Founder's Day 2003 - Director's Speech

Dr. Kakodkar and Dear Colleagues, 

In these glorious moments when Department of Atomic Energy celebrates its Golden Jubilee Year, it is indeed a matter of great pleasure and proud privilege for me to extend a warm welcome to each one of you - those who are present here as well as those who have joined from outside this auditorium - to celebrate the 94th 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, admiration and paying homage to Dr.Bhabha, every year we gather on this auspicious morning to celebrate his birthday by taking stock of our achievements during the last 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 1 billion plus population, 

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 mandates are to:

(i) provide energy security by way of generation of nuclear power that is safe, reliable and economical in addition to its eco-friendliness; and
(ii) enhance use of radioisotopes and radiation technology in non-power sector for health care (which also includes nuclear desalination), agriculture and food preservation, isotope hydrology and industrial applications.

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

Development Activities in the Power Sector

Our research reactors APSARA, CIRUS AND DHRUVA are all being extensively utilized for basic and applied research, isotope production, material testing and training for human resource development (which has been one of the strongest pillars of our success story).

Dhruva reactor continued to serve as a national facility for neutron beam research and a number of research scholars from various academic institutions in the country utilized the reactor under the aegis of the Inter University Consortium for DAE Facilities (IUC-DAEF). Production of radioisotopes at Dhruva reactor has been augmented by commissioning of another tray rod assembly with on-power handling capability. 

Subsequent to commissioning of CIRUS after refurbishment last year, water seepage was observed at a few construction joints of the spherical surface of its 40-year old emergency water storage more commonly known as ball tank. The leakage was rectified by special technique and structurally strengthened to meet the revised stringent regulatory requirements of BARC Safety Council. CIRUS has since been put back to regular operation.

As part of the ongoing PFBR shielding experiments at APSARA research reactor, 7 bulk shielding and 3 radiation streaming experiments have been successfully completed for PFBR. At present, APSARA is being utilized to study radiation streaming through simulated ducts/passages for AHWR.

As you are aware, we are committed to provide energy security to the nation on a sustainable basis, for which we have plans to increase the share of nuclear power from the present level of about 2.5% to about 5% by the year 2008 and then to about 10% by the year 2020 through systematic induction of about 20,000 MWe of nuclear power. 

Our present generation of PHWR utilizes only about 0.5% of the total uranium fuel and our modest uranium reserves may not support more than 15,000 MWe installed capacity through existing PHWR route. That is why, our committed nuclear power of about 20,000 MWe by the year 2020 calls for induction of Fast Breeder Reactors (FBRs) to contribute about 2000 MWe and Advanced Heavy Water Reactor to contribute about 300 MWe. In the long run, our goal is to contribute about 25% share of India's electricity generation capacity through nuclear power programme by the year 2050.

With this backdrop of Indian nuclear energy programme, the scientists and engineers of BARC, by utilizing its multi-disciplinary scientific and technological strength, are focussed for developing host of technologies through innovative ideas and creative design in three broad areas, viz., (i) to stay tuned to the horizontal needs of our expanding PHWR/LWR programmes to take care of the much needed technology uprates, aging management, life extension and fitness for service analyses; (ii) to shoulder substantial responsibilities for success of our next generation Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor (PFBR), which would provide the country an access to about 130 times more nuclear power from our limited uranium reserves, by way of providing the entire requirement of MOX fuel along with the fuel fabrication technology, waste management facilities, inclined fuel transfer machines, cell transfer machines and shipping cask, high temperature special sensors, validation of seismic design for reactor containment and major equipment/machineries etc., just to name a few of our major responsibilities; and finally (iii) to develop technologies for the vertical needs of India's nuclear energy programme, i.e., the technologies that are needed in the future based on India's vast thorium reserves (amount to ~ one-third of world's total thorium reserve). 

As a part of our continued R&D support to ensure operation of the PHWRs at world class level both in terms of plant capacity factor as well as safety records, an MoU has been signed between BARC and NPCIL for manufacture of wet scraping tools including the training of manpower to carry out scraping operation in operating reactors which would enable estimation of hydrogen pick-up level in the coolant channels as part of In-Service Inspection programme. A large scale scraping operation in 87 coolant channels, was carried out to minimise the rehabilitation load at RAPS-I.

Further an extensive rehabilitation programme for coolant channels of RAPS-I has been carried out by using specially developed Integrated Garter Spring repositioning system, as a result of which the operating life of coolant channels of RAPS-I has been increased from the existing 7 Effective Full Power Years to atleast 9 Effective Full Power Years with a possibility to increase it further (based on a few additional life management measures to be initiated later on).

