Founder’s Day Address – 2006
(Monday, October 30, 2006)


Dr.Srikumar Banerjee
Director, BARC

Dr. Kakodkar, Chairman, Atomic Energy Commission, Prof.Ramamurthy, 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 97th 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 on 30th October every year we gather in this venue to celebrate his birth anniversary by taking stock of our achievements during the previous year and rededicating ourselves towards the well defined mandate of our Centre. 

As you are aware, the current year is being celebrated as the Golden Jubilee Year of BARC. Thus, it is all the more important for us to introspect. Our mandate is very clear. We work towards the growth of nuclear energy and towards applications of radiation technologies in areas such as health care, agriculture and food preservation. Besides, we have the responsibility of enhancing the national security and of keeping our country in the forefront of nuclear science and technology. 

I am 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 few illustrative examples. 


Research Reactors

All the three Research Reactors at BARC, viz., APSARA, CIRUS and DHRUVA have been operating satisfactorily throughout the year with high level of safety and availability. Subsequent to successful refurbishment of CIRUS, we have operated both CIRUS and DHRUVA reactors simultaneously at their rated full power of 40 MW and 100 MW respectively as and when needed. The modified fuel in DHRUVA has performed well achieving the desired burn up. The highest ever availability factor of 81.72% was achieved for DHRUVA during this year. Both the reactors have been utilized extensively for production of a large number of radioisotopes for medical, agricultural and industrial use. 

DHRUVA continued to be the major national facility for neutron beam research programme. A large number of research scholars from various Universities and academic institutions in the country utilized the reactor under the aegis of the UGC-DAE Consortium for Scientific Research.

On August 4 this year, APSARA reactor has completed 50 years of successful operation. During this year, APSARA was well utilised for some shielding experiments relevant to PFBR and AHWR. 

Performance of reactivity meter, based on Kalman filtering technique was also evaluated under different operating conditions of the reactor such as steady state operation, power variations, shutdown and trip conditions. 

Towards refurbishment and conversion of APSARA reactor core, the physics design of a 2 MW core with a maximum thermal neutrons flux of 7.0 x 1013 neutron/cm2/sec has been completed and the engineering details of various systems of the reactor are being worked out.


Advanced Heavy Water Reactor (AHWR)

The optimised reactor physics design of AHWR core with 225 mm lattice pitch has been completed with burn up optimisation and for positioning of control and shut down devices. 

An extensive experimental programme is underway to validate the design of AHWR. The Integral Test Loop (ITL) simulating the passive cooling system of AHWR has been operated to generate steady state and stability performance data. The start up procedure for AHWR has been extensively tested in this scaled facility. A passive valve developed in-house for AHWR has also been tested in the facility. A loop comprising four parallel channels has been commissioned to investigate instability and other phenomena associated with natural circulation in multiple parallel channels. This facility can also simulate void reactivity feedback. A methodology for the evaluation of passive systems named Assessment of Passive System ReliAbility (APSRA) has been developed. 

The design of Advanced Heavy Water Reactor has undergone a pre-licensing design safety appraisal by the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board. The reference to several documents published by the IAEA and its ongoing activities under INPRO proved to be valuable during the safety appraisal of this, first of a kind, innovative nuclear reactor. 

A Critical Facility is being built at Trombay for validation of AHWR physics design. The civil construction of this facility has been completed. Installation of equipment such as reactor vessel, square box, shielding trolley, control panel have been completed and piping work is in advanced stage of completion. The Shut-off Rod Drive Mechanisms developed for the AHWR Critical Facility have advanced features like 90% free fall and modular construction. Manufacture of mechanisms and neutron absorber assemblies for the reactor have also been completed. Uranium Metallic Fuel Assemblies and Thoria fuel required for the entire reference core of AHWR critical facility has been fabricated and loading of fuel in critical facility is expected to start shortly. Erection of a new glove box line for manufacture of (Th-Pu) MOX fuel has started at the Advanced Fuel Fabrication Facility, Tarapur.


