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  • A nuclear reactor that produces the same kind of fissile materials as it burns is called a breeder reactor (BR). Like U-235, Pu-239 can also sustain a chain reaction. BRs while using Pu as a fuel can produce more Pu-239 than it consumes by converting non-fissionable U-238 that predominates in natural Uranium ore.
  • With fast neutrons, the chances of absorption by U-238 are more & hence these reactors do not use moderator to slow down neutrons, therefore, are called FBRs. For this reason ordinary liquid water, being a moderator as well as a neutron absorber is an undesirable primary coolant for fast reactors.
  • Because large amounts of water in the core are required to cool the reactor, the yield of neutrons and therefore breeding of Pu-239 are strongly affected. Thus, FBR need specific heat removal system such as liquid sodium (Na) or steam coolants in view of their higher power density.


  1. In PHWRs nuclear chain is slowed down by moderators whereas in FBRs this reaction is sustained by fast neutrons.
  2. The efficiency of conversion i.e. ratio of fresh fuel produced to fuel consumed is 1.2 to 1.3 in FBR & 0.6 in PHWRs.
  3. Radioactivity released into atmosphere is less. FAST & PROTOTYPE FAST BREEDER REACTOR

India’s first 40 MW Fast Breeder Test Reactor (FBTR) established by IGCAR attained criticality on 18 October 1985. Thus, India became the sixth nation to have the technology to build and operate an FBTR after US, UK, France, Japan and the former USSR. FAST & PROTOTYPE FAST BREEDER REACTOR


  • In its golden jubilee year, Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) has succeeded in laying the foundation of its prototype 2nd generation nuclear reactor at Kalpakkam in August 2004. It has been developed by Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research, Kalpakkam on the basis of successful operation of the FBTR since 1985.
  • It will be a 500 mw capacity facility and will cost around Rs. 3500 crore. It will be completed in 8 years. PFBR will use plutonium-uranium oxide as the fuel and liquid sodium as the coolant. India is only country in the world which is engaged in the research & development of FBR and conversion of Thorium into U-233.
  • Bharatiya Nabhikiya Vidyut Nigam Limited (BHAVINI) has been given the project management responsibility of PFBR. The PFBR will be a major technology development for the DAE which is comparable to the (Integrated guided missile development programme) IGMDP of DRDO. So it is a technological milestone. FAST & PROTOTYPE FAST BREEDER REACTOR
  • The development of Breeder technology is significant to India. India has a unique resource imbalance as far as nuclear fuel is concerned. Our known uranium resources (60,000 tonnes) will last only for 30 years generally just 12000 MW power.
  • So, any further nuclear power generation is possible only with imported uranium or imported reactors or development of FBR for converting vast thorium deposits of the country into
  • Because of the international restrictions first two options are of limited use to India. Thus, FBR technique looks the viable option with its capability to amplify energy from natural uranium many fold by converting 70-80% of non-fissile U into Fissile Plutonium or converting thorium into U-233.
  • The five lakh tonnes of thorium deposits in India will help the country to generate 5 lakh MW of power during the 3rd stage spread over a period of more than 100 years.
  • Thus, electric power security of India will be based on the Fast Breeder technology. FAST & PROTOTYPE FAST BREEDER REACTOR



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