BARC working out cost of research reactor for medical isotopes


The Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) is in the process of arriving at the cost of nuclear reactor for making medical isotopes under the public-private partnership (PPP) to estimate the investment required, according to K.N. Vyas, Chairman, Atomic Energy Commission (AEC).

Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in May announced setting up of a dedicated nuclear research reactor under the PPP for making medical isotopes or radio pharmaceuticals.

“The BARC, India’s premier nuclear research organisation, is preparing the design so that the reactor’s cost could be estimated before approaching the private sector,” Vyas told IANS. “The BARC has taken up the work of reactor design. The reactor capacity will be 40-60 MW and will depend on the demand for medical isotopes,” Vyas said.

India has built 40-100 MW research reactors. But the last research reactor was built in 1984. Thus, new costs would have to be worked out, he added.

According to Vyas, once the reactor cost is worked out, the private sector could be approached for partnership as they have to know the quantum of investment from their side.

Vyas had earlier said the cost of research reactors might be different from power generation reactors.

He had also ruled out hiving off the existing research reactor under the proposed PPP as they were set up at specific locations and free access couldn’t be provided to all. A private investor would like to have free access to the reactor set up under the PPP.

The Finance Minister had announced the PPP model for setting up irradiation units for farm produce to complement the agricultural reforms announced earlier and also to help farmers.

Sitharaman had said the idea was to link India’s robust startup ecosystem to the nuclear sector. Technology development-cum-incubation centres would be set up for fostering synergy between research facilities and tech-entrepreneurs.

“About 20 such units are functioning in the country. Irradiation is useful in extending the shelf-life of the farm produce. A lot of food gets wasted in the country,” Vyas had told IANS earlier.