Experimental reactors of BARC, IGCAR to be used for hydrogen

The Department of Atomic Energy is working on a plan to modify two experimental reactors developed by its arms to make them into pilot plants for producing nuclear-powered green hydrogen.

One is the Indian High-Temperature Reactor (IHRT) developed by the Bhabha Atomic Research Center in the mid-2000s. As businessline reported on December 12, 2021, the IHTR was developed to produce hydrogen—through the thermochemical route (splitting of water into hydrogen and oxygen using heat rather than electricity.) The reactor was designed to produce about 7,000 kg of hydrogen, 18 MWh (thermal) of energy per hour, and 9 million litres of (desalinated) water a day.

The second reactor is the 40 MW (thermal) Fast Breeder Test Reactor (FBTR) of the Indira Gandhi Center for Atomic Research (IGCAR). This was set up to learn how to operate a fast breeder reactor and it is based on these learnings that the 500 MW ‘prototype fast breeder reactor’ (PFBR) is coming u at Kalpakkam, near Chennai. Incidentally, Dr R Divakar, Group Director – Metallurgy and Material Sciences, IGCAR, said at an energy conference in Chennai on Thursday that the PFBR would go on stream in 2024. The project has been under construction for over twenty years.

Meanwhile, it is learned that IGCAR has formed a task force to look into developing a 100 MW ‘small modular reactor’ (SMR). Today, many countries are looking at SMRs for distributed generation of electricity. SMRs can be put up on sites of retired thermal power plants—which already have all the attendant infrastructure such as for power evacuation and materials movement. 

The government of India is giving SMRs a big push and the small reactors figure in all energy conferences and discussions. The IHRT and FBTR may also be configured as SMRs.

Tags: BARC, Hydrogen, IGCAR
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