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3 Stage Nuclear energy in India-UPSC

India's Three Stage Nuclear Power Program 

India's 3 phase Nuclear Power Program was imagined not long after Independence to meet the security and vitality requests of Independent India. India's Uranium saves established an extremely limited quantity, however India has a tremendous measure of thorium saves. Consequently to accomplish autonomy in the vitality space it was imagined to build up a 3 phase atomic force program using the plentiful thorium saves. For more data on the UPSC Exam, visit the given connection IAS Exam. 

When was India's Three-phase Nuclear Power Program conceived? 

India's 3 phase Nuclear Power Program was concocted in 1954. 

Who concocted India's Three Stage Nuclear Power Program? 

  • Homi J Bhabha, the dad of India's Nuclear program, concocted India's Three Stage Nuclear Power Program. 
  • What was the target behind detailing the Three Stages Nuclear Power Program? 
  • India has just 2% of World's Uranium saves, then again, India has 25% of the World's Thorium holds. 
  • Since India was not part of a portion of the International Nuclear arrangements, India was kept from partaking in universal exchange the Nuclear field. 
  • India has a gigantic populace and developing economy, to satisfy the vitality needs India needed to depend intensely on imports of coal, and unrefined petroleum. 
  • Henceforth India needed to devise techniques to act naturally adequate in satisfying vitality needs emerging because of a blossoming populace and economy; the 3 phase Nuclear Power Program was one of the responses to it.

How is vitality delivered utilizing Three Stages of the Nuclear Power Program? 

India has around 400 thousand tons of thorium saves, near 25% of Global Thorium saves. Thorium is certifiably not a fissile material, however it tends to be changed over into Uranium – 233, which would then be able to experience parting to create vitality. 

What are the three unique stages in the Nuclear Power Program? 

The atomic reactors utilized in various stages are extraordinary and the results of one phase will be utilized in succeeding stages. 
Beneath table gives subtleties on various stages and the procedure engaged with those stages 

Stages Process 

Stage 1 
Utilize characteristic Uranium to fuel a Pressurized Heavy Water Reactor (PHWR). 

The side-effect, Plutonium (Pu) – 239 is utilized in Stage 2. 

Stage 2 
Grow Fast Breeder Reactor (FBR) to deliver abundance, Pu-239, which will at that point lead to the transformation of Thorium (Th – 232) to fissile Uranium U-233. 

Stage 3 
Create Breeder Reactors, these are Thorium based Nuclear reactors. 

Three Stages of the Nuclear Power Program – Challenges 

  • Specialized difficulties associated with building Fast Breeder Reactors. 
  • Specialized difficulties associated with building Thorium based Reactors.

Area of Nuclear Reactors in India 

The beneath table gives a rundown of the areas of atomic reactors in India 

State Location 
Tamil Nadu-Kudankulam 
Uttar Pradesh-Narora 

Is it safe to fabricate Nuclear Power Plants in India? 

  • It is completely protected to fabricate the Nuclear Power plants, as they have an extremely high wellbeing record. Notwithstanding three mishaps, Three Mile Island (TMI) in the USA, Chernobyl in Russia, and Fukushima in Japan, there have been no mishaps. 
  • All the wellbeing highlights worked in the TMI case and there was no spillage of radiation. 
  • In Russia, the mishap was because of human mistake and for not following wellbeing conventions. 
  • In addition, Graphite was utilized as a mediator in the Chernobyl reactor. Graphite is a type of carbon and its flammable property prompted a blast in the reactor center. Such a situation is precluded in Indian reactors as the center is cooled and directed by overwhelming water reactors. 
  • Fukushima, Japan sort of situation is precluded as Indian reactors are not in a Geologically high seismic zone, they are worked at a stature which can't be influenced by any Tsunami waves.

Complete Explanation of 3 stage

• Thorium availability in India
• Fabrication of thorium based fuel
– Thorium metal fuel
– Utilisation of thorium fuel in India 
– Fabrication needs and technologies
• Reprocessing aspects of thoria fuel
• Waste management aspects

Monazite Composition

  • Thorium (ThO2) - 9.00%
  • REO 58.50%
  • P2O5 27.00%
  • Uranium (U3O8) - 0.35%

India’s Nuclear Energy Resource Position

Resource Quantity(te) Energy Potential
Uranium 73,000 328 in PHWR
42,230 in FBRs
Thorium 225,000 155,500 in Breeders

 Uranium resource is just about 1% of that of the world
 Thorium resource among the largest in the world

Thorium fuel cycle activities in India


J-rods of CIRUS 
fuel for Dhruva 
Thoria fuel bundles for PHWR 
Thoria fuel assemblies for FBTR blanket


CIRUS J-rod position
Dhruva regular fuel location 
PHWR initial flux flattening 
FBTR blanket 


J-rods of CIRUS at BARC & IGCAR
New facility PRTRF for PHWR Thoria bundles

Utilisation of U-233

KAMINI plate type fuel 
PURNIMA-II liquid fuel (Uranyl nitrate solution)

Experience with 233U in India

• PURNIMA II (1984-86) 
– Experiments with uranyl nitrate solution 
containing 233U reflected by BeO blocks.
• PURNIMA III (1990-93)
– Experiments were performed with 233U-Al 
Dispersion Fuel in the form of plates
– These measurements helped in finalising
the core of KAMINI reactor.
• KAMINI (1996)
– A 30 KW reactor based on 233U fuel in the 
form of U-Al alloy
– It is the only operating reactor in the 
world with 233U as fuel.

