Fast Breeder Test Reactor

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Last Updated: September 1, 2003
Other Name: FBTR
Location: Kalpakkam, Tamil Nadu
Subordinate To: Department of Atomic Energy
Size: 40 MWT fast breeder
Facility Status: Operational

The Fast Breeder Test Reactor (FBTR) first reached criticality in October 1985. The Indira Gandhi Center for Atomic Research (IGCAR) and Bhabha Atomic Research Center (BARC) jointly designed, constructed, and operate the reactor. The FBTR is a liquid metal fast breeder reactor based on the French "Rapsodie" design. The reactor uses a plutonium-uranium mixed carbide (MOX) fuel and liquid sodium as a coolant. The fuel is an indigenous mix of 70 percent plutonium carbide and 30 percent uranium carbide. Plutonium for the fuel is extracted from irradiated fuel in the Madras power reactors and reprocessed in Tarapur. The reactor was designed to produce 40MW of thermal power and 13.2MW of electrical power. The FBTR has rarely operated at its designed capacity and had to be shutdown between 1987 and 1989 due to technical problems. From 1989 to 1992 the reactor operated at a mere 1MWt. In 1993, the reactor's power level was raised to 10.5 MWt. The initial nuclear fuel core used in the FBTR consisted of approximately 50kg of weapons-grade plutonium. In September of 2002, fuel burn up in the FBTR for the first time reached the 100,000 megawatt-days per metric ton uranium (MWd/MTU) mark. This is considered an important milestone in breeder reactor technology. Using the experience gained from the operation of the FBTR, the center is designing and preparing a site for construction of a 500MWe Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor (PFBR).

[1] Andrew Koch, "Selected Indian Nuclear Facilities," Center for Nonproliferation Studies (CNS), 1999,
[2] "Annual Report 2000-2001," Executive Summary, DAE (Government of India),
[3] Indira Gandhi Center for Atomic Research (IGCAR),
[4] Mark Hibbs, "First Separation Line at Kalpakkam slated to begin operations next year," Nuclear Fuel, Vol. 22, No. 24, 1 December 1997, p. 8.
[5] Mark Hibbs, "Indian FBTR operating at 12.5MW, reprocessing line sought by 1999," Nucleonics Week, Vol. 38, No. 28, 10 July 1997, pp. 7-8.
[6] Pearl Marshall, "India and France renew old Friendship," Nucleonics Week, 4 July 1985, pp. 12-14.
[7] Sunil Saraf, "India's new FBTR fuel burn-up called important milestone in breeder technology," Nuclear Fuel, Vol. 27, No. 9, 26 September 2002.
[8] 2000 World Nuclear Industry Handbook (Wilmington, UK: Nuclear Engineering International, 2000), p. 198.
[9] Vyvyan Tenorio, "India's 40-MWt FBTR went critical late last week," Nucleonics Week, 24 October 1985, p. 5.

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