|Last Updated:||September 1, 2003|
|Subordinate To:||Department of Atomic Energy (DAE)|
|Size:||Produces approximately 500 kilograms of zirconium sponge per year|
The Nuclear Fuel Complex (NFC) is currently in the process of building two additional zirconium sponge plants in Hyderabad and Palaykayal. The upcoming facility in Hyderabad, the New Zirconium Sponge Plant (New ZSP), will reportedly be ready in late 2003 and will have a 250-ton capacity. The project will only cost $2.07 million due to the fact that a solid infrastructure already exists at NFC. This facility will augment the existing Zirconium Sponge Plant (ZSP) that was undergoing upgrades in 2002. Since 1999, this plant has been exceeding production targets and in 2000-2001, its zirconium sponge batch capacity was increased from 550kg to 750kg.
In March 1989, the DAE approved the plans for a new zirconium sponge project in Palaykayal. However, this planned NFC-Tata Oil Mills Company Limited joint venture failed to materialize. Now referred to as NFC II, the 1,200-acre plant will eventually include three different facilities. Construction of the new NFC II sponge plant was planned to commence in March 2003 and should be ready for commissioning by 2006. The $45.5 million facility will be able to produce 500 tons of zirconium oxide and 250 tons of zirconium sponge.
Zirconium sponge is vital for the manufacturing of fuel assembly rods and casings. The sponge from these new zirconium plants will be converted into zircaloy ingots by NFC before being utilized for fuel rod production.
 The Comptroller and Auditor General of India, "Chapter 3: Department of Atomic Energy," 1998, www.cagindia.org.
 DAE (Government of India), "Annual Report 1999-2000," p. 4.3, Executive Summary available at www.vigyan.org.in.
 DAE (Government of India), "Annual Report 2000-2001," Executive Summary available at www.dae.gov.in.
 DAE (Government of India), "Annual Report 2001-2002," Executive Summary available at www.dae.gov.in.
 DAE (Government of India), "Nuclear Fuel Complex," www.dae.gov.in.
 R. Prasad, "Construction in six months on zirconium sponge plant, The Hindu (Chennai), 22 September 2002, www.hinduonnet.com.