Thoria Spent Fuel Reprocessing- Challenges

• Head-End
– Disassembly, segregation 
– Provision for processing rejected fuel pellets
– Flouride induced dissolution
 Enhanced dissolution of Thoria Vs corrosion attack due to flouride.
 Optimization of Al(NO3
)3 addition-Impact on Waste management.

• Extraction
– Three component system, Third phase formation

• Partitioning
– Chemical reductants in place of U+4 to avoid contamination in U-233

• Product handling
– Handling & storage of Th-232
– Presence of U-232 with U-233 and its cleanup

• Reconversion
– Catalytic reduction of U233
+6 followed by oxalate pptn as an alternative to ADU for 
Uranium conversion

• Remote handling & Automation


 Sustenance of Nuclear Power is based on appropriate choice of fuel 
cycle which is ever evolving
 Closing the fuel cycle & thorium utilisation essential for
 Maximising use of existing resource (U & Th)
 Eventual decrease in long term radiotoxicity of nuclear waste
 Technological challenges for implementation of Multi strata fuel cycle
 Partitioning & Transmutation 
 Pyroprocessing
 Thorium deployment


To ensure the safety and security of using nuclear power there is need to:

  • ensure maintenance of the skills base
  • maintain continued effective safety regulation
  • foster progress on facilities for waste disposal and management must be given serious consideration.
  • maintain and reinforce international non-proliferation arrangements.

Nuclear Tests and Nuclear Doctrine

  • In 2003, India has adopted its Nuclear Doctrine of 'No First Use' i.e. India will use nuclear weapons only in retaliation against a nuclear attack on its Territory.
  • In addition with this in 1965, India with NAM countries proposed five points to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons to UN Disarmament commission. These are:
    • Not to transfer Nuclear technology to others
    • No use of nuclear weapons against non nuclear countries
    • UN security cover to non nuclear States
    • Nuclear disarmament
    • Ban on the nuclear test
  • In May 1974, India has conducted its first nuclear test in Pokharan with the codename of "Smiling Buddha".
  • Between 11 and 13 May, 1998, five nuclear tests were conducted as a part of the series of Pokhran-II. These tests were collectively called Operation Shakti–98.
  • According to a 2018 report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), Pakistan has 140-150 nuclear warheads compared to India’s 130-140 warheads.
  • Pakistan has not stated a “no first use” policy and there is little known about its nuclear doctrine.

India’s Stand on different Nuclear Treaties

  • Limited Ban Treaty: US, UK and USSR in 1963, signed this treaty. It allows nuclear tests only underground thus, prohibits the nuclear experiments on ground, underwater and in outer space. India has also ratified the treaty.
  • Treaty on Outer Space: Signed in 1967, it prohibits countries to test nuclear weapons in orbit or on celestial bodies like moon.
  • Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT): Signed in 1968, the treaty entered into force in 1970, now has 190 member states. It requires countries to give up any present or future plans to build nuclear weapons in return for access to peaceful uses of nuclear energy.
  • Three main objectives of the treaty are non-proliferation, disarmament, and the right to peacefully use nuclear technology.
  • India is one of the only five countries that either did not sign the NPT or signed but withdrew, thus becoming part of a list that includes Pakistan, Israel, North Korea, and South Sudan.

Why India didn’t sign the NPT?

  • The quest for freedom of action in an uncertain regional strategic environment and an asymmetric international system dominated by superpowers and China drove India to not sign the NPT and hedge, and to conduct the 1974 test.
  • India perceives its nuclear weapons and missile programs as crucial components of its strategic doctrine.
  • India rejects the Treaty on the grounds that it perpetuates—at least in the short-term—an unjust distinction between the five states that are permitted by the treaty to possess nuclear weapons, while requiring all other state parties to the treaty to remain non-nuclear weapon states.
  • One major point raised by India is that the five authorized nuclear weapons states still have stockpiles of warheads and have shown reluctance to disarmament which also angered some non-nuclear-weapon NPT states.
  • For eliminating the last nuclear weapons, the nuclear weapons state requires confidence that the other countries would not acquire nuclear weapons.
  • Moreover, India’s pledge of not to use nuclear weapons unless first attacked by an adversary and a self-imposed moratorium on nuclear test since 1998, established its credibility as a peaceful nuclear power even without joining the treaty.
  • Perceived security threats from Pakistan and Pakistan’s ally China and demonstration of a nuclear weapons capability guaranteed New Delhi’s ability to effectively hedge in an asymmetric international system, and a regional strategic environment where New Delhi felt largely cornered.
  • Maintaining a degree of political autonomy has driven independent India’s foreign policy choices. Major decisions that New Delhi took in the nuclear realm are representative of that. The grand bargain of NPT was certainly going to restrict India’s policy options.
  • Domestic political imperatives also dictated the timing and the rhetoric about the nuclear power.


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