Indian construction and manufacturing companies previously involved in the building of the IGCAR’s (Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research) 15 MW fast breeder test reactor will be playing a major role in the construction of the Rs 28 000 million, 500 MW, prototype fast breeder reactor (PFBR) to be built at Kalpakkam. Construction is due to start in April or May and is scheduled to take seven years, without foreign assistance. It is a central part of India’s strategy to utlilise its abundant supplies of thorium to make electricity by building a series of fast neutron reactors capable of burning plutonium to breed U-233. It will be fuelled with uranium plutonium carbide (the reactor grade Pu will come from existing heavy water reactors) and will have a thorium blanket.

A new corporation is being floated jointly by IGCAR and Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL) to build the reactor. It will be calling for tenders very shortly. The Union government will bear 75 per cent of the PFBR cost while NPCIL would contribute five per cent and the rest would be raised through borrowings negotiated towards the end of the project to limit interest payments.

Site selection procedures are expected to commence soon for the other four 500 MW FBRs of the proposed series.