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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

India develops spent fuel automation system for nuclear plants

IRNA - Islamic Republic News Agency

New Delhi, Sept 19, IRNA -- India’s primary nuclear research facility has designed and developed the first advanced automation system to transfer the spent fuel bundles of Pressurised Heavy Water Reactors (PHWR) for nuclear reprocessing plants.

'Introduction of this automation system for reprocessing plant is aimed at transferring the fuel bundles directly from fuel handling area (FHA) of storage pool to the dissolver cell in an automated way, without the necessity of using charging cask,' pti reported Monday.

Pti was quoting Manjit Singn who is Director of the Remote Handling and Robotics and Design department of the Manufacturing and Automation Group of the Mubai-based Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC).

'This contributes in eliminating dependency on skilled man-power and thus reduction of man-rem (radiation dose) consumption by workers,' Singh said.

A preliminary safety analysis report (PSAR) has been reviewed and approved by the BARC Safety Council and the first automated system for spent fuel nuclear reprocessing plant would be set at Tarapur in Maharashtra soon and work in that direction has already begun, he said.

Singh also pointed out that the system was designed in a way that it could easily be adopted to handle fuel from 220MW PHWR as well as from 550 MW/700 MW with minimum changes.

Provision has also been kept for manual changing of spent fuel in case of non-availability of automation system, he added.

The spent fuel bundles from nuclear power reactors (in this case PHWRs) are stored under water at reactor site. After allowing it to cool down for a given period, spent fuel bundles from reactor site would be transferred to underwater storage facility at the nuclear fuel reprocessing plant site, D N Badodkar of the Division of Remote Handling and Robotics who developed the design said.

The spent fuel bundles are stored in an array of trays from ease of handling consideration and currently the spent fuels from storage pool are transferred to the reprocessing plant manually which includes –lowering of cask, transfer of fuel bundles (11 bundles weighing about 200 kg) from the storage tray to the charging cask using manually operated single or multiple underwater gripper assembly.

The fuel bundles are pushed (total pushing stroke of about 7m) manually in stages one after the other after lifting of cask out of the pool and its alignment to shielded transfer port of the chopper cell.

This operation requires dependency and availability of trained and skilled manpower.

The handling of fuel bundles from pool to the chopper unit (through charging cask) would also result sometimes in spillage of contaminated water all around on the floor and this new automated system could solve many of those problems being faced in the current system of manual operation,' Singh added.

Islamic Republic News Agency/IRNA NewsCode: 30571544

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