In 2011 it was announced that FBTR was to undergo a 20-year lifetime extension, to 2030, to carry out large-scale irradiation of the advanced metallic fuels and core structural materials required for the next generation fast reactors.
The reactor has now been able to reach its design power level following the installation of a newly designed core containing "few" poison subassemblies, IGCAR said. (Neutron poisons are materials that have a large capacity for absorbing neutrons.) "After getting AERB (Atomic Energy Regulatory Board) clearance, FBTR was converted to new 40 MWt core and all the reactor physics parameters were measured to ensure safety. Reactor was re-started with new core and power was raised to 40 MWt," IGCAR said yesterday.
Work on a 500 MWe prototype fast breeder reactor - the PFBR - began at Kalpakkam in 2004. That unit is currently pencilled in for completion in October this year.