The Hyderabad-based Nuclear Fuel Complex (NFC) has received the first shipment of 60 tonnes of uranium ore concentrate in India from Areva NC, France recently, five months after India signed the deal with US.
“NFC will convert the concentrate into cylindrical pellets that will be used to fuel nuclear power plants,” said CEO of NFC, R.N. Jayaraj.
The pellets will be stacked and encapsulated in tubes, 19 of which are going to be assembled to form a bundle. According to Jayaraj, one such bundle, containing about 15kg of uranium dioxide, can generate 640,000 units of power.
The state-owned facility had placed an order for 300 tonnes of uranium with the French company. NFC supplies nuclear fuel bundles and core components to all nuclear power reactors in India. The country now has 17 of them, with a combined capacity of 4,120MW. However, only 54 per cent of the capacity can be utilised because of “fuel” scarcity.
Six more reactors are under construction and expected to raise generation to 3,160MW in the next five years, Jayaraj said.
The Indo-US deal is expected to help India build nuclear power generation capacity and bridge the demand-supply gap in power. The agreement might enable India to generate up to 40,000 MW of nuclear power by 2020.
Jayaraj said talks between the department of atomic energy and a Russian firm for the import of another 120 tonnes of uranium were in the final stages. Discussions are on with Kazakhstan.
An NFC executive said: “We will soon sign a pact with a Russian company to manufacture nuclear fuel in India and export it to them.”