By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, March 13: India on Sunday crossed another milestone in its nuclear programme with city-based MTAR Technologies developing indigenous technology for "Grid Plate", a crucial component of Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor.
"We have realised this technology for the first time in the world. Our nuclear programme is self-reliant. We are making a transition into domains which others have not made. With the development of the Grid Plate technology India has demonstrated that it can chart on territories which others have not yet ventured into", Atomic Energy Commission chairman Anil Kakodkar said after formally handing over the technology to Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research.
Dr Kakodkar felt that India would eventually usher into inexpensive nuclear electricity regime with a unit of power costing just Rs 2. Dr Baldev Raj, director of IGCAR, said India would soon become a "nuclear guru".
Stating that fast breeder reactors are the only option to meet the increasing demand for power in near future. India is one of the seven countries in the world to build up necessary research and development base for commercialisation of FBR technology.
Prototype fast breeder reactor is a 500 MWe sodium cooled fast breeder reactor. Grid Plate forms an important component of PFB reactor. Grid Plate is a box type structure with bolted construction. The shell assembly is bolted at its periphery to top and bottom plates, which are interconnected by 1758 sleeves. The material of construction is special grade SS 316LN with stringent control on chemical composition and supplementary requirements on mechanical properties and non-destructive examinations. It weighs about 80 tonnes.
"Grid Plate is accorded highest safety classification with stringent manufacturing and inspection requirements. MTAR has specially constructed a large workshop and established the requisite facilities like SPM, large size heat treatment furnace and nuclear clean hall", MTAR chief executive Brig V Sreeramulu said.
It may be recalled that for the fast breeder thermal reactor project, the Grid Plate was the only component that was made in France, in 1976, due to the critical technology involved in its manufacture.
Baldev Raj said the country had been constructing eight nuclear reactors at a cost of Rs 22,000 crore.
The AEC is still working on the proposal to set up a nuclear research and development unit at Visakhapatnam, Anil Kakodkar told reporters later.