To increase the power level of MAPS-2 from present 75% to 100% power, three sparger channels were successfully developed for MAPS-2. The shock and vibration experienced in the piping system feeding these sparger tubes during moderator dumping were also analyzed and appropriate corrective action has been implemented for obtaining the Regulatory clearance to operate the MAPS-2 reactor at full power. 

A Miniature Underwater Radiation Resistant CCTV Camera has been developed and successfully used for inspecting the 220 MWe Calandria tubes at MAPS-2 and Pressure Tubes at KAIGA-1. This technological development has enabled NPCIL in saving considerable manrem consumption as well as reactor down time. 

A modified chemical cleaning procedure for the moderator system of NAPS has been developed and high temperature chemical and electro-chemical parameters were monitored in situ for the first time in the country. 

A Graphic User Interface based software to calculate leak rate for LBB qualification of Indian PHWR piping components has been developed and handed over to NPCIL. 

As a part of our programme to develop PHWR fuels with about 40% higher burn up compared to conventional natural UO2 fuel bundles, we have developed MOX fuels for PHWR that are ready for shipment.

For 500 MW(e) PHWRs coming up at Tarapur, a full scale test facility for Liquid Zone Control System (LZCS) has been developed for optimization of process parameters. This control system is first of its kind being introduced to PHWR system in India for fine tuning of reactivity in dynamic mode.

A test facility with state-of-the-art control system is in the final stage of commissioning for testing the 500 MWe PHWR fuelling machine.

Reliability analysis of piping system of 500 MWe PHWR has been carried out using fragility method. The thermal hydraulic analyses were also carried out for Kudankulam power plant.

A prototype of fast acting valves with an opening time of 3 milli-seconds that are needed for many nuclear engineering applications like simulation of Loss of Coolant Accident (LOCA), quick injection of liquid poison to scram a reactor, etc., has been developed and endurance tested at high pressure. Actions for endurance testing of the prototype under simultaneous high temperature and high pressure has been taken.

As a part of our commitment towards FBR programme, the mixed uranium-plutonium carbide fuels fabricated at BARC for Fast Breeder Test Reactor (FBTR) at IGCAR, Kalpakkam has already seen a peak burn up of about 1,10,000 MWd/te without any single failure. I would like to take this opportunity to compliment my colleagues of BARC for this great achievement for the first time in the world. 

This has been followed by development of yet another special MOX fuel (UO2-29% PuO2) pins for PFBR which have already seen a burn up of 15,000 Mwd/te under irradiation in FBTR since July, 2003. This MOX fuel pins are of special nature because significant amount of U233 has been added to simulate the specified high linear heat rating of PFBR-500 for testing in FBTR.

Further in order to enhance the power generation capacity of FBTR, a hybrid core consisting of mixed carbide and MOX fuel containing 45% PuO2 is under consideration. Before loading the mixed fuel to FBTR, chemical compatibility of this mixed fuel containing 45% PuO2 with sodium coolant as well as with D-9 cladding material has been established at BARC under simulated reactor condition along with the generation of a new data base on thermo physical properties of the fuel. 

Keeping in mind that India has to fall back to its thorium reserves for energy security on a sustainable basis, we have the road map for introducing thorium (as ThO2 ) in place of UO2 in the blanket zone of FBRs at an appropriate growth level of installed nuclear power capacity in the second stage (because early induction of ThO2 to replace UO2 in the blanket zone of second stage FBR based on PuO2 - UO2 MOX fuel would retard the growth of nuclear power programme). However, we need to master well in advance all the technologies involved at the front-end as well as back-end of Th-U233 fuel cycle at plant scale (from our existing experience at pilot scale). Accordingly, as all of you are aware, one of our major tasks in hand is to start construction of a thorium fuel based 300 MWe Advanced Heavy Water Reactor (AHWR) within two years time. Designed for 100 years of plant life, AHWR will generate 65% of the power from ThO2 based fuel. This reactor system (first of its kind in the world) has not only the most attractive feature of primary heat removal by natural circulation but it also incorporates host of other passive safety features that are in line with the approach being pursued world over for development of inherently safe reactor system by incorporating safety features that do not call for any human intervention or any active control devices for reactor safety. I am sure, from regulatory point of view, this reactor concept would be equally exciting because such reactors eliminate the need for any exclusion / sterilization zone and hence do not call for any planning for emergency-evacuation.

The peer review of the Detailed Project Report (DPR) of AHWR has been completed by 15 Review Groups of NPCIL. While the observations and comments of NPCIL Peer Groups are being studied by us, AHWR is also being subjected to review for its compliance with international standards through participation in the IAEA initiated International Project on Innovative Nuclear Reactors and Fuel Cycles (INPRO). 

