Founder’s Day Address – 2008


Dr. Srikumar Banerjee

Director, BARC

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 99th birth anniversary of Dr. Homi J. Bhabha – the founder of this great institution, Bhabha Atomic Research Centre. 

This year’s Founder’s Day celebrations will be something special as Homi Bhabha’s Birth Centenary year commences today. Hon’ble Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh, today afternoon will launch the celebration of Homi Bhabha Birth Centenary Year through video conference link from Delhi. Hon’ble Prime Minister will also inaugurate several new BARC facilities.

As a mark of our collective salutation and admiration to Dr. Bhabha, every year we assemble here on 30th October to celebrate his birthday by taking stock of our achievements during the previous year and rededicating ourselves to accelerate the pace of our work. 

I am extremely happy to announce that last year has been yet another successful year in our developmental efforts. The list of achievements made at our Centre during the last year is too long to narrate and, therefore, I will attempt to give only a flavour of them by selecting a few illustrative examples taken from areas such as Reactor Technology, Fuel Cycle Technology, Basic Research, Health Care, Food Preservation and Agriculture.

The three Research Reactors Apsara, Cirus and Dhruva continued to operate with high level of safety and availability factor of 84%, 86% and 77% respectively. The reactors were well utilized for isotope production, material testing, human resource development and neutron beam research.

Apsara reactor has completed 52 years of operation and efforts for up-grading its power to 2 MW reactor are currently under progress. 

Design work on the 30 MW high flux research reactor proposed to be constructed at Vizag is under study. A scheme has been worked out for coupling an external neutron source with this reactor.

The Critical Facility, a low power research reactor of 100 W nominal power, constructed in BARC as a part of the over-all technology development programme to validate the physics design of thorium based AHWR, attained first criticality at 1900 hrs on April 7, 2008. The reactor core is currently loaded with natural uranium fuel assemblies. Physics experiments have been carried out at various power levels for experimentally determining the reactivity worth of primary shutdown system, the radial and axial neutron flux distribution and the neutron power of the reactor. After necessary safety appraisals the reactor power is being raised to the rated value. 

The Critical Facility is a versatile research platform designed to facilitate study of different core lattices based on various fuel types like natural uranium metallic fuel, natural uranium oxide fuel, Thorium-Plutonium Oxide fuel and Thorium-Uranium 233 Oxide fuel, different moderator materials and neutron absorbing materials. The design provides enough flexibility to arrange the fuel in a precise geometry at the desired pitch inside the core. 

The facility will be used for further optimization of the physics design of AHWR and generation of additional nuclear data relevant to the design of thorium-based advanced reactors. The reactor will serve the needs of physics experimentation of Pressurized Heavy Water Reactors as well.

In conjunction with the IAEA’s 52nd Annual General Conference, India organised a side event on the theme “Extending the Global reach of Nuclear Energy through Thorium”. In this event it was highlighted that deployment of thorium in the present fuel cycle technologies associated with PHWRs, BWRs and PWRs could meet the objectives of large-scale disposition of plutonium and the use of proliferation resistant fuel.

Our benchmark document on PURNIMA II has been accepted by the International Criticality Safety Benchmark Project (ICSBEP). This is the second criticality benchmark from India, the first being that on KAMINI released in 2005.

Options for the design of an initial core of Advanced Heavy Water Reactor (AHWR) with low plutonium requirement were developed. It was possible to reduce the plutonium content and the large negative void reactivity by using a 42 pin cluster (a modified 54 pin cluster with inner dummy pins) and zircaloy-2 displacer. 

The physics design of the equilibrium core of AHWR was further improved to enhance the average core discharge burn-up from 34000 MWd/te to 38000 MWd/te by using a SS displacer in top half of the fuel assembly and a Zircaloy-2 displacer in the bottom half, thereby reducing the SS loading in the cluster. 