R&D support for the Indian PHWRs

On 21st May this year, TAPS-3 attained its first criticality. BARC has significant contributions in this major milestone of the Department’s programme. Nortworthy developments include the liquid zone control system, the flux mapping system, the ion exchange process for selective removal of gadolinium nitrate in presence of boron from its moderator and an online system for vibration diagnostic for the steam turbine. BARC scientists were fully involved in the preparation of procedures and safety approvals related to the first approach to criticality.
The Flux Mapping System (FMS) has been designed in BARC to periodically monitor neutron flux using 102 Vanadium self powered neutron detectors located at different positions in the reactor core. The system generates neutron flux profiles, 14 zonal powers, and other related information for a given reactor state and has been operational since April, 2006.

A phenomenon of power oscillation was observed for the first time in TAPS-4 after months of trouble-free operation. The BARC team has analysed the problem and has found the root cause to be due to a Control-loop Instability arising after certain burn-up of fuel. A solution for stable operation of large reactors like TAPS 3 & 4 is being worked out in collaboration with NPCIL engineers. 

BARC developed software for training simulators for refueling operations for both 220 and 540 MWe PHWRs. The software has been delivered to NPCIL for Nuclear Training Centres (NTCs) at Tarapur and Rawatbhata [FHCS].

Periodic removal of sludge from steam generators ensures better performance as well as longer service life of the steam generators. For the removal of sludge, a Sludge Lancing Equipment (SLE) developed by BARC for steam generators (SG) of Kakrapar Atomic Power Station (KAPS), was commissioned successfully in early July, 2006. 

500 MWe PHWR fuelling machine head is being tested for endurance. Using this machine special rubber seal developed for sealing end fitting joint with fuelling machine has been tested extensively.

A new ultrasonic technique for measurement of axial creep of coolant channels has been developed and used both in 220 MWe & 540 MWe PHWRs.

Man-rem saving tools like end fitting blanking assembly, feeder isolation plug, channel isolation plug etc., for 540 MWe PHWR have been designed and developed to facilitate the life management of the coolant channels.

To improve measurement accuracy in axial hydrogen pick-up profile, a circumferential scraping tool has been successfully developed to obtain metal sample from rolled joint area of pressure tubes of 220 MWe PHWRs. Technical guidance was provided to NPCIL for Sliver sampling operation in three reactors NAPS-1, NAPS-2 and KAPS-1. An innovative technique, based on eddy current principle, for in-situ hydrogen measurement in zirconium alloy components has been developed as an alternative to sliver sample scraping technique. 


Health Safety & Environment

A comprehensive accident safety analysis of the fuel handling operations in Spent Fuel Storage Bay of Dhruva reactor has been carried out.

The in-house numerical simulation studies for the tsunami wave generation, propagation and run up and participation of our scientists in the implementation of National Warning System for tsunami and earthquake would further strengthen our efforts in improving the safety of PHWRs.

To address the structural reliability issues encountered in the structural analysis of complex systems, a parallelized version of the in-house structural reliability analysis software “BARC-RAS” was tested on an 150-node configuration. A speed-up of the same order as the number of nodes was observed. This development will result in performing a large number of structural calculations required for reliability assessment, in a very short time.


Radiological Safety

BARC has designed and developed a Portable Personnel Decontamination Kit (PPDK), which can be transported in 8 packages and can be made ready for decontamination of affected persons at any site within 20 minutes.

Altogether, 17 systems are deployed in the IERMON network so far. The data generated from the IERMON stations located at the tailings pond, UCIL Colony, Health Physics Unit and Chatikocha and Dungridhi villages around UCIL, Jaduguda will be displayed on a large display system at a suitable place accessible to the public at Jaduguda to increase the public awareness about radiation levels around the uranium mine.