Parallel to such design reviews with reference to national and international requirements, extensive design validation programme for AHWR is under way at BARC. An integral test loop, ITL simulating main heat transport and all other major systems along with the associated controls for AHWR is nearing completion in BARC for validation of its thermal hydraulic and safety analysis codes. 

A Critical Facility is also coming up at BARC which would be utilized for validation of physics codes and library for AHWR as well as 500 MWe PHWR. 

We have also plans to induct nuclear energy as primary energy source in the near future, viz., nuclear energy as source of heat for variety of applications. For this, another innovative reactor being developed in BARC is a small capacity (~100 KW(th)) Compact High Temperature Reactor for addressing the needs of some specific applications like the need for small unattended power packs for electricity generation in remote areas that are not connected to the grid system or for production of hydrogen from H2O using thermo-chemical means as an environment friendly alternative to hydrocarbon fuels for our transportation sector (which has a huge burden on our import bill, in addition to the environmental concern associated with hydrocarbon fuels) or even for refinement of low grade coal and oil deposits to high grade fossil fuel. The physics design of this small vertical natural circulation type totally passive CHTR (lm D x lm H) has been finalized with 19 fuel assemblies/channels with TRISO type coated particle fuels (where Th-U233 carbide kernel is encased by multi-layers of pyrolytic carbon and silicon carbide) with liquid metal like molten Pb or Pb/Bi eutectic, as coolant. Detailed design of various reactor systems like simulation and modeling of passive power regulation system, heat pipes etc. are in progress.

In parallel, we have already taken actions to complete the R&D task involved in development of technologies needed at the front end as well as back- end of Th-U-233 fuel cycle. In fact, from our existing position being recognized as an advanced country in terms of our achievement in nuclear science and technology, we aspire to be the world leader in the area of utilization of thorium for harnessing nuclear energy for the benefit of mankind.

As our nuclear programme is expanding, our programme at the back end of the fuel cycle has been assigned special attention to cope with the increasing demand from reprocessing as well as waste management facilities. Enhancing the availability factor of the existing plants at the back-end of nuclear fuel cycle (all of which are otherwise performing extremely well), through systematic induction of better technologies, capacity - uprating by way of improved process design and remote handling equipment and life extension through induction of components and control systems with better reliability have been some of our major technological challenges. 

For enhancing the availability factor of our reprocessing and waste management plants, reliability of certain critical equipments/components like spent fuel chopper, master slave manipulator, servo manipulator etc., have been improved through better design with full participation of Indian industries. 

Similarly, while the Waste Immobilisation Plant (WIP), Trombay has been operated to vitrify the high level waste (HLW) from PP, the construction of an Advanced Vitrification System (AVS) at Tarapur for immobilization of high level waste using advanced Joule Melter Technology is nearing completion. After commissioning of this system by the end of the year, India would establish yet another advanced technology for vitrification of HLLW. 

While we can continue for few more decades by storing the vitrified high level waste in the interim Solid Storage Surveillance Facilities (S3F), we have sustained our development efforts for locating a permanent storage facility for the vitrified waste in a deep geological repository. 

In this context, we have also initiated a long term programme to develop Accelerator Driven Sub-critical System (ADSS) - yet another reactor concept for future - that could be used for either (a) power generation from Thorium or (b) production of U233 for our third phase FBR based on ThO2-U233 O2 fuel; or (c) more importantly incineration of long lived actinides and transmutation of long lived fission products of present generation PHWRs to shortlived products with, say, few 100 years of half life, thereby drastically reducing the long term activity burden of HLLWs which will go a long way to enable us to store them in near surface burial under surveillance or make their disposal in geological repository at much reduced technological complexities depending on the half life of the finally achieved incinerated/transmuted products. R&D work for development of special solvents and for inducting the process for partitioning of minor actinides during reprocessing operation are in progress.

Developments in Non-Power Sector

Remarkable progress has been achieved during the year in applications of Radioisotopes and Radiation Technology in the areas of health care (which also includes nuclear desalination), nuclear agriculture & food preservation and industrial uses.

Our I-125 based miniature brachy therapy source developed at BARC has been tried for the first time for treatment of eye cancer on a 4 year boy on 11th September 2003 at Sankara Netralaya, Chennai. This brachy therapy source was dedicated to the nation by the Hon'ble President of India, Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam on October 10, 2003.

