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SOURCE: World Nuclear Association

            The upgraded Apsara reactor (Image: BARC)

Construction of the French-supplied swimming pool type reactor began at BARC’s Trombay campus in Mumbai in May 1955. The 1 MWt reactor – which used highly-enriched uranium (HEU) as fuel – achieved first criticality in August the following year. For over 50 years the reactor was used for the production of isotopes, basic research, shielding experiments, neutron activation analysis, neutron radiography and the testing of neutron detectors. The Apsara reactor was permanently shut down in 2009.

However, following a major upgrade, a new version of Apsara has now been commissioned. Fuelled with plate-type dispersion fuel plates made of low-enriched uranium (LEU), this achieved criticality at 6.41pm on 10 September, BARC said. It has a maximum output of 2 MWt.

“By virtue of higher neutron flux, this reactor will increase indigenous production of radioisotopes for medical application by about 50% and would also be extensively used for research in nuclear physics, material science and radiation shielding,” it said.

“This development has re-emphasised the capability of Indian scientists and engineers to build complex facilities for health care, science education and research,” it added.