The metallic seal made of thin sheet of Inconel-750 has been indigenously developed, fabricated and successfully tested for its ability to maintain leak tightness between the fuelling machine and the coolant channel during the online refuelling operation of AHWR.

Fuel handling components, namely radial seal plug, snout plug, ram adaptor, plug installation tool & stub end fittings, suitable for 225 mm reactor lattice pitch of AHWR have been designed, manufactured and performance tested successfully in the specially designed test rigs. These will be used during the performance testing of AHWR fuelling machine being manufactured at M/s MTAR, Hyderabad.

Design of the AHWR thermal hydraulic test facilities to be set up at R&D Centre, Tarapur for validating thermal and stability margins has been completed and further actions for its construction are progressing as planned under the MoU signed earlier.

In the design of Compact High Temperature Reactor (CHTR) the Active control and shutdown system is proposed in place of the earlier designed Passive Power and Regulation System (PPRS) for improving the response time. Various physics studies were carried out to establish that a new fuel configuration, namely, 2.4 Kg of U-233 mixed with 5.6 Kg of Th 232 with required burnable poison is sufficient to sustain for 12 to 15 effective full power years of operation. 

A liquid metal loop employing lead-bismuth eutectic as the coolant has been installed and commissioned. The facility is aimed at generating thermo-hydraulic and corrosion data.

A considerable progress was made for the design of 5 MW(th) nuclear power pack meant for supplying electricity in remote areas not connected to the grid system. The core has been designed for a burn-up of 3000 full power days. 

As a part of R&D for our PHWR program, the construction of BARC containment model (BARCOM) of 540 MWe PHWR containment has been completed at Tarapur project site. The model will be tested to arrive at its ultimate load capacity to assess the integrity of the containment of PHWRs under over-pressure accident scenario.

In a separate study, the behaviour of containment of Indian PHWR has been investigated for the aircraft impact induced fuel spillage fire accident. It is concluded that the primary containment wall will remain intact under such condition. 

During refuelling of PHWRs, a seal plug at the end of coolant channel is removed by the fuelling machine and reinstalled after the refuelling work is completed. In case the seal plug develops a small leakage, this needs to be expeditiously attended to. An end fitting blanking assembly has been developed for 540 MWe PHWR that will block such leakage very quickly and help in maintaining leak tightness till more rigorous maintenance of the closure seal face is carried out during the next planned shut down of the reactor. The device enables the refuelling of the neighboring channels with reactor on power.

Tritium monitor for area monitoring in presence of interfering 133Xe was developed for use at TAPS#4 on a specific request from NPCIL. This system is in operation continuously for the last three months.

With the five BARC Channel Inspection Systems (BARCIS) installed and the experience of inspection of more than 1000 coolant channels, BARCIS has established its credibility. The latest version of BARCIS was handed over to NPCIL in July, 2008.

The compact light water reactor plant at Kalpakkam has been operating satisfactorily since last two years. Performance of fuel and all systems of the plant are meeting the design specifications.

It is a matter of great pride that our commitment for design, supply and integration of compact light water plant for strategic applications has been fulfilled.

High purity special grade low alloy steel for reactor pressure vessel application is also developed successfully. A 120 ton ingot is cast in vacuum and forged, meeting the stringent quality requirement. This way, India has become one of the countries to have technologies for making the steel for reactor pressure vessel.

BARC is also providing R&D support for the PFBR related work. Two identical cell transfer machines are required to transfer new as well as the spent fuel to and from different work posts inside fuel transfer cell of PFBR. Design of these machines has been completed in BARC and technical specifications with drawings have been handed over to IGCAR for procurement action.

BARC has the responsibility of supplying fuels for the FBTR and PFBR at Kalpakkam. FBTR is now operating with a hybrid core of mixed carbide and mixed oxide fuel supplied by BARC. The new line for fabricating FBTR mixed carbide fuel commissioned last year is now fully operational and several batches of mixed carbide fuel have been processed successfully in this line.

