netralaya, Chennai. 

     A modified surgical gamma probe for sentinel node detection based on CsI detector has been developed as import substitute with improved specifications and data storage capability. Two units have been fabricated and one of them has been given to Rajiv Gandhi Cancer Hospital, New Delhi for technical evaluation. 
A digital medical imaging system developed indigenously has been installed in BARC hospital. A dose reduction by more than an order of magnitude with picture quality comparable with the best-imported systems can be achieved in this system. 

     A Nisargruna bio-gas plant of 1 tonne per day capacity has been installed at INS, Kunjali, Colaba for the Indian Navy. The designs are ready for 25 tonnes per day and 5 tonnes per day plants proposed to be installed by Thane Municipal Corporation.

     Under tripartite agreement MoU with M/s Jupiter Agro Inputs, Krishi Vigyan Kendra, ICAR, Vadodara and BARC, over 70,000 kg radiation hygienized sludge was provided as a manure for testing in large-scale field trials in various agriculture farms around Vadodara. These trials have shown that irradiated sludge, besides being an excellent fertilizer, is also a good soil conditioner. 

     As a result of our petition, the Ministry of Agriculture, Government of India, has amended Plant Quarantine (regulation of import into India) Rules in February 2004 to include irradiation as a quarantine measure. This will facilitate use of radiation processing in overcoming quarantine barriers for export and import of fruits, vegetables and other plant materials. 

     KRUSHAK (Krushi Utpadan Sanrakshan Kendra) irradiator at Lasalgaon, is being successfully operated and maintained and during 2003-2004, 317 tons of onion and other agricultural commodities were processed at KRUSHAK. BARC has signed an MoU with Hindustan Agro Cooperative Society Limited, Rahuri for using this plant as a business incubator. 

     The crop improvement programme of Nuclear Agriculture and Biotechnology Division continued to make excellent progress. Two new varieties of Trombay Groundnut viz., TG-37A and TPG-41, were recommended for release by the Ministry of Agriculture for commercial cultivation. The former has been recommended for Rajasthan, Punjab, Haryana and UP during Kharif season and the latter has been recommended for all India cultivation in Rabi/ Summer season. A new mungbean variety TM-99-37 was also identified for release. It is high yielding, matures early and is tolerant to yellow mosaic virus disease. State Seed Committee of Maharashtra has released soyabean variety TAMS-38 for commercial cultivation in Vidarbha region. 

      A fast and sensitive method has been developed for DNA based detection of blast fungus in rice seeds. A DNA marker for stem rust resistance in wheat has been developed which will help selection of plants in wheat improvement programme. 

      A strain of TBP biodegrading bacterium has been isolated. A highly radio resistant bacterium has been genetically engineered for bio precipitation of uranium from radioactive wastes. 

      Bacterial non-specific acid phosphatase proteins and their mutants were obtained by recombinant DNA technology. Their detailed three-dimensional structures were illustrated using single crystal X-ray diffraction methods. 

      MAT-LAB facility for ultra high purification for gallium and arsenic has been commissioned. The capabilities for producing 6N and 7N purity materials for miscellaneous electronic and semiconductor applications has been demonstrated. The facility for studying single oxygen initiated chemical reactions has been established. It will be useful for various biological and pharmaceutical applications. 

      Important developments in material processing include demonstration of the possibility of direct electrolytic decomposition of solid oxides of reactive and refractory metals in a new type of electrolytic cell and preparation of amorphous carbon, carbon composites and pyrocarbon coatings which are required for high temperature reactors. Production of ultra pure zirconium crystal bar directly from zirconium bearing mill scrap has been standardized and this technique is expected to find extensive applications in production of low oxygen zirconium alloys. Development of all material components of the solid oxide fuel cells, namely, cathode, electrolyte and interconnect materials have been pursued with significant success. The challenge of producing monolithic blocks of silicon carbide, boron carbide and certain refractory metal borides have also been successfully met. Several new organic solvents have been synthesized for both the front and the back end of the nuclear fuel cycle. Amongst the few that have been recently developed are CMPO and DNPPA, TOPO and TAPO for the front-end and TEHDGA for the back-end applications. In the quest of new cladding alloys suitable for high temperature, high burn up and partial boiling conditions, a series of Zr-Nb-Sn-Fe based binary, ternary and quarternary alloys have been made and these alloys are subjected to different annealing and thermo mechanical treatments. Characterisation of microstructure, texture, mechanical properties and corrosion behaviour of some of these alloys has been completed. Zirconium based multi component bulk metallic glass has been successfully synthesized and characterized.

