Discussion in 'Strategic Forces' started by .v0id, Feb 12, 2009.
Thread Dedicated To Indian Nuclear & Missile Development .
India to have 5,000 km range Agni missile next year
India to have 5,000 km range Agni missile next year
Bangalore: India will develop a nuclear capable missile with a range of over 5,000 km as part of the Agni series by December next year, the country's top defence scientist has said. Revealing for the first time that the 5,000 km plus range missile, dubbed Agni 3 + will be ready for trials by 2010, DRDO Chief M Natarajan has said that work is already on to add a third engine to the Agni 3 missile that has already been successfully test fired.
With the new missile, India will be able to reach targets as far as Europe and will for the first time have the capability to reach any part of China. Till now, the 3,500 km plus Agni III has been the longest-range nuclear capable missile with India. Natarajan said that work is already on to add a third stage to the Agni III missile and he was confident that a 'technology demonstrator' will be ready by "December 2010".
Deccan Herald - BrahMos to get GPS data from Russian satellites
BrahMos to get GPS data from Russian satellites
By Rasheed Kappan, DH News Service, Bangalore:
Stunned by the recent failure of its BrahMos army version missile test, the Indo-Russian JV project has decided to reduce its reliance on the established US satellites and depend more on the eight Global Navigation Satellite System (Glonass) Russian navigation satellites, to obtain critical GPS data.
The project’s support from the US navigation satellites had come under a cloud, after a preliminary test failure study revealed that the space machines up there had apparently blinked.
During the failed test, the missile’s GPS system could not link its onboard computers with hovering satellites. This eventually crippled its guidance system, and the mission objectives were not achieved. The missile had apparently performed the flight plan but missed the target. It was fitted with an advance seeker which was to home in on the target using GPS data obtained through the US satellites.
BrahMos will now concentrate on the eight Glonass satellites, although they have a shorter range than the US spacecraft. “The necessary software modification has been incorporated to take care of the eventuality of not many satellites (eight is a small compared to the 24 US satellites) available for position updates,” BrahMos Aerospace CEO and MD, A Sivathanu Pillai told Deccan Herald on the sidelines of the ongoing “Aero-India 2009” airshow here.
The BrahMos special version was fully dependent on US satellites. The Russian global positioning network is not usually used by Indian defence agencies for their strategic programmes. BrahMos is a supersonic cruise missile that can be launched from submarines, ships, aircraft or land.
The missile test was part of the project’s “Block-2” version for operational deployment of the BrahMos under very stringent condition of multi-target environment. “This required a new software. The processing of various targets, manoeuvring the trajectory is a complex situation at supersonic speed. The software had to be in tune with such requirements,” explained Pillai.
Following the software modification, correction simulations were in progress. Once this was completed, the software would be cleared, he added.
domain-b.com : AeroIndia 2009: DRDO has developed extreme technologies, says Dr Prahlad
DRDO has developed extreme technologies, says Dr Prahlad news
In a wide ranging,comprehensive interview on DRDO's capabilties and development programme, Dr Prahalad, chief controller R&D (SI), points out that the gap between users needs and DRDO's capabilities is reducing. The organisation is now fully capable of working out a road map with the army, navy and air force to develop weapon systems needed over the next 5-7 years.
Distinguished scientist and chief controller, R&D (SI), DRDO
1. Could you speak about the Akash and Nag missiles? How do they fare with comparable technologies and how far away are they from induction?
The Akash and Nag missiles were part of the Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme begun in 1984 under Dr Abdul Kalam as the chairman. We then took a purposeful decision that Akash and Nag would be the most complex and sophisticated missile systems in the IGMDP.
So, it was given the maximum time also, as compared to Prithvi, Trishul and Agni and others. Akash and Nag were given nearly 15 years. So, we knew at that time it was a very complex system and taking up the challenge we began developing these two systems.