The manufacture of MOX fuel pins for PFBR first core is continuing at our facility in Tarapur and fabrication parameters have been optimized to get a high yield of acceptable quality fuel. End plug welding of D-9 clad tubes using Nd-YaG laser has been successfully demonstrated and an ultrasonic technique has been developed for inspection of the closure weld.

BARC is also involved in R&D on metallic fuel for the advanced fast breeder reactors with high breeding ratio. The injection casting system for casting of metallic fuel is under installation inside glove box and a demoulding and slug shearing machine is undergoing trial operations. Thermophysical and thermomechanical properties of several Uranium Plutonium alloys and fuel-clad chemical compatibility studies are in progress.

As a part of the Fuel Reprocessing and Waste Management Activities Plutonium Plant (PP) at Trombay has been operated efficiently to process concurrently the spent fuel and the reject sintered DU pellets.

The repair and modification jobs at KARP have been completed, regulatory approvals have been obtained for resumption of plant operations and recommissioning work has started.

Processing of spent fuel and recovery of DDU was continued at PREFRE, Tarapur. During the period, PREFRE achieved a record production, despite some failed equipment. 

Regular supply of DU and DDU has been maintained to Nuclear Fuel Complex, Hyderabad to enhance the availability of fuel to power reactors.

To enhance the reprocessing capacities for spent fuel and for management of radioactive waste, the projects at various sites are progressing well. At ROP, Tarapur, supply of all equipment and storage tanks has been completed. State of art spent fuel chopper for gang chopping of fuel bundles in one stroke to enhance the production rate to four times is under installation. Commissioning of various systems has also been taken up. At WIP, Kalpakkam, plant erection has been completed. 

Waste Management facilities at Trombay, Tarapur and Kalpakkam were operated safely for collection, segregation, storage and treatment of radioactive waste. The discharge of activity to the environment was kept well below the prescribed regulatory limits. At WIP, Trombay, decontamination and modification jobs have been taken up to enhance the throughput by incorporating various systems for separation of uranium, cesium, etc. At the Effluent Treatment Plant (ETP), Trombay, alkaline hydrolysis process for management of spent Tributyl Phosphate (TBP) has been modified to minimize the generation of aqueous waste. The plant has been modified for simultaneous operation of hydrolysis and incineration systems.

Advanced Vitrification System (AVS), Tarapur has provided excellent operational experience for vitrification of high level waste (HLW) and about 170 m3 of HLW has been vitrified.

The second phase of cold crucible technology to demonstrate liquid feeding was successfully tried. An effective off gas treatment loop is being hooked to the advanced Cold Crucible Induction Melting (CCIM) for handling oxides of nitrogen for simulated waste feeds. The advanced Cold Cruicible facility is expected to generate design inputs and operational data for plant scale operation.

Process for recovery of 106Ru from secondary waste has been established on laboratory scale and two batches, 100 ml each of 106Ru (specific activity 300 mCi/l) have been supplied to Radio Pharmaceuticals Division for medicinal application.

In the area of Electronics & Instrumentation, BARC in association with ECIL was responsible for the 32 meter solid parabolic dish antenna for the Indian Deep Space Network (IDSN32) Antenna System located near Bangalore. This antenna will provide telemetry and tele-command support for ISRO’s moon mission satellite, “Chandrayaan-1” and for further deep space missions in the future. ISDN 32 has been picking up the signals from Chandrayaan-1 and continuing to track the satellite. BARC’s involvement in this program included analysis of structural design, design and fabrication of sub-reflector and design of the servo system. 

The high performance servo system steers the 450 ton antenna over ±270° in azimuth and 0-90° in elevation, with accuracies of a few milli degrees even against wind speeds up to 60 KMPH. 

The development of the full scope “Main Power Plant Simulator” for training operators and other personnel of LWR was completed ahead of time and installed at site. The functions of this complex simulator are distributed over 12 computers networked by a high speed LAN. It is now being used extensively to demonstrate plant behavior to operating personnel. 

