Nuclear Power

Advanced core catcher for Kudankulam 3 unit

Print edition : January 17, 2020

The core catcher being installed for Kudankulam unit 3.

A new-generation core catcher has been installed at Kudankulam unit 3, which is currently under construction, Russia’s Atomstroyexport (ASE) announced in early December. A core catcher, also referred to as a core melt localisation device, or core trap, is designed to catch the molten core of a reactor in the unlikely event of a meltdown, preventing it from escaping the containment building.

Kudankulam 3’s core catcher is a new-generation device, which is adapted to the relevant site conditions and safety requirements, the World Nuclear News (WNN) reported, quoting ASE. According to the ASE, it has improved seismic resistance, hydrodynamic and shock strength and is also equipped with flood protection and simplified installation and assembly technology.

Vladimir Angelov, ASE director for projects in India, said the core catcher is a “unique development by Russian nuclear experts” and one of the nuclear power plant’s most important safety systems. “This is a special system for beyond-design basis accident management,” he said.

The case of Kudankulam 3’s core catcher weighs 147.5 tonnes, and its components include block assemblies filled with non-metallic materials, a maintenance platform, cantilever truss and bottom plate. The device was lifted by crane to a height of 27 metres for installation in its design position, ASE said.

Construction of unit 3—one of two AES-92 design VVER-1000 units under construction in the second phase of the Kudankulam plant in Tamil Nadu—began in 2017. Kudankulam 1 and 2, both VVER-1000 units, have been in operation since 2014 and 2017 respectively. A third phase using the AES-92 design is also planned.

Meanwhile, the reactor pressure vessel and the core catcher for the under construction Kudankulam unit 4 have also been loaded on to a cargo ship in the port of Saint Petersburg, according to ASE. The shipment of equipment—9,000 m3 in total—is the thirteenth for unit 4, the Rosatom subsidiary and general contractor for the Kudankulam project has said.