In case of Akash, it has been uniquely configured and customised for our own Indian Army and air force. During the initial discussions with the army and the air force, they gave some requirements like it should be mobile, it should have a 30 km range, a very effective high kill probability, it should be integrated with the automatic command and control system, it cannot be manually operated, should have multiple target handling capability, which means that several targets could be engaged with several missiles simultaneously.
In most missile systems you have boost and coast – that is you boost the missile for some time and allow it to coast, or, boost, sustain and coast. The requirement here, however, was continuous thrust, or, all the way thrust. Once you start coasting, the maneuverability of the missile comes down. This was not acceptable to the services. They felt it should be continuously maneuverable till it intercepts the target, which meant the requirement was that the power/thrust had to be continuously on.
These were a unique set of requirements –such a missile doesn't exist anywhere in the world and it meant that we had to uniquely configure the missiles. That's how Akash was realised, We took 5 years more than what we promised to the army and air force, but when tested in the last development phase the results were 9/9 –that is out of the 9 missiles tested all them met the guidance and accuracy control requirements. Based on these tests the Indian Air Force has placed orders for 2 squadrons and the army is expected to follow suit.
Bharat Electronics will be the nodal production agency along with Bharat Dynamics and there will be at least 40 industries from the public and private sectors that will be involved with the manufacture of these missiles in large numbers.
So, this is one story and we expect that based on the expenditure of Rs600 crore that we have invested in the Akash missile, business worth about Rs7,000 crore should result for radars, missiles, launchers and control systems all put together within the next 5 years.
So, this is the story for Akash.
Coming to Nag, similarly, this missile is meant for the army, which wanted a missile with a 4-km range and fire-and-forget capability. That means we launch the missile from a tank and leave the place - this is also called the shoot-and-scoot technique. The Nag was specifically designed with a fire-and-forget capability.
The missile has what is called a tandem warhead. The warhead will have two stages – in the first stage the missile will make a hole in an enemy tank and in the second stage it will go inside and blow it up. This is a very special technology and we had to perfect it.
So this is the Nag- a tandem warhead, 4-km, tank-mounted, fire-and-forget, and very accurate, missile.
The last flight test has been successfully completed in day and night desert conditions in short range and long range test firings and we expect the army to place an order over the next couple of months.
2. The 'Shaurya' was a surprise development – where does it fit into the Indian missile spectrum?
If you look at our long-range strategic missiles you know we have Prithvi and Agni for ballistic or near-ballistic systems. Prithvi is a liquid fuel system and Agni is a solid fuel system.
Now the Agni has certain mobility, certain freedom to move from place to place. The Prithvi has its own certain requirements - it requires preparation time because of its liquid engines.
So we had to configure a unique third missile called 'Shaurya' which can be canisterised. Once sealed in a canister, it can be taken to any place giving it great tactical and operational advantage. It canbe deployed anywhere - in hilly terrain, desert etc. It is a relatively light, highly mobile, solid propellant fuelled missile. There is no preparation required.
So it has its own USP - and as per the requirement of the services we will be taking up the production of Shaurya.
3. The country's BMD technology would appear to be moving apace – could you dwell on aspects of the technologies that are being brought into play for the whole programme?
Ballistic Missile Defence or missile defence systems, are developed based on the threat perceptions as presented to us by the armed forces, which take into consideration threats from our neighbours, their plans etc. Based on these inputs we are developing certain critical technologies against ballistic missiles.
For this we need some unique technologies, such as high-speed propulsion, which can take missiles to hypersonic speeds. You need a high burning rate, solid propellants, which can take the missile quickly to high Mach number.
We need very high accuracy guidance so that the missile can even physically obliterate a hostile missile – what is called a hit-to-kill capability. For this we need not only radio gadgets but also thermal infra-red gadgets. So for this we need a combined dual-guidance –not only radar but also imaging guidance. This requires very high accuracy algorithms.
