India's own 700 MW reactor goes critical at Kakrapar
India's own 700 MW reactor goes critical at Kakrapar. Photo: Wikipedia

India’s own and first 700 MW pressurised heavy water reactor (PHWR) at the Kakrapar Atomic Power Project (KAPP) in Gujarat on Wednesday achieved its first criticality, the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL) said.

In a statement, the nuclear plant operator said the Unit-3 of KAPP attained its first criticality, or controlled self-sustaining nuclear fission chain reaction.

According to the NPCIL, the power generation will be increased gradually while experiments and tests will also be carried out.

After the satisfactory functioning of the systems, the power unit will be connected to the western grid.

The unit was originally expected to start commercial operations in December 2019.

Terming it as an historic moment, the NPCIL said KAPP-3 is the first of its kind 700 MW PHWR designed by Indian scientists and engineers. It is the 23rd nuclear power reactor of the country.

The components and the reactor equipment were manufactured by Indian industries while the construction and erection were also done by Indian contractors.

The reactor has several safety features like steel-lined inner containment, passive decay heat removal system, containment spray system and others.

The fuel was loaded into the reactor mid-March 2020 and the systems were checked even during the Covid-19 lockdown.

The NPCIL has plans to set up 16 700MW PHWRs in the country and the Central government has accorded administrative and financial sanction for the same. The projects are at various stages of implementation.

According to the NPCIL, seven more reactors KAPP-4 (700 MW), Rajasthan Atomic Power Project (RAPP) 7 and 8 (2×700 MW), Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project-3 and 4 (2×1,000 MW) and Gorakhpur Nuclear Power Project (2×700 MW) are under construction.

All the above reactors are expected to be completed and achieve criticality progressively from next year, it added.