Totally, 18 DAE-Emergency Response Centres (ERC) have been established to respond to any nuclear/radiological emergencies anywhere in the country. One of the ERCs was inaugurated at AMD, Bangalore by Chairman, AEC on 13th September, 2006.
Pre-operational Environmental Survey has been initiated at proposed nuclear power project site at Jaitapur, Ratnagiri Dist., Maharashtra.


Front End Fuel Cycle Activities

50 MOX fuel bundles fabricated by BARC and loaded in KAPS-1 have performed exceedingly well without any failure upto design burn up of 12,000 MWd/T. It is planned to irradiate a few of the bundles upto 20,000 MWd/T burn up, which is three times that of standard natural UO2 bundles.

Mixed carbide fuel fabricated by BARC has now exceeded peak burn up of 154 GWd/T in FBTR. BARC has recently supplied a consignment of Mixed carbide and Mixed oxide fuel for FBTR for the realization of a hybrid core. The PFBR experimental MOX fuel being irradiated in FBTR has now exceeded burn up of 59,200 MWd/te.

The production of the axial blanket pellets for PFBR is in full swing and about 20% of the PFBR core requirement has been manufactured. The second fabrication line for MOX fuel is currently undergoing cold commissioning trials at the Advanced Fuel Fabrication Facility, Tarapur.

A peroxide precipitation process has been developed for purification of impurities such as Boron, Gadolinium [Gd] and Samarium [Sm] in a bench scale set up. A patent is filed for this process and the feasibility of its deployment in industrial scale is being examined in collaboration with UCIL.

For low grade uranium sources, lab scale hydrodynamic cavitation leaching experiments are being conducted in collaboration with UICT, Mumbai. A considerable reduction in leaching time is recorded in comparison to conventional mechanically agitated leaching.

Technology for decomposition of ammonium nitrate solution by fluidized bed thermal de-nitration has been established. The know how generated will be used in centralized uranium oxide conversion facility at Tarapur.

Based on extensive experimental studies and modelling, indigenous capability for design of large capacity Pump-Mix Mixer Settler (PMMS) has been established and validated upto a 10 m3/hr capacity. Hydrodynamic design for a 30 m3/hr PMMS has been given to Heavy Water Board for evaluation at plant scale.

Successful installation and commissioning of the new cascade hall of high speed machines has augmented production capacity of enriched uranium. The Integrated Fuel Fabrication Facility has successfully made operational trials. This facility is set up and made fully operational in a record time.

In addition to regular production of natural uranium ingots for research reactors, production of depleted uranium metal ingots has started in order to meet the requirement of shielding material in Bhabhatron machines and in radiographic cameras. 

A Zr-2.5% Nb Pressure Tube (PT) irradiated in KAPS-2 for 8 EFPY has been taken up for detailed post irradiation examination which has given useful results on performance of pressure tubes fabricated via the pilgering route. Results indicate excellent performance of this material so far.


Spent Fuel Processing and Waste Management 

There has been an all-round progress in the activities related to recovery of useful materials from spent fuel, management of associated high level radioactive waste, augmentation of facilities for enhancing the reprocessing capacities and the necessary R&D backup. 

Plutonium Plant at Trombay has been brought back to normal operations after major revamping and modification jobs. The control and instrumentation system of the plant has been upgraded substantially. PREFRE, Tarapur has been operating with an excellent safety record with more than 4000 days of accident free operations. 

Spent Fuel Storage Facility (SFSF) at Tarapur has been commissioned and the transfer of fuel from power reactors to the facility has commenced.

To meet the urgent demands at NFC, Hyderabad for wet processing of reject sintered pellets of depleted uranium, a process based on indigenously developed Ammonium Phospho-Molybdate (AMP) resin for removal of 137Cs has been developed. Trial runs on one tonne of pellets have been conducted successfully. Simultaneously, facilities have been augmented at the Plutonium Plant, Trombay for dissolution of pellets and subsequent conversion to ADU. Production of prototype Cs pencils has been demonstrated using simulated waste. 