Also we need very quick reaction systems. When somebody launches a ballistic missile the time available to react to the threat is very short - a few seconds. So, the instant you know a missile has been launched you have to launch the defence system within seconds, fly at a much higher speed than the attacking missile and intercept very accurately at very high altitudes. So this requires what is known as extreme technologies. These have now been developed and we are trying to integrate these technologies and produce a weapon that can be used by the armed forces.
4. How do you look at an era of increased international cooperation in the development of technologies in the defence sector?
This is the new era of 2000+. In the 80s when we started our major system programmes like Arjun or Sonar or IGMDP or torpedo or radar, we never had the opportunity of international co-operation.
We were buying some components and making everything in-house. We built the computer from scratch from circuit boards. That was an era where we had to do everything in-house and within our industries and everything was a long drawn out and hard process.
Whereas in 2000, fortunately, the whole world has recognised our capability by seeing our LCA, main battle tank Arjun, radars, torpedoes, missiles and small arms that are in production. Our capabilities in prototyping, developing, testing and fielding our own weapons have been recognised.
So now they know that they cannot take us for granted. If they want business, they have to work together. Many countries have come forward for collaborative research and joint development. We have projects now with USA, Israel, Russia, Italy, Germany, Belarus, Brazil, France, UK among others.
In the 80s era what used to take 15 years to make we can now make in 5 years to 7 years. So, we have cut down the development time by almost 1/3rd because of the immense opportunities for international collaboration.
continued in next post
5. With respect to the areas of missiles could you dwell on two aspects:
b)One being the development of technology in this sector
c)The level of operationalisation that such technology has attained
Missile technologies are front-end technologies - very challenging and display characteristics such as high speed, high lethality, high maneuverability and quick reaction. So all this require the limits of technology whether you take materials, propulsion or control.
So of the technologies for this kind of technology for eg propulsion: solid propulsion, liquid propulsion and ramjet propulsion or if you take flight control systems and autocontrol systems, we need computers, electro actuation systems, lot of software intelligence for making the control system work and then we have navigation and guidance, we have to take the missile to long distances and guide it accurately to intercept the target.
When we take the warheads, each missile requires a different type of warhead Nag requires a tandem warhead, Akash requires a fragmentation warhead, Prithvi requires a runway penetration warhead.
We also have the C4I - command, control communication and intelligence integration. How do we do it? The missile is the part of network centric operation. We have to also develop guidance on how to use radar gadgets and imaging infrared technology to recognise targets using its thermal characteristics by getting a thermal picture to reach the tank and finding out its centre of gravity to hit it at the centre of the tank. This type of technology is the imaging infrared technology and you need millimeter wave technology for very accurate guidance and infrared imaging for imaging of a target.
So these technologies are required to be simultaneously developed for the missiles India has developed.
For operationalisation, these technologies go into the missiles eg: the Akash missile the ram jet propulsion is inside; the pre-fragmented warhead technology inside, very accurate radio or radar guidance is used in the missile system and auto pilot with a very powerful computer to make the missile maneuver to hit a maneuvering target, so you can out-maneuver a maneuvering target, at low, medium and high altitudes under any conditions rain, dust, summer, winter night etc.
So, these technologies get imbibed into the missile system, the ground system, the launcher system, and is integrated into the command control network. So the technology gets operationalised in the missile systems when they get fielded.
Now how we get these technologies? We have three strategies to develop: some of it is got from academic institutions. We go to the university professors, work with them on how to develop new science and technology.
Secondly, DRDO can jointly develop new technologies with industrial partners. For example, an actuation system, which we have mostly done in DRDO-industry collaboration.
Then comes foreign collaboration. Sometimes we develop technologies with foreign collaboration with our partner countries.
If none of this works, then the final strategy is in-house development within our laboratories and we have developed many technologies in-house.
So this is how we develop new technology, new science, perfect it and incorporate it into weapon systems
6. Obviously there exists 'dynamic tension' between the need to develop indigenous technologies and the need for the
services to be in a state of readiness, armed with contemporary technologies. How do you harmonise such tensions?
