Inside World's Most Efficient Nuclear Reactor, Soon In India: 10 Facts

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Beloyarsk Nuclear Plant is the only commercially operating Fast Breeder Reactor in the world.

Zarechny, Russia:  Till recently, the nuclear reactor Russia's Zarechny, a town in the Ural mountains, was out of bounds - with a reason. It is the world's only commercially operating Fast Breeder Reactor. NDTV visited the facility for a glimpse of the reactor, which produces many times more energy from the same amount of fuel in comparison with conventional atomic reactors. The technology is coveted and Russia is the global leader in it. India is a close second. China is at least 10 years behind.
Here are the Top 10 facts in this big story:
  1. The Beloyarsk Nuclear Plant is the only commercially operating fast breeder reactor in the world. Developed over more than 20 years, it started producing power since October 2016. The reactor produces over 800 MW of power.
  2. Fast breeder reactors produce more fuel than they consume. They are also considered safer than other reactors, say experts as they are less prone to accidents.
  3. While the technology is not mainstream yet, it is expected to take off in the coming decades as the world grapples harder with growing stockpiles of nuclear waste.
  4. Plutonium, the by-product of conventional nuclear reactors, is fast becoming a problem.  A 1,000-megawatt reactor produces 27 tons of spent fuel a year.
  5. But the radioactive material takes more than a million years to be degenerate naturally. Being the key raw material for atomic bombs, it is also in danger of theft by terror groups.
  6. For now, it is costing the world billions of dollars to safeguard the Plutonium waste from conventional reactors.   
  7. Fast breeders use plutonium and waste uranium -- which cannot be used to power a nuclear reactor -- and converts back into usable uranium.
  8. Russia is a global leader in Fast breeder reactors. India is a close second and China is aggressively trying to catch up. US relies exclusively on conventional atomic reactors.
  9. India's very own Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor is ready to be started this year. The 500 MW reactor -- located at Kalpakkam near Chennai - was built after a 15-year effort led by the Indira Gandhi Center for Atomic Research at Kalpakkam.
  10. India has indigenously developed its fast breeder reactor over the last 25 years. Nuclear technology was denied to India after the nuclear explosions at Pokharan. But the country hopes to ramp up its nuclear capacity by almost three times by 2032. Recently the cabinet approved the construction of 10 new reactors at a cost of over Rs 70,000 crore.


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Highlights

1
Russia's Beloyarsk Nuclear Plant is a Fast Breeder Reactor
2
Such reactors are safer and reduce the amount of nuclear waste
3
Increasing amounts of waste Plutonium is becoming a problem

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