At Tarapur, the Advanced Vitrification System has been commissioned and since August 11, the Joule Heated Ceramic Melter is being operated uninterrupted for vitrification of High Level Waste. India has, thus, become one of the six countries who have developed and set up such facilities for vitrification of High Level Waste. 

In parallel, to address the need of future vitrification plants, an engineering scale demonstration facility for cold crucible induction melting technology has been built and successfully commissioned. The melter has a circular array of water cooled metallic pipes which are surrounded by induction coil carrying high frequency current. This segmented crucible facilitates direct heating of molten glass by electro-magnetic induction. Due to water cooling of the melter, a solidified glass skull is formed which holds the molten glass. This skull acts as the container and a protective barrier for the molten mass of high level waste.


Remote Handling and Robotics Applications

In our efforts towards exploiting automation and robotics applications, Extended Reach Master Slave Manipulator (ERM) of 9 kg capacity has been developed. Also, a sealed type Three Piece Master Slave Manipulator (TPM) with modular construction has been successfully developed. Its slave arm can be remotely replaced in hot cell using the in-cell crane. The sealed type construction of TPM prevents leakage of radioactive gases from hot cell to the operating area.


Equipment Manufacturing and Technology Development

The Extended X-Ray Absorption Fine Structure (EXAFS) Beam Line of INDUS II Synchrotron has been designed, manufactured and installed. For the K-500 Superconducting Cyclotron being built at VECC, larger part of the mechanical components of the RF Cavity comprising components of the three pairs of DEE Stems (Resonators), 3 nos., of RF Amplifier Systems, Support Structures, Drive Mechanisms and a few other peripheral components have also been fabricated and delivered.

A Linear Distancing System for calibration of Gamma Ray detectors has been designed and manufactured. The first unit, delivered to NPCIL, has been installed at TAPS.

A technological breakthrough was made by way of developing ceramic-to-metal (CM) feed through assembly for low speed canned motors. The assembly meets vacuum leak rate less than 1X10-9 Torr, withstand pressure of 200 bar and temperature of about 300-350oC. 



High damage threshold multilayer structures, that can serve as SP polarization beam combiners have been developed for isotopic enrichment studies. The device consists of SiO2 and TiO2 thin nanometric layers deposited in sequential manner. A precise control of film thickness, better than 99.9% for the multilayered structure with 35 TiO2 / SiO2 layers and 4 layers of anti-reflection coatings was achieved. These devices show high laser damage threshold.

An experimental facility to record laser induced fluorescence from single molecules was set up. The facility will enable investigations of protein dynamics using resonance energy transfer, protein-DNA interactions and radiation induced degradation in polymers and bio-molecules.



Experimental conditions were standardized to synthesise B4C powder which is vacuum hot pressed to specific shapes needed as control rod and shielding material for PFBR. Using a multicavity die about 4000 pellets have been prepared as per required specifications with respect to dimensional tolerances, surface finish, density and hardness. The reproducibility of the process flow sheet has been established.

Critical current density (Jc) of more than 800 has been achieved on bulk high Tc Yttria-123 superconductor of hollow cylindrical geometry prepared by top seeded melt growth technique using single crystal seed. These textured superconductivity elements will be used in cryogenic superconducting motor being engineered in BARC.

For meeting the requirements of Cobalt-6 isotope by BRIT, regular productions at the scale of about 12 kg cobalt oxalate has been started. The product is suitable for final conversion to slugs conforming to all specifications with respect to purity better than 99.9% and granular morphology.

Crown ether (namely, Di-t-butyl benzo 21 crown 7) for extraction of Cs137 from high level waste has been successfully synthesized at a laboratory scale. The product was characterized using the NMR technique and found to be comparable with the reported spectra. Extraction studies with the tracer Cs137 under simulated conditions were found to be encouraging. Synthesis of the compound at bench scale is in progress.