Fortunately this harmonisation is already taking place. Probably there was some gap in the capabilities of DRDO and the requirements of the armed forces. They require it fast and the latest to be made available. Since things were always available to them on their tables they always were bombarded with temptations to purchase but today two things are happening - arms research development and marketing has slowed down tremendously worldwide in comparison to the '80s. They are no more developing things just like that but develop it only on demand.
Secondly the armed forces have realised that a homegrown weapon system, sonar or radar etc has many advantages to them. They will be able to get life support very easily, product up-gradation, software and customisation. So, many things are possible and finally both cost of ownership, maintenance will be much lower if it is indigenously based and the things are available at your fingertips. So the armed forces are also trying to tap DRDO's capabilities to the maximum.
The gap between the user's needs and DRDO's capabilities is reducing. Today we are able to sit down with the army, navy air force to work out a road map on the kind of weapons they would need in the next 5-7 years. What new technologies they think we should develop and how to realise these technologies?
Thus we have generated 2 road maps - one for technology and the other for products. We have had extensive discussions on these even up to how they should look. For example Rustum, a medium altitude, long endurance unmanned vehicle where we have combined QRs (qualitative requirements) where the order rate is above 100 for all forces combined. When the services say that if you can develop this within the next 4 years within our requirements, at least an order of x number will be placed. The services are ready today how much they will order called MOQ (minimum order quantity).
When we have such a guarantee from the buyers, then it is easy to go the industry which can work with us to expedite the development because the industry will make the prototype, assemble it immediately and production time or realisation time will come down. Some of the industry partners are ready to fund the development cost also, even if it is 15 per cent or 20 per cent. When they fund the development cost they become the stakeholders and then responsibility increases and then it is produced according to specifications within the stipulated time and assemble and market it as well.
So, we are tying up the industry, the MOD, the three services and DRDO – we are converging, synergising, harmonising so we work together and see that the systems are developed for the good of the country, to meet our own a la carte service - customised to the taste, schedule, performance, quality, upgradation.
Plus this is also good for the health of the Indian economy as employment opportunities increase and industry capabilities increase, even drawing orders from other countries. Based on these technologies, I have observed that many of our SME and small-scale industries getting export orders.
So you see how the level of the economy goes up, the employment potential increases, our knowledge expands, university research level goes up, and our own departments of science and technology, their own understanding and knowledge goes up. So, as a country we can see an elevation of status technologically and economically.
With this harmony we see many good things happening
Anyone know when the MIRV will be coming out???
A good read
“Shourya missile cannot be easily detected”
It has high manoeuvrability, says DRDO Director-General
Indigenous navigation system worked well
“Shourya has given India a second strike capability”
CHENNAI: The “Shourya” missile that was test-fired successfully on Wednesday “flew at five times the speed of sound, that is Mach 5, for 300 km” of its 600-km range, according to M. Natarajan, Scientific Adviser to the Defence Minister. Its velocity gradually tapered off during the remaining 300 km of its flight and then it plunged vertically over the targeted site in the Bay of Bengal.
What was outstanding about the Shourya’s success was the performance of its indigenous navigation system with the help of a ring-laser gyroscope, Mr. Natarajan said on Thursday. He called it “a sophisticated navigation and guidance system produced by the Research Centre, Imarat” (RCI) in Hyderabad.
“We flew our own navigation system in this missile. It worked very well. This is an important step forward for the country in the navigation of missiles, aircraft and spacecraft,” he said. No country would provide India this navigation system.
After the Shourya was fired from its canister, it rose to a height of 50 km and then flew horizontally to reach its targeted site. As it reached its maximum speed, it led to the missile heating up to 700 degrees Celsius. To cool the missile, it was rolled.
“We did a rolling manoeuvre which gives uniform heat to the missile,” said Mr. Natarajan, who is also Director-General, Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).
