Short essay on India’s nuclear programme

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The Tata Institute of Fundamental Research which came up in 1945 provided the base and the structure for organizing the early efforts for India’s nuclear energy programme. Subsequently, India’s Atomic Energy Commission was set up on 10 August, 1948, under the chairmanship of Dr. Bhabha with the sole objective of formulation and implementation of the governmental policy relating to the development of nuclear power in India. Further, next step was the establishment of the Department of Atomic Energy with Bhabha as its Secretary in August 1954.

India is the home of l/6th of humanity and its energy demand is also growing rapidly. Considering the sustainability of energy resources in meeting increasing demands to support economic development, India’s nuclear programs strategy has been framed. To realize this need the Department of Atomic Energy provides synergy between science and technology development and establishes an organic linkages between laboratory and Industry.

The network of it organization has enabled department to plan and successfully execute a comprehensive programmes in areas of nuclear science involving chain of activities via-research, development and deployment of technologies.

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However, our nuclear programme is unique as it encompasses the complete range of activities that characterize advanced nuclear power including generation of electricity, advanced research and strategic programme. The manner of development of our programme has been based on our modest uranium resources and vast reserves of thorium. Our three stage programme of PHWR, FBR and thorium based. Reactors will be integrated into one.

(i) Nuclear Power Program Stage I:

For the Indian Nuclear Power Programme that took off in the sixties, PHWR was the reactor of choice for the first stage of the programme. To gain operational experience, initially an atomic power station consisting of two boiling water reactors was set up at Tarapur, Maharashtra, in 1969 with the assistance of General Electric of USA. Later on two PHWRS at Rawatbhata, Rajasthan, started commercial production in 1973 and 1981. This nuclear power programme is based on uranium fuel.

(ii) Nuclear Power Programme Stage-II:

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The second stage of nuclear power generation envisaged setting up of fast breeder reactors (FBRs) backed by reprocessing plants and plutonium based fuel fabrication plants. These fast breeder reactor products more fuel than what they consume. IGAR stated this programme with the setting up of a Fast Breeder Test Reactor at Kalpakkam, T.N. in October 1985.This reactor is operating with indigenously developed mixed uranium- plutonium carbide fuel technology.

(iii) Nuclear Power Programme: Stage-Ill:

This programme is based on the utilization of thorium as fuel. The thorium utilization is also the long term core objective of the Indian Nuclear Programme for providing energy security on sustainable basis. This stage is also based on the thorium-uranium-233 cycle. A beginning has already been made by introducing thorium in a limited way. The research reactor Kamini, operating upto a nominal power of 30 kw at Kalpakkam uses Uranium-233 as fuel which is derived from thorium.

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