Chennai: The second 1,000 MW unit at the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project (KNPP) is expected to start fission process in November while the first unit is yet to restart power generation, according to the project operators.
According to the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd. (NPCIL), which manages the project, the second unit whose physical progress is 97.49 percent complete is expected to go critical (start nuclear fission for the first time) in November this year.
The NPCIL, instead of its usual practice of specifying the unit's expected date of commercial operation, has this time given the expected date of the plant attaining criticality.
Prior to that, the operator has to do a series of tests like hot run of the nuclear steam supply systems, removal of the dummy fuel (fuel assemblies that are exact replica of actual nuclear fuel assemblies, both in dimension and weight but without uranium) loading of the actual fuel and others, according to the NPCIL website.
During the hot run process, the nominal parameters of the plant are achieved and tests are conducted for design evaluation of the plant. After this, the nuclear fuel is loaded and the reactor is made critical - the time when the fission process starts.
Curiously, the time gap between these operations was a couple of months when the first unit started the fission process.
Meanwhile, the first unit, that was shut down for maintenance works in mid-July, is expected to start power generation Sep 10, according to Power System Operation Corporation Ltd.
Recently, the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) gave its permission to restart the unit.
India's atomic power plant operator NPCIL is setting up two 1,000 MW Russian reactors at Kudankulam in Tirunelveli district, 650 km from here. The total outlay for the project is over Rs.17,000 crore.
The KNPP is India's first pressurised water reactor belonging to the light water reactor category. The first unit attained criticality July 2013.