By December, the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre will set up a research laboratory at Tarapur to test various systems of the 300 mega watt Advanced Heavy Water Reactor (AHWR), which will allow India to use thorium instead of uranium for power generation.
The trials for the AHWR will begin in 2011, said Ratan Kumar Sinha, the new director of BARC who took charge on Wednesday.
Appointed as the tenth director, Sinha who has been guiding the design and development of AHWR said: “The reactor has been recognised as a world class international design. It has undergone peer review and every licensing procedure has been carried out.”
Sinha (59) added that IIT-Bombay and IIT-Kharagpur have been simulating AHWR parts and supplying data to BARC.
While regulatory requirements to set up the AHWR have come through, search is on for a site. “For such a small power project, a dedicated site is not economically viable. We will need to deal with it,” said Sinha. “In a couple of weeks, we will start issuing tenders for design and preparation on non-nuclear systems for AHWR.”
Apart from deployment of thorium on a commercial scale, Sinha said some of the centre’s priorities will be to ensure fuel supply to the country’s first prototype fast breeder reactor and other non-safeguarded reactors, deployment of power and increase in production and supply of radio isotopes at a competitive price.
The former director, Reactor Design & Development Group & Design, Manufacturing & Automation Group, said that while the objectives have been set by his predecessors, he will try and get them achieved faster. “Priorities will not change. The goals are there. The milestones have to be reconfigured,” he said.
“The new unit will generate three times more power which assess whether various systems in the AHWR can withstand high pressure levels. It will have four channels and the fuel handling machine in one of them will be tested,” said outgoing director S. Banerjee.