Even as the first reactor of Kundankulam plant started generating electricity and was connected to the grid on Tuesday, a series of tests are in progress lined up before the plant reaches its full capacity, a nuclear energy expert said today.
This includes profile tests for the basic systems and equipment of the unit, with the unit operating at different levels of electric capacity. The 1000MW unit is the first reactor at the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant Project (KKNPP), which is being built by the NPCIL with Rosatom, Russia's State Energy Corporation. The second unit (reactor) should reach the criticality stage in six months, sources said.
"Compliance of the actual and design values of the basicparameters of the reactor and the power unit as a whole will be confirmed. Time period required for carrying out all thiswork is likely to take six months," said a Russian nuclear expert Alexandr Uvarov, who is also the editor-in-chief of the atominfo.ru, a website catering to nuclear news and nuclear scientists.
The tests are conducted at different stages when the plant starts generating 50% of the capacity, followed by 75% and then subsequently 100%. The tests also include disabling of the basic systems ofthe unit and testing its stability in this situation. "At the same time, an entire series of tests take placewith the power unit disconnected from the power grid," Uvarovadded. These tests are mandatory as prescribed by the AtomicEnergy Regulatory Board (AERB) of India.
Uvarov added "the next stage follows which is the integrated testing of the power unit. At this stage, the unit is supposed to have worked without interruption for 72 hours, at the capacity of 100%."
During this time, one has to ensure that the equipment, the automatic control systems and the safety and control systems operate in a reliable, correct and cost-effective way. "For a test to be considered as successfully passed, itis essential that during the test, safe operation limits and conditions are observed, water chemistry of the primary and the secondary circuits should comply with the regulatory requirements. Also, the parameters of the equipment and the systems are not beyond the deviation limits established by the project," he said.
After performing the tests, the time comes for the preliminary acceptance of the unit, which is followed by 1-year period of operation. Uvarov said modern nuclear plants have a life-capacity of60 years but its life can be extended up to 80-100 years.