Fast breeder test reactor reaches design power level

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Chennai, March 8 (IANS): The Fast Breeder Test Reactor (FBTR), owned by the Indira Gandhi Center for Atomic Research (IGCAR) at Kalpakkam near here, reached its rated power level of 40 megawatts thermal (MWt) on Monday evening.

MWt refers to the input energy required for the power plant.

IGCAR Director B. Venkatraman said reaching design power level in the FBTR is a milestone in its history.

Starting with a small core of 22 Mark-I fuel subassemblies rated at 10.5 MWt in 1985, power was gradually increased in stages by adding fresh performance-based fuel subassemblies of mixed carbide fuel in terms of linear fuel and combustion thermal output. .

However, with the reactivity limitation in the core, the maximum power was limited to 32 MWt which was reached in 2018.

To increase the power of the FBTR to the design power level, a new core with few poison subassemblies was designed and a safety analysis was performed.

After obtaining authorization from the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB), the FBTR core was converted to a new 40 MWt core and all physical parameters of the reactor were measured to ensure safety.

The reactor was restarted with a new core and output was increased to 40 MWt, Venkatraman said.

The FBTR became critical in 1985 and its power output will be around 13 MW. The vintage 1970s FBTR is a sodium-cooled loop-type reactor, powered by plutonium-uranium carbide fuel.

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