We have fulfilled our commitment for the supply of shape memory alloy components for first 7 light combat aircrafts. Transfer of this technology to HAL, Bangalore is being done for productionisation of shape memory components. 

A component integrity test facility is set up for testing structural components under multi-axial loading.



A convenient method for the preparation of high purity electronic grade trimethyl gallium, required for the preparation of gallium based semiconductor materials by the MOCVD technique has been developed. The TIFR group has grown thin films of GaAs using our material and has found them acceptable. 

About 2 kg of High purity gallium (7N) and 2.2 kg of arsenic (6N) have been supplied to Solid State Physics Laboratory, Delhi for the single crystal growth of GaAs, which met their requirements. SSPL has now requested larger quantities of high purity Ga and As.

A spectrometer based on unique methodology of Fluorescence up-conversion has been developed for getting fluorescence information from a system in sub pico-second to femto-second time scale. A time resolution of 100 femto-second has been demonstrated using this spectrometer built around a Ti : Sapphire laser.

Feasibility of water based dye laser system has been demonstrated using supra-molecular host-guest chemistry.

A novel polymer that preferentially removes cobalt in presence of large concentration of iron has been successfully synthesized, using the molecular imprinting technique which involves synthesis of highly cross linked polymer in presence of a chosen cobalt complex and subsequent removal of the cobalt ions. This is an important step towards reducing the volume of radioactive waste generated during decontamination of PHWRs.

A twin loop high temperature high pressure system made of stainless steel has been installed and commissioned at Kalpakkam. This system enables experiments to be carried out on corrosion of reactor structural materials and on radioactivity transport in the reactor coolant water system.


Nuclear Instrumentation

The technology of a Multi Channel Analyser designed for high resolution nuclear spectroscopy applications has been transferred to M/s.Nucleonix, Hyderabad for commercial production.

The CAMAC (Computer Automated Measurement And Control), FERA (Fast Encoding Readout ADC) with PCI (Peripheral Component Interconnect) card has been specially developed and evaluated for India Gamma Array Experiment at TIFR. 28 such modules have been fabricated and will soon be supplied to TIFR.

All the 1000 Silicon Strip Detectors for CMS Experiment at Large Hadron Collider (LHC), CERN as micro-modules have been fabricated and characterized at BEL, Bangalore. As a part of BARC commitment, 5500 nos., of Quench Heater Power Supply and 70 nos., of Breaker Electronics have been delivered ahead of schedule to CERN through ECIL.


Developments in Supercomputing

BARC has developed 1.7 Teraflops Supercomputer based on 512 nodes parallel system, which is largest & fastest computer in the country. The honorable Prime Minister of India, Dr. Manmohan Singh inaugurated the new Supercomputing Facility at Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, Mumbai on 15th November last year.

A 20 Million Pixel (5120 x 4096) high-resolution wall-size Tiled Display system using commercially available multiple LCD’s (4x4) has enabled advanced data visualization. The first of its kind system in the country is being used on regular basis to display voluminous analytical data. This system will have large scale defence and space applications. 

DAE entered the era of Grid Computing by demonstrating a working Grid connecting three DAE sites namely VECC, Kolkata, RRCAT, Indore and BARC, Mumbai allowing users at VECC, RRCAT and BARC to submit Fortran jobs successfully to the DAE Grid. 

Under DAE-CERN collaboration programme, BARC has developed many Grid middleware tools, namely, SHIVA - a problem tracking system, Grid-View - a grid operations and monitoring system, fabric monitoring etc., which are deployed in LCG grid at CERN, Geneva. 

A regional IAEA-NDS nuclear data mirror site for the Asian region, which was commissioned in Mumbai during the visit of IAEA Director General on November 15, 2004 for providing faster nuclear data services of the IAEA to Asian users, is now fully operational and is in regular use.


Radiation / Radioisotope Applications

BARC is exploiting the radiation and radioisotope applications in the areas of agriculture, food preservation, medical applications, isotope hydrology and sludge hygienisation.

