From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : TVS-2M Nuclear Fuel
Mains level : Not Much
Russia has supplied the first batches of more reliable and cost-efficient nuclear fuel over the existing one, the TVS-2M nuclear fuel, to India for the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant (KNPP).
What is TVS-2M Nuclear Fuel?
- The TVS-2M FAs contain gadolinium-oxide which is mixed with U-235 enrichments.
- The core does not contain BARs (Burnable Absorbers Rods).
How are they prepared?
- Once the uranium is enriched, it is ready to be converted into nuclear fuel.
- At a nuclear fuel fabrication facility, the UF6, in solid form, is heated to gaseous form, and then the UF6 gas is chemically processed to form uranium dioxide (UO2) powder.
- The powder is then compressed and formed into small ceramic fuel pellets.
- The pellets are stacked and sealed into long metal tubes that are about 1 centimetre in diameter to form fuel rods.
- The fuel rods are then bundled together to make up a fuel assembly.
- Depending on the reactor type, each fuel assembly has about 179 to 264 fuel rods.
- A typical reactor core holds 121 to 193 fuel assemblies.
- TVS-2M fuel assemblies have a number of advantages making them more reliable and cost-efficient.
- The new fuel has increased uranium capacity – one TVS-2M assembly contains 7.6% more fuel material as compared to UTVS.
- Besides, the special feature of the Kudankulam fuel in particular is the new generation anti-debris filter ADF-2, efficiently protecting fuel assemblies.
- Once the new TVS-2 M fuel is used in the next refuelling, the reactor will start operations with an 18-month fuel cycle.
- It means the reactor, which has to be stopped for every 12 months for removing the spent fuel and inserting the fresh fuel bundles and allied maintenance, will have to be stopped for every 18 months.
Back2Basics: India-Russia Energy Cooperation
- The Soviet Union supplied India with nuclear reactors and fuel when India was denied technologies and was hit with sanctions from the West for its refusal to sign the nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT).
- In 1988, the Soviet Union agreed, allegedly without an official deal, to build two nuclear reactors at Kudankulam in Tamil Nadu. The deal was made official in 1992.
- In 2000, Russia and India signed another secret MoU, to cooperate on “peaceful uses” of nuclear energy, and for Russia to supply India with low-enriched uranium fuel for the Tarapur reactor in Maharashtra.
- In 2009, the two countries entered into a major nuclear deal, with Russia agreeing to install four nuclear reactors at Kudankulam in Tamil Nadu, and one in West Bengal.
- Two units at Kudankulam are currently operational, and the third and fourth units are being prepared for installation.
- Russia is also aiding with the ongoing construction of the fifth and sixth units.