1100 numbers of silicon strip detector modules were supplied for the Compact Muon Solenoid at Large Hadron Collider, CERN.

Silicon charged particle detectors with energy resolution better than 20 keV for 5.48 MeV alpha from Am-241 have been developed for use in physics experiments.

Cardiac Output Monitor technology has been transferred to M/s. Opto Circuits (India) Ltd. 

A hand held Tele-ECG Machine capable of sending ECG waveforms through a mobile phone has been developed for rural telemedicine applications.

Components of high Tc superconductor 123 compound have been fabricated for rotor assemblies of prototype superconducting motor. The motor has successfully achieved synchronous speed at 77 K at no load.

In Remote Handling & Robotics Area, BARC has developed a state-of-the-art DNA Microarrayer for mutation detection and gene expression analysis. It has a positional repeatability of one micron and throughput of 75 slides per batch with 7000 genes per slide.

Based on BARC technology, nine units of cobalt tele-therapy machine “Bhabhatron” are installed at various Hospitals in the country as on date.

In the area of Computer Science, the “Gridview” software, developed by Computer Division under DAE-CERN Collaboration, for monitoring large data-grid-centres has been deployed in production environment in LHC Computing Grid (LCG) of CERN. DAE participated in the LHC GridFEST on October 03, 2008 when the LHC Grid was formally inaugurated through worldwide video conferencing. 

The Programmes & Resources linkage system, PARINAY, and on-line work reporting system, OCR, have become fully operational in BARC. Secure access to BARC Email using two factor authentication has been provided from outside BARC.

Construction of Multi-Stage Flash (MSF) Desalination Plant as part of Nuclear Desalination Demonstration Project at Kalpakkam has been completed. This is the world’s largest nuclear desalination plant which can produce 4.5 million litres per day (MLD) of distilled quality water from sea water.

A Barge Mounted Desalination Plant based on membrane based pre-treatment and Reverse Osmosis (RO) technology has been designed, developed and built to produce 50,000 litres per day of safe drinking water from sea water. It can be towed along the coast to provide drinking water to the people on shore. 

These two desalination plants will be inaugurated by Honourable Prime Minister this afternoon.

A new photocatalytic disinfection set up for drinking water using solar light has been developed. The cost effective set up has the potential to be used for purifying water from usual resources of rural areas.

In the field of Insrument Development, a femtosecond transient absorption Spectrometer with 200 fs time resolution has been successfully commissioned. The probe IR beam is generated from an indigenously developed Optical Parametric Amplifier (OPA) combined with Difference Frequency System (DFG).

A state-of-the-art Molecular Beam (M) – Resonance-Enhanced Multiphoton Ionization (REMPI)-Time-of-Flight (TOF) system has been developed to widen the scope of studies on reaction dynamics in the gas phase. The mass resolution is about 400 and detection sensitivity better than 106 species per cm3.

Two more Oncology Centers have collaborated with Radiopharmaceuticals Division, BARC in multi-centric clinical trials for the treatment of eye cancer patients by using Iodine-125 brachytherapy sources produced at BARC and thus far, the benefit has been passed on to nearly 35 patients suffering from ocular cancer.

Lutetium-177, a radionuclide with high therapeutic potential was radiolabelled to two bio-active molecules for treatment of cancer patients, a phosphonate was aimed at treating patients with bone metastasis and a peptide was aimed at treating patients with neuro-endocrine tumours. Both these products are undergoing preliminary clinical evaluation at AIIMS, New Delhi with very encouraging results. 
In our work on developments of beamlines for the utilization of synchrotron radiation from Indus –2, Energy Dispersive X-ray Diffraction beamline has been completed and commissioned on the Bending magnet Port 11

Great strides have been made in development of advanced gas centrifuges for uranium enrichment program. The latest fourth generation design, with output 10 times the early design, has been successfully developed and an experimental cascade is in operation at BARC. These would soon be ready for induction at RMP. Third generation design, with 5 times output of early designs, are presently being inducted at RMP.

