Give an account of the growth and development of nuclear science and technology in India. What is the advantage of fast breeder reactor programme in India?  (250 words)

India has a rich history in nuclear science and technology, evolving over time to focus on energy security, research, and peaceful applications.

Growth and Development of Nuclear Science and Technology in India

  • Early years (1940s-1950s): India’s nuclear interest began with the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR) in 1945. The Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) was formed in 1948, and the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) was established in 1954, with Homi J. Bhabha as its first chairman.
  • First research reactor (1950s-1960s): India’s first research reactor, Apsara, became operational in 1956. The country’s first nuclear power plant, Tarapur Atomic Power Station (TAPS), was commissioned in 1969 with assistance from the United States.
  • Indigenous development (1970s-1980s): After the 1974 nuclear test, India faced international sanctions, leading to indigenous nuclear technology development. India built its first Pressurized Heavy Water Reactor (PHWR) at the Rajasthan Atomic Power Station (RAPS) in 1973.
  • Expansion and international cooperation (1990s-2000s): India’s nuclear program expanded with more PHWRs. The 1998 nuclear tests led to temporary sanctions, but the 2005 India-US Civil Nuclear Agreement allowed India to engage in international nuclear trade.
  • Recent developments (2010s-present): India continues expanding its nuclear power capacity, with several reactors under construction. The country is exploring advanced reactor technologies, such as thorium-based reactors and fast breeder reactors.

Advantages of Fast Breeder Reactor Programme in India

Fast breeder reactors (FBRs) offer several advantages for India’s nuclear energy program:

  • Resource utilization: FBRs can convert fertile materials like thorium-232 and uranium-238 into fissile materials, increasing the available nuclear fuel supply.
  • Thorium reserves: India has one of the world’s largest thorium reserves, which can be utilized in FBRs for long-term energy security.
  • Reduced nuclear waste: FBRs can reduce the volume and radioactivity of nuclear waste by transmuting long-lived radioactive isotopes into shorter-lived or stable isotopes.
  • Energy independence: Developing indigenous FBR technology can reduce India’s dependence on imported uranium and contribute to energy independence.

In conclusion, India’s growth and development in nuclear science and technology have faced challenges and achievements. The fast breeder reactor program holds significant potential for energy security and resource utilization, making it a crucial component of India’s nuclear energy strategy.

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