Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Nuclear Fuel Complex Makes A Mark At International Level

Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, March 31: From a stage where it has to struggle to put together
components for India's nuclear reactors, the city-based Nuclear Fuel Complex has
now graduated to the level of exporting technology to third world countries.

In the next few days, NFC is all set to export "End-closure Welding Machine"
through International Atomic Energy Commission. The Nuclear Fuel Complex
emerged successful in international bidding on this critical machine employed in
bundling fuel for nuclear reactors.

"We are exporting the End-closure Welding Machine to a third world country
through IAEC. We got the order to manufacture this critical equipment. It is now
ready for despatch. Two decades ago we could not secure the machine because
of international restrictions. We have to develop it using indigenous
technology and today we are in a position to export it," RN Jayaraj, NFC
chief executive said.

Fuel bundles loaded with uranium pellets are used in nuclear reactors. The
bundles have to be welded at both ends using precision technology without
any leakage. The bundles have to pass through the critical helium testing to
ensure that the welded ends are strong enough to withstand the heat and do
not leak in the least. The Nuclear Fuel Complex team has mastered the art.
The machine has been developed by the automation group of the NFC.

The integrity of the fuel bundle depends primarily on the integrity of the end-
cap weld. NFC has always worked on improving the technology. "These
tubes undergo helium leak tests which give us an integrated picture in the
case of end-cap welds," said deputy chief executive Sai Baba. The NFC has
also introduced robotic handling system for bigger fuel bundles which weigh
24 kgs.

Jayaraj told reporters that the GE has expressed interest in seamless Calendria
tubes used in nuclear reactors. "Seamless calendria tubes improve the
reliability and yield. GE wants these tubes for its nuclear reactors," he added.

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