      Alloy 625 which is used in heavy water plants for ammonia cracker tubes, super heater tubes etc., are required to meet the design life of 100,000 hours. In-service degradation of this material has been studied in detail to identify the temperature regime for safe operation.

      In order to meet the design life of 100 years for AHWR, development of stainless steels resistant to sensitization and inter- granular corrosion is essential. A thermo mechanical processing which results in increase in the fraction of random grain boundaries has been developed for making austenitic stainless steels resistant to sensitization and inter-granular attack.

      As you are aware, the 128 processor ANUPAM ARUNA Parallel Supercomputer was commissioned in 2003. Using this Supercomputer, ab-initio molecular dynamic studies have been carried out for the first time in India on a large complex system, namely, Buckminster Fullerene doped with heteroatoms. 

      R&D activities in physical sciences reached a new height during the year. The indigenously built FOTIA facility was operated at 4.75 MV using SF6 gas which is nearly 80% of the design value of terminal voltage. In the area of basic nuclear physics, fusion cross section measurement work was carried out using stable He-4 from pelletron and unstable He-6 and He-8 beams from Grand Accelerateur National D’ions Lourds (GANIL) facilities. A Stimulated Brillouin Scattering (SBS) - Compressed Nd:YAG Oscillator producing a high power laser chain giving 150 mJ energy in 300-800 ps duration at 1.064 micron has been installed in laser shock laboratory.

      Today, PHWR technology is established on a firm footing and the primary responsibility of expanding the nuclear power programme is resting with NPCIL. BARC is committed to provide the R&D support to NPCIL in their endeavour for the growth of contribution of nuclear energy towards the overall power production in the country. As you are all aware, the Hon’ble Prime Minister, Dr.Manmohan Singh, formally launched the second phase of our 3-stage nuclear power programme, during his visit to Kalpakkam on 23rd October. BARC has specific contributions to make towards the success of the Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor being constructed at Kalpakkam. Our responsibilities include supply of mixed oxide fuel, born carbide control rod material, fuel handling system and the detector system with the associated electronics. These items are of vital importance which are to be supplied within the stipulated time-frame to make the project successful. BARC is also joining hands with IGCAR for developing spent fuel reprocessing and waste management for closing the fast reactor fuel cycle. This activity is also essential for making the fast reactor programme sustainable in the long run. With the induction of AHWR, we will be gaining experience in technologies associated with thorium which are so vital for our third-stage of nuclear power programme. The challenges in these technology developments are enormous and through the participation of our younger colleagues, we will certainly meet these challenges in due course. With the development of High Temperature Reactor, we would like to demonstrate nuclear energy as a primary heat source which can be deployed not only for the power production but also for production of hydrogen at low cost. Hydrogen energy has a significant role to play in the future. With hydrocarbon fossil fuel becoming costlier every day and eventually becoming extinct in the foreseeable future, hydrogen is certainly becoming an important career of energy, particularly in transport sector. The economy based on hydrogen energy will be successful only if hydrogen can be generated at low cost. The programme on water splitting offers a great challenge to basic scientists and realization of a project for hydrogen production at low cost is a demanding task for the engineers. BARC has the right combination of scientists and engineers who can shoulder such a responsibility. 

      In conclusion, I would like to emphasize that we have plenty of challenges for the future. With the synergistic effort of all of us in BARC – the scientists, engineers, technicians and administrators, I am sure we will be able to rise to the occasion to meet the future challenges in a manner consistent with the tradition of BARC. 

      Dear colleagues, finally, let us rededicate ourselves on this auspicious day for sustaining our development efforts for taking India to a position of super power through building a vibrant economy based on utilization of nuclear science and technology for long term energy security, food security and health care as a mark of our collective homage to our founder, Dr. Homi J. Bhabha. 

Jai Hind.