He watched the test-firing of the new missile from the Integrated Test Range (ITR) at Chandipur-on-sea, Balasore, Orissa. Shourya is a product of the DRDO. The missile’s Programme Director was A.K. Chakrabarti.
While about 2,000 degrees Celsius was generated when Agni series of missiles re-entered the atmosphere, only several hundred degrees Celsius was generated during Shourya’s re-entry.
The missile had high manoeuvrability. So it could not be easily detected by the enemy, Mr. Natarajan said. Shourya is about 10 metres long. It can carry warheads weighing more than 500 kg.
W. Selvamurthy, Chief Controller (R&D), DRDO, said the Shourya missile provided the country with “a second strike capability” because it was a variant of the under-water launched K-15 missile (Sagarika). “We can keep the missile in a secured position [silo] to carry either conventional or nuclear warheads,” Dr. Selvamurthy said.
DRDO sources said that although the Shourya needed a silo with a maximum depth of 50 metres to lift off, it could be launched from 30-metre deep silos. It had a booster which fired underground and another which fired in the air.
The Hindu : Front Page : “Shourya missile cannot be easily detected”
India sets stage for laser- guided missile
India sets stage for laser- guided missile
First Published : 16 Nov 2008 12:40:00 AM IST
Last Updated : 16 Nov 2008 01:22:55 AM IST
KOCHI: After registering significant success with conventional missile systems, India is all set to test its first laser-guided missile at the Interim Test Range, Balasore, Orissa.
The missile, Sudarshan, is the latest weapon system developed indigenously to occupy the niche of a precision delivery mechanism. It can neutralise any target in a 800-1,000 km range with a zero margin of error.
Developed by the Aeronautical Development Establishment, Bangalore, Sudarshan is a versatile missile that can be used by the army, navy and air force. It suits the requirements of the artillery for a long-distance strike weapon. The navy can also fire it from an onboard launcher.
“The first version will use a ground-based launcher. However, subsequent ones could be fired from a flying fighter or drone. This will enhance the range,” a source told to this website's newspaper.
Sudarshan will use a laser of a specific frequency bandwidth to locate the target. The laser creates a heat signature on the target. The missile recognises the signature and homes in on it even if the target is moving, sources said. “The target can be spotlighted using laser beamed from a ship or air. The onboard systems can light it up and the missile follows the reflected light to reach targets that need pinpoint accuracy,” said the source.
However, unlike the practice of giving continuous laser guidance to a missile using an aircraft or a handheld designator, Sudarshan’s instrumentation enables it to chase a target once the navigation systems lock in on it.
The ADE is equipping the missile with global positioning system technology. Like all modern missiles, it will have a three-dimensional locking mechanism using latitude, longitude and elevation.
The preliminary trials, the sources said, were satisfactory. A dummy target was lit up using a laser fired from a battle tank. The missile’s navigation system picked up the light and eliminated the target. Sudarshan’s final trials are expected to take place within three months.
So it can hit moving objects , like missiles ?
AD according to the article YES
kinda confusing article
India plans delayed scramjet flight test for 2010
India plans delayed scramjet flight test for 2010
By Radhakrishna Rao
India's first scramjet technology demonstrator will be flight-tested next year, four years later than planned and having failed to meet two previous targets, by the government-run Defence Research and Development Laboratory in Hyderabad.
The Indian military wants to use scramjet systems for a hypersonic missile. The first demonstrator flight test will be carried out at India's integrated test range on its east coast.
Flight International revealed in 2004 that the country had planned a 2006 scramjet test. When that failed to take place, Israel Aerospace Industries announced in 2007 it was helping India develop the technology for a first flight in 2008.
"The biggest challenge [will] be how to sustain stable combustion during the high-speed trans-atmospheric flight of the vehicle," says sources at the Indian government's Defence Research and Development Organisation, under which the laboratory operates.
