The second reactor of Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project (KKNPP) attained criticality at 8.56 PM on 10 July 2016.
On commencing the First Approach to Criticality (FAC) on 8 July 2016 by withdrawing the control rods from the reactor, boron dilution started a few hours later to allow neutron concentration to go up, which eventually led to the criticality of the reactor.
The KKNPP had submitted its reports to the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) and received the nod for criticality after the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change experts inspected the second unit. They submitted their report to the Supreme Court.
At present, India operates 21 reactors that can generate 5780 MW of electricity besides giving the country its atomic weapons.
Key highlights related to the criticality of the reactor
• Once the reactor starts generating 400 MWe of power, it is likely to be connected to the grid possibly within 45 days from the date of criticality.
• Generation of power will be raised to 500 MWe, 750 MWe, 900 MWe and 1000 MWe in stages.
• At every stage, various tests will be conducted and the technical parameters verified as mandated by the AERB.
• The atomic reactor will provide electricity to Tamil Nadu, Puducherry, Kerala and Karnataka. Tamil Nadu is expected to get a minimum of 462.50 MWe from the second unit.
What is criticality?
• Criticality is a nuclear term that refers to the balance of neutrons in the system.
• When the neutron population remains constant, this means there is a perfect balance between production rate and loss rate. Therefore, the nuclear system is said to be critical.
• The criticality of a system can be calculated by comparing the rate at which neutrons are produced to the rate at which they are lost through absorption and leakage out of the reactor core.
• A nuclear reactor is a system that controls this criticality or balance of neutrons.
About Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant
• Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant is a nuclear power station in Koodankulam in the Tirunelveli district of Tamil Nadu.
• The first unit of the plant had attained criticality on 13 July 2013.
• Unit 1 of the plant was synchronised with the southern power grid on 22 October 2013.
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