New Delhi: In a major milestone for the nuclear industry, India has registered a record production of over 1,252 MT of uranium bundles, manufacturing close to double the annual fuel requirement of atomic reactors in the country.
The production has also exceeded country's annual fuel requirement of 650 MT for the Pressurised Heavy Water Reactors (PHWRs), which means the country has surplus nuclear fuel, for at least a few months.
The Hyderabad-based Nuclear Fuel Complex, which produces fuel for nuclear reactors in the country, has produced over 30 per cent more fuel compared to its 961.023 MT production in 2013-14.
"We have gone beyond our requirement this year," Chief Engineer of NFC, N Saibaba, said.
The news is a breather for the power reactors in the country, which for all these years had been "under- performing", primarily because of lack of fuel.
NFC, set-up with an initial production capacity of 100 MT per year, was augmented several times to enhance the capacity to 850 MT, to cater to the fuel requirement of all the 18 operating PHWRs and the 2 Boiling Water Reactors at Tarapur.
"The credit for this achievement goes to the employees. The average working hours of NFC employees have increased from 6.25 hours to 8.15 hours. Secondly, we have made changes in almost all the manufacturing processes, which saved on time," Saibaba added.
The nuclear fuel production in the country has seen a steady increase over the last seven years. A lot has been attributed to the Indo-US nuclear agreement and the subsequent Nuclear Suppliers Group that made the process of acquiring uranium simpler.
In 2008-09, NFC produced 226.89--the year Indo-US nuclear deal was signed. In 2009-10, the figure increased to 600.91 MT. In 2013-14, it crossed its rated capacity of 850 MT for the first time and produced 961.23 MT of uranium fuel.
India produces around 5,780 MW of nuclear power. Of this, 4,780 MW of electricity is generated by fuel processed at the NFC. Fuel for the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant (KKNPP) unit 1 is provided by Russia, as per the agreement.