Tapping indigenous energies

Published : Sep 29, 2001 00:00 IST


TARAPUR Atomic Power Project (TAPP) 3 and 4, consisting of two Pressurised Heavy Water Reactors (PHWRs) of 540 MWe capacity each, is coming up adjacent to TAPS 1 and 2. This is the first time the Nuclear Power Corporation (NPC) is building PHWRs of 540 MWe capacity. Other PHWRs operating in the country have capacities ranging from 160 MWe to 220 MWe.

The reactors for the fully indigenous project are designed by the NPC and the construction is done by Indian firms under its overall management. One of the units is expected to reach criticality by the end of 2004 and the second, six months thereafter.

A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, Principal Scientific Adviser to the Government of India, who visited the site of TAPP 3 and 4 on February 10, described the project as "a superb expression of self-sufficiency and indigenisation". He said: "The growth of nuclear technology has indeed become a trendsetter for many high technologies in India." Kalam was happy that the vision of Homi J. Bhabha, the founder of India's nuclear programme, was coming true not only at Tarapur but across the country.

V.K. Chaturvedi, Chairman and Managing Director, NPC, said TAPP 3 and 4 would be the mainstay of the 540 MWe PHWR programme. R.C. Rawal, Project Director, TAPP 3 and 4, told Frontline: "We are putting in the maximum effort. Using new management techniques, we are compressing schedules. One of the two units will reach criticality by the end of 2004. It will begin commercial operation three or four months later." By July end, 29 per cent of the project work had been completed. A 100-metre-tall ventilation stack was built in only 60 days. About 2.50 lakh cubic metres of concrete work was done in 14 months, a record for a nuclear power project in India.

Concrete was first poured for the reactor building of TAPP-4 on March 8, 2000 and commercial electricity would flow into the grid in five years. This would be a world record, Rawal said. So, he reasoned, the cost of electricity generated at TAPP 3 and 4 would be very competitive.

Much of the work is automated. Earth work for the TAPP-4 turbine building began in October 1998. The foundation pit was over 60 metres in diameter and 20 metres in depth. More than 2,000 cubic metres of concrete, to a height of five metres, was poured at the bottom of the pit. Gargye, Chief Engineer (nuclear and conventional), said that the TAPP 4 reactor building would sit on this concrete foundation, which is strong enough to withstand the vibration caused by heavy turbine blades.

O.P. Arora, Additional Chief Engineer, said that the deployment of tower cranes and crawler cranes at the site had increased the automation level by five to six times. "The whole technology has drastically changed," he said.

A jetty has been built in the sea to receive barges that ferry heavy equipment. Tractor-trailers would take these pieces of equipment to the project site. An open channel, 1.3 km in length, has been cut to bring sea water to the pump house.

The NPC has introduced the concept of mega packages in various fields of engineering. There are 40 mega packages.

TAPP 3 and 4 will have seismically qualified buildings and structures; independent safety-related systems; double containment structures; two independent, fast-acting, physically separate, shutdown systems working on diverse principles adopted for reactor shutdown; and so on. In the containment structures, M-60, a high-performance concrete developed by the NPC, will be used to prevent leaks.

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