Ceramic Fuel Fabrication Facility (CFFF)

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Last Updated: September 1, 2003
Other Name: N/A
Location: Hyderabad, India
Subordinate To: Department of Atomic Energy (DAE)
Size: 225-300 tons capacity of uranium oxide fuel pellets production
Facility Status: Operational

The Ceramic Fuel Fabrication Plant (CFFP) is part of the Hyderabad-based Nuclear Fuel Complex (NFC), which became operational in 1971. The CFFP's main tasks are converting uranium dioxide powder from the NFC's Uranium Oxide Plant into uranium oxide fuel pellets and loading these pellets into zircaloy fuel tubes produced by the Zirconium Fabrication Plant (ZFP). Upon its completion in 1970, CFFP had a 100-ton fuel bundle capacity that was eventually increased to 225 tons in 1986. In 1989, the facility was further upgraded to a 300-ton capacity. However, despite these improvements, the quality of pellets produced at CFFP significantly fell during the early to mid-1990s and rejection rates for CFFP pellets were as high as 56.5 percent. As CFFP lacked the technology to retrieve uranium oxide powder from the rejected pellets, a stockpile accumulated that eventually amounted to 629.68 tons by March 1997. According to the NFC, the imperfections of these pellets were mainly due to cracking, bulging, and the sinterability of the uranium oxide powder. As a result of the CFFP's pellet problems, the NFC as a whole was only producing fuel bundles at 40.43 percent of its capacity during the mid-1990s. Three new plants were proposed by the NFC in 1992 including the New Uranium Oxide Fuel Plant (NUOFP) with a 670-ton pellet production capacity. This facility, though, was not completed by the time the New Zirconium Fabrication Plant (New ZFP) and the New Uranium Fuel Assembly Plant were ready for operations. These facilities, therefore, sat idle as the CFFP was incapable of producing enough high-quality fuel pellets for their use.

According to the DAE's 1999-2000 Annual Report, the CFFP's performance had improved and the facility was exceeding target goals. This recovery has led to an increase in natural uranium fuel bundle production at NFC that in 2002 stood at 12 percent above target levels. Through CFFP and its other entities, the NFC had manufactured 200,000 natural uranium oxide fuel bundles for pressurized water reactor by 9 September 2000.

Sources:
[1] The Comptroller and Auditor General of India, "Chapter 3: Department of Atomic Energy," 1998, www.cagindia.org;
[2] DAE (Government of India), "Annual Report 1999-2000," p. 4.3, Executive Summary available at www.vigyan.org.in;
[3] DAE (Government of India), "Annual Report 2000-2001," Executive Summary available at www.dae.gov.in;
[4] DAE (Government of India), "Annual Report 2001-2002," Executive Summary available at www.dae.gov.in;
[5] DAE (Government of India), "Nuclear Fuel Complex," www.dae.gov.in.

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