BARC continued to make progress in the field of nuclear agriculture. A new groundnut variety, TG 38 has been released during 2006 for commercial cultivation in Orissa, West Bengal, Bihar and North-Eastern States for Rabi/summer season by the Ministry of Agriculture, Govt.of India. With this, so far 27 Trombay crop varieties have been released and gazette notified for commercial cultivation. 
Besides, six more new Trombay crop varieties are in pipeline to be released. During 2006, one each in mustard, sunflower, soybean, groundnut and two in mungbean have been released by the State Varietal Release Committees in Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh and awaiting for gazette notification.

Four Nisargruna biogas plants have become operational at Hiranandani Estate (Thane), INS Chilka (Orissa), Ankleshwar (Gujarat) and Chandrapur (Maharashtra).

In the field of food irradiation, a Framework Equivalency Work Plan agreement has been signed between India and USA for export of mango from India to US after treatment with gamma radiation. Upgradation of KRUSHAK facility for this purpose has been initiated.

A Memorandum of Understanding has been signed between BARC and the National Centre for Electron Beam Food Research, The Texas A&M University, USA for co-operation for the advancement of electron and X-ray irradiation technologies for food preservation.


Desalination Technology 

BARC will participate along with CSIR in the national effort in providing safe drinking water to all our countrymen. BARC developed technologies, such as, small Reverse Osmosis (RO) desalination units for producing drinking water from saline water, water filters for producing bacteria free safe drinking water, barge mounted desalination system for coastal areas and islands, and the development of indigenous polymeric membranes for brackish water desalination will play major roles in this massive programme.


XI Plan projects

For our proposed R&D activities for the coming five years, we have formulated our XI Plan projects taking inputs from our scientific community. The proposals were scrutinised at Divisional and Group Board levels and were reviewed by the Specialist Groups and the Internal Working Group of the DAE. I must mention here that under the XI Plan, we have for the first time introduced in DAE, the scheme of prospective research funding to encourage the curiosity driven or new idea based R&D by an individual or a group of scientists. Such proposals can be submitted at any time during the Plan period. I wish to encourage and welcome submission of such proposals in large number with new ideas from the scientific community of BARC. 

Dear colleagues, we were fortunate that His Excellency Dr.A.P.J.Abdul Kalam, President of India, visited our Centre on 17th July, 2006 to address the young scientists and trainee officers. The President’s interaction with the young scientists and trainee officers was a memorable one. 

It is 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, technical, administrative and auxiliary personnel are equally important in maintaining the overall excellence.

You all will agree that we have many more challenges ahead particularly in the current era when the atomic energy programme in the country is fast growing. With the global changes in international nuclear cooperation, 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 for mastering the new technologies in the near future by expanding our research horizons wider and further.

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 spirit of enquiry, the human creativity and the urge to excel must be nurtured particularly amongst our younger colleagues, so that research leading to new discoveries and innovative ideas receives adequate support. 

As you all are aware, our country has now received international acclaim as an advanced nation in nuclear science and technology. In the present scenario of our unprecedented economic growth, nuclear energy must play a very dominant role in providing long term energy security to the country. Scope of commercial utilisation of radiation processing in areas like agriculture, health care and food processing has now been demonstrated in different parts of the country. The role nuclear energy can play in seawater desalination and hydrogen production is also well recognised. Our interactions with Ministries of Agriculture, Non-Conventional Energy Sources, Health, Science & Technology and Space can lead to rapid proliferation of our activities towards societal benefits. It is our duty to respond positively to the challenges and opportunities opened up at this juncture.

As you all know, the physical protection of our Centre and its various installations is of paramount importance. I wish to compliment all officers and staff of our Centre for extending their cooperation with the security personnel in discharging their duties effectively for implementing the higher level of security procedures that have become necessary at this point of time. 

Dear colleagues, on today’s occasion of Founder’s Day celebration, let us re-dedicate 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.

Thank you.