Chennai : A state-of-the-art simulator is being commissioned at Kalpakkam, 80 km from here, to train personnel who will man the upcoming nuclear power plant.
The state-run Bharatiya Nabhikiya Vidyut Nigam (Bhavini) of the Department of Atomic Energy is setting up the simulator to train operators of the 500 MW Kalpakkam fast breeder reactor, scheduled to go critical in 2011.
A breeder reactor controls the nuclear fission that produces electricity. Orientation in the simulator designed by the Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research will ensure a smooth transition of 30 Bhavini engineers to the actual facility, experts associated with the project said.
Bhavini is constructing the 500 MW reactor — touted as at the forerunner of the future fast breeder power reactors to provide energy security to the country — at a revised cost Rs.5,000 crore.
“The reactor control panels and other equipment at the simulator centre, and its layout, are identical to what has been designed to run the actual reactor,” said V.A. Subramani, the station director of the project.
“This will enable the reactor operating personnel like shift charge engineer and control engineers to take charge at the reactor with ease,” Subramani told IANS, adding it will also help the staff to train for a mandatory licence from the government.
He said the necessary hardware and software were in the process of being installed at the simulator centre, even as some technical hands had been deputed overseas and at other reactor units within India for training.
Speaking about the progress at the actual site of the reactor, project director Prabhat Kumar said 90 percent of the civil construction for housing the nuclear power equipment is over.
The construction phase, he said, was lagging behind slightly in respect of the buildings that would house the electrical side and the sea water pump house. Yet, he added: “We are confident of making up the time so that the reactor goes critical in 2011.”
The fast breeder reactor will generate power by recycling plutonium and depleted uranium recovered from the spent fuel of the the state-run Nuclear Power Corp of India. The technology would thus allow the nuclear power generation capacity to grow to 350,000 MW without needing any additional uranium, experts explained.
The Indian nuclear power market is estimated to touch $40 billion or Rs.20,000 crore by 2020. Atomic companies from the US, Russia, France and Kazakhstan, the four countries with which India has signed bilateral nuclear pacts, are vying to get a share of its nuclear pie.
British companies specialising in nuclear safety and research have also opened contacts with India.
Similarly, Sweden, a member of the 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group, is offering India its niche expertise in nuclear waste management and security as it eyes the country’s civilian nuclear energy market.