Dinesh Srivastava takes over as CEO of Nuclear Fuel Complex
Dinesh Srivastava takes over as CEO of Nuclear Fuel Complex
Dinesh Srivastava, CEO of Nuclear Fuel Complex

Dinesh Srivastava took over as the CEO of the Hyderabad-based Nuclear Fuel Complex (NFC). Prior to this, he held the position of Deputy CEO of NFC.

Srivastava worked at the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), Mumbai for three decades, and is a senior professor at the Homi Bhabha National Institute. A metallurgical engineer from the University of Roorkee, he has contributed exclusively in the development of advanced structural materials of extreme strategic value for India’s nuclear energy programme, the release said.

“Target of his work has been self-reliant development of critical nuclear components for the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE),” it added.

The Nuclear Fuel Complex (NFC), established in the year 1971 is a major industrial unit of Department of Atomic Energy, Government of India. The complex is responsible for the supply of nuclear fuel bundles and reactor core components for all the nuclear power reactors operating in India. It is a unique facility where natural and enriched uranium fuel, zirconium alloy cladding and reactor core components are manufactured under one roof starting from the raw materials.

India is pursuing an indigenous three stage Nuclear Power Programme involving closed fuel cycles of Pressurised Heavy Water Reactors (PHWRs) and Liquid Metal cooled Fast Breeder Reactors (LMFBRs) for judicious utilisation of the relatively limited reserves of uranium and vast resources of thorium. PHWRs form the first stage of the Power programme which uses zircaloy as clad & Natural uranium dioxide as fuel. In addition, India is operating two Boiling Water Reactors (BWRs) since 1969. The zircaloy clad enriched uranium oxide fuel elements and assemblies for these reactors are fabricated at NFC starting from imported enriched uranium hexafluoride.

The raw material for the production of PHWR fuel in NFC is Magnesium Di-uranate (MDU) popularly known as ‘Yellow Cake’. The MDU concentrate is obtained from the uranium mine and milled at Jaduguda, Jharkhand, operated by Uranium Corporation of India Limited (UICL). The impure MDU is subjected to nitric acid dissolution followed by solvent extraction and precipitation with ammonia to get Ammonium Di-uranate (ADU). By further steps of controlled calcination and reduction, sinterable uranium dioxide powder is formed which is then compacted in the form of cylindrical pellets and sintered at high temperature to get high density uranium dioxide pellets. For BWRs, the enriched uranium hexafluoride is subjected to pyrohydrolysis and converted to ammonium di-uranate which is treated in the same way as natural ADU to obtain high density uranium dioxide pellets.

For PHWR fuel , the cylindrical UO2 pellets are stacked and encapsulated in thin walled tubes of zirconium alloy, both ends of which are sealed by resistance welding using zircaloy end plugs. A number of such fuel pins are assembled to form a fuel bundle that can be conveniently loaded into the reactor. The fuel bundles for PHWR 220 Mwe and PHWR 500 Mwe consist of 19 and 37 fuel pins respectively. For BWRs, two types, namely 6×6 and 7×7 array fuel assemblies are fabricated.