Chennai: India’s atomic power plant operator, the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL) is awaiting the arrival of German technicians to close the pressure vessel of the first 1,000 MW reactor at the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project (KNPP), said a senior official.
“The Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) has given the nod to close the pressure vessel Oct 20. The German machine to close the vessel will have to be operated by a technician from that country. The German team is expected soon,” a senior NPCIL official told IANS preferring anonymity.
According to the official, going by the current pace of work, the reactor will become critical (start of fission process) sometime during the second week of November.
It is learnt that NPCIL wants to be sure of the closure as this is the first time a reactor of this size is being installed in the country.
Once the reactor pressure vessel is closed, then the NPCIL has to approach AERB for permission for the next process which is called heating up process.
NPCIL is setting up the KNPP at Kudankulam in Tamil Nadu’s Tirunelveli district, around 650 km from here, with two Russian-made VVER 1,000 MW reactors.
AERB gave its nod to NPCIL to load 163 bundles of enriched uranium fuel in the first reactor at KNPP Sep 18 after the latter complied with all the conditions laid down by the former in its Aug 10 sanction order.
NPCIL completed the fuel loading process Oct 2. After the reactor is fuelled, activities to approach first criticality-starting fission chain reaction, for the first time in a reactor, will be taken up.
Closure of the reactor pressure vessel is the first step. Then the power generation will be gradually scaled up on AERB’s permission, based on the results of various studies.
The KNPP is an outcome of the Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) signed between India and the erstwhile Soviet Union in 1988. However, the project construction only began in 2001.