The technology for preparation of single step Radiation Processed (Co-60 source) sterile HYDROGEL for treatment of burn injuries has been handed over to M/s. ABS Medicare Pvt. Ltd., and the product Hi-ZEL has been received extremely well in the market. 

To provide a low cost alternative teletherapy unit for the expensive teletherapy unit being imported, the first indigenous development of Cobalt-60 Teletherapy Machine has been completed with world class feature, like Zero collimator closing for full radiation safety, lower penumbra for better treatment results, 200-250 RMM Cobalt-60- source strength which is at par with any imported machine with total digital controls that are upgradeable to tele-maintenance. The machine is being installed at ACTREC, Navi Mumbai for source loading and commissioning.

Medical Cyclotron with Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scanning facility that was introduced for our needy people for the first time in the country last year is being effectively utilized to produce F-18 labelled FDG molecules for diagnosis of cancer as well as cardiac disorders. 

A digital medical imaging system based on a Charge Coupled Device (CCD) has been developed for the first time in the country along with a variety of image processing software. This digital medical imaging system can be used in multifunctional modes viz., either as digital radiography (where, compared to conventional film type X-ray unit, the delivered dose to the patient for a given quality of picture is ~ one order less with a much higher dynamic range), or as a digital fluoroscopy (for real time observation) or even as digital angiography including the facility of getting the digital images archived for Telemedicine purpose. It would be installed at BARC Hospital soon. We are also exploring the possibility of introducing this advanced system of digital imaging system through collaboration with outside industries.

The Sludge Hygienization Research Irradiator (SHRI) using ~180 Kci of Co-60 source has been commissioned successfully to treat nearly 2500 m3 of municipal waste at Vadodara and over 40 Te of hygienised bacteria free sludge with excellent NPK content was recycled for large scale field trials under the supervision of Krishi Vigyan Kendra, Vadodara as an effective bio-fertilizer and soil conditioner for green gram crop. A tripartite MoU has been signed a fortnight back for processing larger quantities of municipal sludge at SHRI facility.

As a part of our health care programme, our 1800 m3/day Reverse Osmosis (RO) Desalination Plant coupled with Nuclear Power Plant at Kalpakkam is doing extremely well. The construction of the adjoining desalination plant based on Multi-Stage Flash (MSF) evaporation process is in progress. A 30 m3/day desalination unit based on low temperature evaporation (LTE) process has been integrated with CIRUS research reactor to demonstrate sea water desalination using waste heat from the research reactor. 

We have built a 30 m3/day RO plant in Satlana Village of Jodhpur District for producing drinking water from bore well brackish water source. 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 8 parties, out of which two have already launched their products in the market. 

Work on building a 50 m3/day barge mounted desalination plant for providing drinking water from sea water to flood affected areas is progressing well.

In the field of Nuclear Agriculture, our groundnut variety TG-37A has been identified this year by ICAR for commercial release for Kharif (rainy) season in Zone I (Rajasthan, Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh). Large seed groundnut variety, TKG 19A was found promising for North Eastern Hill States. Two Trombay groundnuts TAG-24 and TG-26 were grown at Leh, at an altitude of about 3,505 meter above mean sea level with encouraging results in a collaborative effort between BARC, Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO) and National Research Centre for Groundnut (NRCG), Junagadh.

BARC's Nisargruna (biogas) plants are a boon to solid waste management authorities. Two Nisargruna plants of 5 t/day capacity each have started operating at Shatabdi Hospital, Govandi and Deonar abattoir respectively. This follows BARC's MOU with Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai and Stree Mukti Sanghatna. Technology for the biogas plants is also being transferred to other entrepreneurs.

KRUSHAK (Krushi Utpadan Sanrakshan Kendra), a technology demonstration unit for low dose applications of radiation for food preservation became operational at Lasalgaon near Nashik in July this year. The unit started processing onion for sprout control and other agricultural commodities including cereals, pulses and their products, raisins and some spices for insect disinfestations. An MOU was signed between Hindustan Agro Cooperative Ltd., and BRIT/BARC for providing technical consultancy for setting up a radiation processing plant for onion and other agricultural commodities at Rahuri in Ahmednagar Dist. 

As a part of our continued development in application of radioisotopes and radiation technology in industrial sector, our gamma scanning technology continued to be used for troubleshooting and process optimization in a number of process industries in the country. In fact, our Heavy Water Board has utilized this technology this year for troubleshooting of one of their 4.5 meter diameter Hot Towers at Manuguru.

In-house development of 10 MeV, 10 KW, RF Electron Linear Accelerator for industrial use is in advanced stage of assembling & testing.

