Second home-built 700 MW nuclear plant at Kakrapar achieves first criticality

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Presently, the NPCIL operates 23 reactors with a total capacity of 7,480 MW and has nine units.
File photo credit: NPCIL.

India’s second home-built 700 MW nuclear power reactor at Kakrapar in Gujarat achieved its first criticality, the start of the controlled fission reaction, early Sunday, setting the stage for its gradual move towards producing electricity for commercial purposes.

The first criticality was achieved at 1.17 am in the presence of Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) Chairman-cum-Managing Director B.C. Pathak.

Kakrapar Atomic Power Project (KAPP) Unit-4 is the second in the series of 16 indigenous Pressurised Heavy Water Reactors (PHWR) of 700 MW each being set up in the country.

“Achievement of the criticality of KAPP-4, within six months of commercial operation of Unit-3 was significant,” Mr. Pathak said addressing officials at the site.

The criticality was achieved after meeting all the stipulations of the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB), which had issued clearance after a rigorous review of the safety of the plant systems, a statement from NPCIL said.

After the first criticality, several experiments/tests will be conducted in KAPP-4 and the power level raised in steps, in line with the clearances of the AERB, ultimately culminating in the operation of the unit at full power, it said.

KAPP 3 and 4 (2×700 MW) are located at Kakrapar in Surat district of Gujarat, adjacent to the existing reactors KAPS 1 and 2 (2×220 MW), it said.

These indigenous PHWRs have advanced safety features and are among the safest reactors in the world, the NPCIL claimed.

While these reactors have been designed, constructed, commissioned and operated by the NPCIL, the supply of equipment and execution of contracts have been by Indian industries/companies, the corporation said.

Presently, the NPCIL operates 23 reactors with a total capacity of 7,480 MW and has nine units, including KAPP-4, with a capacity of 7,500 MW under construction.

In addition, 10 more reactors with a total capacity of 7,000 MW are in pre-project activities. These are expected to be completed by 2031-32.

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