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Equipment | February 2012

India is mainly dependent on PHWR technology

Queried about the difference between the US and Indian nuclear equipment market in terms of technologies, this is what MV Kotwal, President (Heavy Engineering) L&T, informs R Srinivasan.

Recently, the company had executed its first order of dry shielded canisters from Transnuclear Inc, USA, an AREVA Company, for storage of radioactive waste. The company had also received the prestigious ‘INS Industrial Excellence Award’ for its outstanding contribution in the nuclear power plant sector. The company’s president (Heavy Engineering) spoke to us about projects bagged, the latest order and the future. Excerpts of the interview:

What projects has the company bagged or which are in the pipeline in India and abroad?
The company’s current projects include reactor components, steam generators, safety heat exchangers, pressurisers, fuel transfer equipment as well as civil construction for PHWRs and PFBR. We are involved in some way in all the plants currently under construction in India. Important projects coming up in India will be 8x700 MWe PHWRs and 2x500 MWe FBRs. For the US and European market we will continue to supply dry storage canisters as per safety class 1 US nuclear standards. We hope to also participate in the Indian portion of work on the ITER nuclear fusion project that is being set up in France.

The company executed India’s first US order for nuclear power equipment. Is the US nuclear market more lucrative as compared to the domestic one?
Ours is the first Indian company to export equipment for nuclear power plants. Dry shielded canisters were manufactured as per US Nuclear Regulatory Commission guidelines. Successful execution of canisters has demonstrated our manufacturing capabilities and cost competitiveness to customers overseas. Such canisters are however not required for the current PHWRs and FBRs which form the Indian nuclear programme. In future, when more light water reactors come into operation, such a requirement will emerge.

What is the difference between the two markets in terms of technologies?
In US, pressurised water reactor (PWR) and boiling water reactors (BWR) are two main technologies with generation capacity share of 66 and 34 per cent respectively.

India is mainly dependent on indigenously developed pressurised heavy water reactor (PHWR) technology, out of 20 operating reactors, 18 are PHWRs and only two are BWRs, set up in the late 1960s. There is a 500 MWe fast-breeder reactor (FBR) under construction. Planned reactors will have PHWRs, FBRs and light water reactors such as AP 1000, ESBWR, EPR and VVER. Going forward, although more LWRs are planned, in addition to the two units under commissioning at Kudankulam, the bulk of Indian nuclear power addition is planned to be met through a large number of FBRs before the next generation thorium-based reactors become viable.

What products, apart from dry shielded canisters, does the company export?
We have signed MoUs with leading technology players such as Westinghouse, GE-Hitachi, Rolls Royce, AECL and Atomstroyexport, for joint co-operation. Recently, we have tied-up with, SPX, a global leader in moisture separator re-heaters for co-operation in Indian and global markets. Exports business opportunities have recently opened-up and our company will have a bigger role to play in future.

The company has supplied the products to Transnuclear, USA, for storage of radioactive waste. What is the size of the market for such products in India?
India has a three-stage nuclear programme with a closed fuel cycle, meaning nuclear waste from previous stage is used as part of fuel blanket in the next stage. Nuclear waste needs to be recycled for using it in the next stage.

Our company has recently undertaken some activities related to refurbishment of the reprocessing facility at Kalpakkam. We have supplied high radiation waste fuel transportation vessel in the past, however, we are not involved in vitrification technology, which is controlled by the DAE in India.

About L&T (nuclear)

Larsen & Toubro (L&T) is a globally recognised technology, engineering and construction group that employs around 48,000 people with annual revenues of $11.7 billion in 2010-11. In the case of nuclear power, it has an established range of capabilities as a total solution provider for pressurised heavy water reactor (PHWR), and fast-breeder reactor (FBR) technologies. The company has made significant pioneering contributions in supply of critical reactors and components and in construction for India’s programme for the 220/235 MWe PHWRs, the first 540 MWe PHWR and now for the first 500 MWe PFBR and the new 700 MWe PHWRs. With a strong track record in PHWRs and FBRs, the company is poised to play an important role in the light water reactor (LWR) programme.
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