An important milestone in development of carbon fibre composit tubes for high speed rotor system, has achieved a surface speed of 600 m/sec. These rotors have the potential to provide greatly enhanced centrifuge output. These rotor systems are presently undergoing various trials. 

Closed Cycle Thermal Systems (CCTS) technology for under water propulsion, involving key components viz., compact boiler reactor, submerged gas injection & trigger system with power density of about 20 kW/lit of reactor volume, has been successfully demonstrated for specified power level. The development was done under an MoU between BARC, Mumbai & Naval Science & Technology Laboratory, DRDO, Visakhapatnam. The technology is ready for further development required for integration with other sub-systems, packaging and deployment.

As a part of Micro / Nano technology Development Program, MEMS based pressure sensors with ranges from 0 – 10 bar to 0 - 600 bar have been developed for various DAE applications. Work on developing robust sensors for deployment is in hand.

With the commissioning of Ultra Nano Indentation Facility, it is now possible to carry out mechanical properties measurement on different length scales. While the facilities for testing large samples upto component level were established earlier, with the availability of new facility we can now measure mechanical properties in samples of 1-5 mm size and on coatings as thin as 200 nm.

The 10 MeV electron accelerator located at Electron Beam center, Kharghar, Navi Mumbai designed for providing electron beam irradiation service to industries, namely, food processing, polymer processing and medical sterilization industries has started operating with 10 MeV electron energy and 3 to 10 kW power. This facility will also be inaugurated by the Honourable Prime Minister this afternoon.

The indigenous development of this accelerator which consists of an electron source, a high power microwave generator and a linear accelerating structure has been possible due to close collaboration of scientists from BARC and of SAMEER.

A microwave Electron Cyclotron Resonance (ECR) based proton source using three electrode configuration for application in the Low Energy High Intensity Proton Accelerator (LEHIPA) has been developed. It has been tested for generation of proton beam current of 42mA at 40kV extraction voltage.

A 10 MeV RF Linac for demonstration of cargo scanning application has been integrated at ECIL, Hyderabad. The indigenous Linac which is being jointly developed by BARC and ECIL, consists of LaB6 cathode base, 50 keV electron source, OFHC copper Linac structure and 2.856 GHz microwave source. The Linac is under test and will be integrated to the X-ray generator.

As a part of development of dense, corrosion resistant and thermal barrier coatings in AVLIS process, Y2O3 coating on tantalum and Yttria Stabilized Zirconia (YSZ) coatings on silicon substrates have been produced using metallo organic precursors in low pressure microwave plasma CVD chamber. The metallo-organic compounds were developed in collaboration with UICT Mumbai. The insulating nature of the coatings was tested by thermal cycling.

Switch-less operation of Transversely Excited (TE) Gas lasers has been achieved through a novel scheme of using the pre-ionisation spark array in a self switching role. Adaptation of this technique would remove the operational limits being posed by the spark gap or thyratrons on the life of a TE gas laser.

In Nuclear Agriculture and Biotechnology, the success story of crop improvement continued with the release and notification of three more varieties, viz., TPM-1 (Tromnbay-Phule-Mustard-I), TAS-82 (Trombay-Akola-Sunflower-82) and TT-401 (Trombay-Tr-401). With these, the total number of Trombay varieties released and notified for commercial cultivation has reached an enviable number of 35. 

A genetic linkage map of blackgram with 428 marker loci has been developed.

Ten Nisargruna biogas plants at Nanded, Pandharpur, Pali, Chiplun, Anjangaon (Amravati), Jaysingpur and two units each at Pune and Nagpur have become operational for processing biodegradable 


On this occasion of the Founder’s Day, I call upon our younger colleagues to take the lead in fulfilling some of our cherished dreams. As a premier R&D centre of the country, it is our responsibility to rise up to the occasion to develop nuclear energy systems and play a dominant role in providing long term energy security to the country. At the same time, we continue to advance our activities towards non-power applications of nuclear energy for a variety of societal needs.

