Zirconium Fabrication Plant (ZFP)

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Last Updated: September 1, 2003
Other Name: N/A
Location: Hyderabad, India
Subordinate To: Department of Atomic Energy (DAE)
Size: Unknown
Facility Status: Active

The Zirconium Fabrication Plant (ZFP) became operational in 1971 as part of the Nuclear Fuel Complex (NFC). Although ZFP initially had the capability to produce 35 tons of zircaloy fuel tubes per year, by the late 1980s, this had expanded to 50 tons. Despite an additional $4.57 million upgrade that increased capacity to 80 tons, production at ZFP actually fell during the mid-1990s. This was primarily due to the poor performance of the NFC's Ceramic Fuel Fabrication Plant (CFFP) that produced natural uranium fuel pellets. The lack of uranium pellets for its zircaloy tubes eventually amounted to a 912,000-tube surplus at ZFP by March 1997. This situation was further compounded by the introduction of the NFC's New Zirconium Fabrication Plant (New ZFP) in 1997. This facility quickly became idle due to the CFFP's poor performance in pellet production. Delays in developing the Zirconium Sponge Project to produce zirconium ingots for the New ZFP were also to blame.

Zircon sand for ZRP's zircaloy tubes is currently supplied by Rare Earths Limited (REL). The NFC has recovered substantially from the 1990s and now has the capacity to produce 600 tons of natural uranium fuel pellets per year. This capability has led to increased natural uranium fuel bundle production that now stands at 12 percent above target levels. Through ZRP and its other entities, the NFC had manufactured 200,000 natural uranium oxide fuel bundles for pressurized heavy water reactors (PHWR) by 9 September 2000.

[1] The Comptroller and Auditor General of India, "Chapter 3: Departure of Atomic Energy," www.cagindia.org.
[2] DAE (Government of India), "Annual Report 2000-2001," Executive Summary available at www.dae.gov.in.
[3] DAE (Government of India), "Annual Report 2001-2002," Executive Summary available at www.dae.gov.in.
[4] "Department of Atomic Energy (DAE)," Federation of American Scientists, www.fas.org.
[5] Dr. C. Ganguly, "Manufacturing of Fuels for Water-Cooled Nuclear Power Reactors at NFC," Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL), 2001, www.npcil.org.
[6] DAE (Government of India), "Nuclear Fuel Complex," www.dae.gov.in.
[7] T.S. Subramanian, "Fuelling power," Frontline Online Edition, Vol. 19, Issue 06, 16-29 March 2002, www.frontlineonnet.com.

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