HYDERABAD: The Nuclear Fuel Complex (NFC) under the department of atomic energy (DAE), has indigenously developed a material that will be used in Indian Space Research Organisation's (ISRO) planned moon mission.
Apart from 'Inconel 718', which can be used in high temperature applications, NFC has also developed titanium alloy tubes for a nuclear submarine. In addition, at least a dozen materials have been developed by NFC for use in defence and other sectors. Aluminum magnesium alloy has been developed for manufacture of tubes for the Indo-Russian "Brahmos" missile. Materials were also developed for the Bofors gun barrel, Nag and Trishul missiles.
This will help India depend less on other countries for importing critical materials needed in the nuclear and defence sectors.
Addressing a press conference here on Saturday, N Saibaba, chairman NFC board and managing director of NFC said the NFC has produced 1503 metric tonnes of PHWR (Pressurised heavy water reactor) fuel bundles during the year 2015-16, surpassing its production of 1,252 metric tonnes produced the previous year when it became the world's largest producer of nuclear fuel.
"Not only has NFC retained its world no. 1 position, it also plans to produce 2,000 metric tonnes of nuclear fuel bundles during 2016-17," Saibaba said. The chairman said this was achieved with automation, innovation and improved efficiency. He gave the credit to the employees. Interestingly, the number of employees was 3,960 when NFC was set up. In the last 10 years, there has been a reduction of 10 per cent of employees and no new employees were recruited.
The country has now more quantity of fuel bundles that are necessary for immediate use. However, with more atomic power reactors expected to come up in the few years, the nuclear fuel bundles can be used for generation of power.
According to Saibaba, the Nuclear Power Corporation of India (NPCIL) has already acquired land for the Kovvada nuclear power plant project in Srikakulam of Andhra Pradesh. Six reactors are planned to be set up in Kovvada. The Jattapur Nuclear Power Plant in Maharashtra is also expected to come up with two nuclear reactors initially. Nuclear power plants with two reactors each initially have been planned to come up in Rajasthan, Harayana and two other states.
Saibaba said the country will have to increasingly depend on nuclear power for generation of electricity. As of now only 3 per cent of the country's power generation takes place at nuclear power plants and in about six years, it will increase to 6-7 per cent.
In reply to a question, Sai Baba said the design of nuclear power plants was the best in the world to handle any mishap.