Third Unit Of KAP Sachieves ‘Criticality’

  • The third unit of indigenously built Gujarat based Kakrapar Atomic Power Station or KAPS –3 has achieved ‘criticality’ - the condition when a nuclear reactor is ready for ongoing nuclear reaction or fission that generates energy.
  • It has generating capacity of 700 MWe.
  • Other two operational plants here having capacity of 220 MW each are - KAPS-1 (went critical in 1992) and KAPS-2 (attained criticality in 1995).
  • The fourth unit of the Kakrapar Atomic Power Station (KAPS-4) with 700 MWe capacity is to be commissioned by 2021.
  • All are pressurised water reactors with heavy water as moderator (PHWR).

What are PHWRs

  • PHWRs is a nuclear power reactors commonly using unenriched natural uranium as its fuel. It uses heavy water (Deuterium oxide D2O) as its coolant and moderator.

Why is India concentrating on PHWRs?

  • Of India’s 22 commercial nuclear power reactors, there are 14 units of 220MW PHWRs each, making it one of the largest fleets of such reactors.
  • Even though the PHWRs are expensive, the Department of Atomic Energy persists with them because it lacks the expertise required to build and operate cheaper Light-Water Reactors (LWRs). The imported LWRs are more expensive than the domestically built PHWRs.

Nuclear Energy & India

  • Nuclear power is the fifth-largest source of electricity in India after coal, gas, hydroelectricity and wind power.
  • As of March 2018, India has 22 nuclear reactors in operation in 7 nuclear power plants, with a total installed capacity of 6,780 MW.

Which Organisation Operates Nuclear Reactors in India?

  • The Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL) is the only agency to operate such plants. The Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) is responsible for overseeing atomic energy policy in India. 

Source : Civil Services Chronicle Online, July, 2020