Technology Developments

In our effort to develop Teraflop parallel Super-computers with more than 1000 processors, BARC has achieved a very significant milestone by commissioning an ANUPAM-ARUNA parallel supercomputer with 128 processors, giving a computational speed of 360 Gigaflops on the high performance Linpack benchmark. Within a period of next one year we expect to reach a computational speed of about 1.5 Teraflop using 512 processors.

Hermetically seated dry type low pressure compressor for special applications has been developed for the first time in the country at a cost less than half the cost of the imported machine.

A plasma materials processing facility based on a 2.5 GHz, 1.5 kW microwave electron-cyclotron resonance source has been developed for the deposition of hard tribological coatings of a variety of materials.

MAT Lab has been established for the first time in India for the preparation of ultra pure metals like gallium, arsenic, etc., and their organo-metallics with purity >6N for MOCVD experiments. 

A Mobile Radiological Laboratory (MRL), equipped with various instruments required for environmental contamination monitoring and whole body monitoring has been commissioned. This is equipped with a specially developed simple yet very sensitive 131I thyroid monitor and a stand alone computer controlled whole body counter for assessing internal contamination. It is a self operated system and would be especially useful in radiation emergencies.

A remotely operated hydraulic trolley manipulator (with 6 degrees of freedom) capable of handling 50 kgm pay load has been commissioned which will be an extremely useful tool during incidents/emergencies in nuclear power plants and other radioactive facilities.

Assistance to outside organisations

In addition to the heat shrinkable sleeves already supplied for Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) using Nickel-Titanium (50% Ni - 50% Ti) based shape memory alloys, a number of other critical components like 3-axis super elastic wave springs made of shape memory alloy containing 51% Ni and 49% Ti (for tightening the cap screws of pumps) and the heat shrinkable hydraulic coupling for joining half alloy tubes of Titanium (containing 3Al - 2V as against 6Al - 4V of famous Ti alloy) to withstand high pressure. 

Technology for commercial production of TBP with 60 MT/year capacity has been handed over to Heavy Water Board which would cater not only to the in-house requirement but also meet some of the outside requirements of non-ferrous metal industries. 

The visual colorimetric reagent for the detection of fluoride in the ground water has proved very popular with water boards. The capability of providing specialized ultra-trace analytical services has been extended to a large number of chemical systems. 

Recognising the urgent need for improving safety in Indian Railways, BARC has taken initiative for developing an online health monitoring system in collaboration with Konkan Railway Corporation Ltd. A PC based system has been designed, tested and commissioned on the Konkan route to monitor and record normal and abnormal rolling condition of the running trains. 

BARC on-line creep-fatigue monitoring system (BOSSES) has been implemented at National Super Thermal Power Plant (Dadri).

Technologies for (i) Digital Pocket Dosimeter, (ii) the manufacture of CaSO4:Dy Teflon TLD discs and (iii) the production of dust and airline respirators were transferred to private parties during the year.

International Collaboration

We have a strong collaborative participation with most prestigious international mega project at CERN, Geneva, where the most advanced basic science are planned to be pursued with facilities being created using the most advanced technologies in the world. I take this opportunity to compliment the entire DAE family in general and all my colleagues from BARC in particular whose contributions towards implementation of this mega project (which include 100 numbers of large area Silicon strip detectors for use in CMS facility at CERN) have been highly appreciated and earned the "Observer" status for India at CERN. It is indeed heartening to note that CERN is showing progressively more keenness to expand the collaborative programme with BARC particularly in the area of grid computing technology - a technology that could be the most cost effective technology for networking of all the available computational resources at national/global level. 

BARC participated in an IAEA sponsored international effort for searching of Sr-90 "orphan sources" at Georgia. Aerial Gamma Spectrometry System (AGSS), developed by BARC, was deployed in the search operations carried out in the western and southern regions of Georgia. The technical superiority of our AGSS in detecting the orphan sources and the expertise of BARC staff in locating the same and training of the staff of Nuclear Radiation and Safety Services (NRSS), Ministry of Environment, Georgia in the operation of the AGSS system have been highly appreciated by both the Govt.of Georgia and IAEA. 

Friends, the actual list of achievement in BARC is too long to be covered in totality in a short term. However, before I conclude, I would like to take the opportunity to compliment all the staff members of BARC units once again for their outstanding performance for all round advances at BARC. A word of special compliment must be mentioned for BARC Safety Council for its excellent performance while discharging the duties.

Finally, on the memorable moments of the Golden Jubilee Year of the Department of Atomic Energy let us rededicate ourselves on this auspicious day for sustaining our development efforts in both basic science and engineering science 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.

Thank You.