The achievements we made so far have been possible only because of the dedication and hard work from all of you. I would like to mention that the contribution made by every segment of our scientific, technical, administrative and auxiliary personnel are equally important in maintaining the overall excellence. The synergy of activities of BARC personnel is the key to our success.

Dear colleagues,

Today, we are at the threshold of a large scale growth of nuclear power in the country. As you are all aware, the doors of international cooperation are opening up for nuclear power production. In this environment, it is imperative for us to maintain competitiveness both in technological and in commercial sense. The technology of Pressurised Heavy Water Reactors which has been built bit by bit over nearly four decades is now being challenged by other competing nuclear power technologies. We are aware that our own PHWRs in terms of capital investment is by far the most attractive and our colleagues in NPCIL have proved that a record of capacity utilization can be achieved in this system. We have plans for upgrading the PHWRs to a level of 700 MWe capacity and I have full confidence that we will be able to maintain economic competitiveness in this 700 Mwe PHWRs as well. India can emerge as a supplier of medium and small size reactors to countries which are new entrants in the nuclear energy field against global competition. To maintain this technological superiority, we must continue providing the back-up R&D to our colleagues in NPCIL.

We have made a beginning in designing and building the compact light water reactor. Time has come for us to use this experience as a stepping stone to embark upon development of the total technology of light water power reactors

Similarly, R&D efforts in BARC have the mandate in every aspect of the nuclear fuel cycle form the exploration of fresh uranium deposits to the final immobilization and incineration of nuclear waste. As the new mines are being opened up, we are encountering different types of uranium ores which require new processing techniques. BARC is already collaborating with UCIL and AMD for working out the mineral processing schemes for these new ores. Our interactions with NFC and Heavy Water Board have further strengthened and we have several immediate developmental goals. Pyrochemical separation of zirconium and hafnium and extraction of uranium from phosphatic minerals are some of the activities where BARC will work hand-in-hand with NFC and HWB.

Enriched uranium fuel supplied by BARC for the Light Water Reactor programme at Kalpakkam has been performing quite satisfactorily and our facility in Mysore is ready to meet the demands of our current strategic programme. There has been remarkable success in improving the separating work of our centrifuges and I have the confidence that we will be in a position to enter the uranium enrichment activity in an industrial scale within a short time. 

I must compliment our colleagues in the Reprocessing programme for maintaining the steady production. With KARP coming back to operation, we will be able to accelerate the production rate of fast reactor fuel, which I consider the most important mandate of BARC in the immediate future.

BARC has expanded the horizon of its R&D activities by including R&D on energy conversion in a broad sense. This area will provide challenging opportunities to many of the research groups working in basic sciences.

Coming back to the point of fresh challenges, I would like to reiterate that we must maintain a constant vigil on our performance so that the technology gain that has been achieved through years of efforts is kept well secured inspite of the threat of technology invasion. The programme on AHWR which has been conceptualized here will provide remarkable challenges to our colleagues to show to the world that our own reactor concept using proven technologies can deliver inherently safe nuclear energy system which will also pave the way for development of thorium based technologies 

Inevitable import of nuclear reactors in the near future can ride over the large scale energy shortage of today but we must not forget the huge potential of energy from thorium for our long term energy security, a concept which Homi Jehangir Bhabha first proposed. During the Homi Bhabha Birth Centenary Year, we must take the pledge of making his dream to come true.

Dear colleagues, finally on this occasion of Founder’s Day celebration, let us rededicate ourselves to continue our pursuit of excellence in the frontier areas of nuclear science and technology for the betterment of life of our people. Our pledge, I believe, will be the best homage to our founder, Dr.Homi J.Bhabha.

- Thank you -