Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant attains criticality
11 July 2016 | thehindu.com

The second reactor of Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project (KKNPP) attained criticality at 8.56 p.m. on Sunday.

The event was greeted with thunderous applause from the employees, technocrats and members of the Russian specialist group, exchange of greetings and warm hugs.

As the top brass of the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited including its Chairman and Managing Director S.K. Sharma witnessed the milestone event from the control room, the nuclear fission started in the second reactor at the scheduled time.

On commencing the First Approach to Criticality (FAC) at 7.52 p.m. on Friday by withdrawing the control rods from the reactor, boron dilution started four hours later to allow neutron concentration to go up, which eventually led to the criticality of the reactor.

Once the reactor starts generating 400 MWe of power, possibly within 45 days from the date of criticality, it is likely to be connected to the grid. Generation of power will be raised to 500 MWe, 750 MWe, 900 MWe and 1,000 MWe in stages. At every stage, various tests will be conducted and the technical parameters verified as mandated by the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB). Based on the results of the tests at each stage and with AERB clearances, which will take two to three weeks, subsequent stages will be reached to take the VVER reactor constructed with Russian technical assistance to its maximum capacity of 1,000 MWe.

Loading of 163 enriched uranium fuel assemblies into the light water coolant reactor began on May 11 and was completed on May 19.

The KKNPP submitted its reports to the AERB and got the nod for criticality after the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change experts, inspected the second unit and submitted their report to the Supreme Court.

Though it was originally planned to complete the construction of the first two reactors within 60 months from the ‘first pouring of concrete’ on March 31, 2002, it took 11 years for the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited, the proponent of the project, to take the first reactor to the criticality stage, owing to various reasons including delay in supply of compo

The first unit, after attaining criticality in July 13, 2013 was synchronised with the southern grid in October the same year. It has generated 5,777 million units of power till May 2016. Tamil Nadu is getting its share of 562.50 MWe from the first unit and neighbouring Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Kerala are getting 50 MWe, 221 MWe and 133 MWe respectively from the first reactor while the Union Territory of Puducherry’s share stands at 33.50 MWe.

Tamil Nadu is expected to get a minimum of 462.50 MWe from the second unit.

Having successfully accomplished the mission by operationalising the first two reactors, the KKNPP will now pay more attention for commencing the work on the construction of the third and fourth reactors, each with a capacity of 1,000 MWe, at an outlay of Rs. 39,500 crore.