Rosatom State Corporation of 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 Units 1 and 2 of Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant (KNPP).
- Russia is building the KNPP under an Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) of 1988 and follow on agreements in 1998 and 2008.
- The first stage, consisting of power units No. 1 and No. 2, was commissioned in 2013 and 2017, respectively. Power units No. 3, 4 and No. 5, 6 are are currently under construction.
What is it?
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.
- Compared to the current fuel model, the TVS-2M fuel assemblies have a number of advantages making them more reliable and cost-efficient.
- Firstly, it is the rigidity of a bundle. Because of the welded frame, the fuel assemblies in the reactor core retain their geometry. The spacer grids protect the fuel rod cladding from fretting wear and the additional spacer grid makes the fuel assemblies more vibration-resistant.
- Secondly, the new fuel has increased uranium capacity — one TVS-2M assembly contains 7.6% more fuel material as compared to the earlier fuel bundles.
- Operation in longer fuel cycles also enhances the economic efficiency of a plant: As reactors have to undergo stoppage and refuelling less frequently, the power units can produce more electricity.
About Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant –
- It is located 650 km south of Chennai, in Tirunelveli district, Tamil Nadu. It is the largest nuclear power station in India (Jaitapur will be the largest once it is built).
- It is being developed by Nuclear Power Corporation of India (NPCIL). The NPCIL works under the Department of Atomic Energy, which works under the purview of Prime Minister’s Office.
- Atomstroyexport, is the supplier of equipment and fuels for the nuclear power project. It is a subsidiary of Russian State Nuclear Energy Corporation Rosatom.
- Its Unit-1 and Unit-2 are already operational and connected to grid while Unit-3 and Unit-4 are being constructed with help of Russia and preparatory work for construction of Unit-5 and Unit-6 is under process.
- At present India has 22 nuclear reactors in operation in 7 nuclear plants, having a total installed capacity of 6,780 MW and has another 21 reactors in various stages of construction and development.