Apsara, Asia's oldest research reactor, is active again nine years after it was shut down. Located within India's nuclear weapons facility at the Bhabha Atomic Research Center (BARC) in Mumbai, the reactor has been recommissioned with double its previous capacity.
Apsara is a highly versatile swimming pool-type of reactor that was built in August 1956. It was shut down in 2009 for a revamp. The research reactor's earlier French made enriched fuel has been replaced with an Indian made enriched fuel.
"Nearly 62 years after Apsara came into existence, a swimming pool-type research reactor 'Apsara-upgraded' of higher capacity was commissioned. The reactor made indigenously uses plate type dispersion fuel elements made of low enriched uranium," BARC said in a statement.
The Apsara reactor was utilised for various experiments including neutron activation analysis, radiation damage studies, forensic research, neutron radiography, and shielding experiments.
The research reactor facility provides much needed isotopes for medical purposes and also helps refine the design of India's nuclear weapons
"By virtue of higher neutron flux, this reactor will increase production of radio-isotopes for medical application by about 50 per cent and would also be extensively used for research in nuclear physics, material science and radiation shielding," the BARC release said.
India has five research reactors that aid India's nuclear energy program. Today the country generates almost 6780 MW of power from 22 operational power reactors.
With inputs from PTI