India's fuel reprocessing capacity to be enhanced: AEC

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Mumbai, Aug 31: India's fuel reprocessing capacity will be enhanced several folds to meet the needs of the indigenously designed Fast Breeder Reactors (FBRs), which are expected to play a key role in meeting the country's ever- increasing power needs, Atomic Energy Commission said on Aug 30.

The Department of Atomic Energy will also augment the uranium enrichment programme for increasing capacity for future indigenous Light Water Reactor (LWR) programme, AEC Chairman Srikumar Banerjee said here.

"The country''s current 100 tonne capacity of reprocessing will be multiplied several times so that the two of the in-principle sanctioned 500 MW each FBRs do not face fuel shortage in the coming decade," he said, addressing the Graduation Function of Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC).

The Centre has sanctioned two FBRs to be set up at Kalpakkam in Tamil Nadu where a prototype FBR is in advanced stage of construction and "this (capacity enhancement) will ensure that there is no mismatch of fuel at the time of their criticality," he said.

FBRs use reprocessed fuel (a blend of plutonium and uranium oxide) from the spent fuel that is generated from a nuclear reactor. The FBR breeds more material for a nuclear fission reaction than it consumes.

"We are also going ahead with enhancement of the country''s enrichment programme so that we can use enriched uranium in the indigenous reactors and also when India''s Light Water Reactors get ready," Banerjee said.

Today we can use enriched uranium in indigenous atomic reactors but to meet the future demands of India''s huge civil nuclear programme, "we should build value addition capacity to the imported yellow cake through enrichment for reactors which are under international safeguards," he said.

PTI

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