India has longer-term plans to use scramjet technology for its proposed 25,000kg (55,000lb) spaceplane called Avatar, the Sanskrit word for a god who appears in bodily form on Earth. The spaceplane would ferry civilian and military satellites of about 1,000kg into a low Earth orbit.
India Stresses Missile Development
Interview of Dr. saraswat, must watch
Tritium breakthrough brings india closer to an h-bomb arsenal
TRITIUM BREAKTHROUGH BRINGS INDIA CLOSER TO AN H-BOMB ARSENAL
Source: Janes Intelligence Review, January 1998
Nestled between the nuclear capabilities of China and the nuclear aspirations of Pakistan, India would seem to be in an unenviable strategic position. As T. S. Gopi Rethinaraj reports, however, a breakthrough by Indian scientists in the economical production of tritium may have tipped the strategic scales in New Delhi's Favour.
The importance of tritium as a strategic material in the creation of thermonuclear weaponry, given the insignificance of its other uses, cannot be overstressed. Its importance becomes even more apparent when one considers the major leap from the ability to manufacture fission weaponry to the capacity to build a thermonuclear weapon like a hydrogen bomb. It is within this context that the pioneering work in extracting highly enriched tritium conducted by scientists at India's Bhabha Atomic Research Center (BARC) assumes significance. In this area at least, Indian scientists have reason to cock a snook at the USA.
While the USA had stopped producing tritium by about 1988 due to safety reasons and ageing facilities, the Indian breakthrough underscores the fact that tritium can now be produced at a fraction of the estimated US$ 7 billion needed to produce the isotope at current costs using the accelerator process, as was done in the USA. The Indian scientists have managed to extract highly enriched tritium from heavy water used in power reactors.
The advantage of the technology developed by BARC is that it assumes heavy water as the moderator in power reactors when most of those in the West (including Russia) -- with the exception of Canada -- use light water. The other advantage is a short gestation period; the Indian tritium facility takes less than two years for completion. This is not to say that India has already secretly developed the H-Bomb, but the very fact that tritium, according to all available indications, is now being stockpiled puts India in a comfortable position in terms of nuclear deterrence, given the nuclear ambitions of Pakistan and the already-nuclear China.
On the trail of Indian Tritium
It was an innocuous paragraph at the end of a recently published paper on detritiation that let the cat out of the bag. The paper appeared in a book entitled Heavy Water- Properties, Production and Analysis, which was authored by two BARC scientists, Sharad M. Dave and Himangshu K. Sadhukhan, with a Mexican scientist, Octavio A. Novaro. On p. 461 of the work, it says the following:
The Bhabha Atomic Research Center, Bombay, India, also having developed a wetproof catalyst for LPCE liquid phase catalytic exchange, has employed it for detritiation. A pilot plant based on LPCE cryogenic distillation with about 90 per cent tritium removal from heavy water has been commissioned and is under experimental evaluation. Reportedly, this facility seems to be the only operating LPCE-based detritiation facility in the world. A commercial detritiation plant based on this process is being set up at one of their nuclear power stations.
According to BARC scientists, the new technology is aimed at lowering the tritium content in heavy water circulating around the moderator circuit. They argue that the project is being executed to prevent the many health hazards associated with the leakage of tritium from reactors. When asked what is exactly being done to the highly radioactive tritium so recovered, the scientists refuse to talk - even under conditions of anonymity. When pressed, some ventured to comment that a scenario in which the recovered tritium is being stockpiled for strategic purposes cannot be ruled out.
Curiously, there seems to exist some confusion regarding how classified the project is, but scientists at the Nuclear Power Corporation (NPC), the government controlled organization that constructs and runs India's commercial power reactors, remain tight-lipped on the entire issue. Both A Sanatkumar and C Surendar, group directors at NPC, said the same thing: "We are unable to understand what you are talking about. There is no such project at Kalpakkam".
When the author contacted the managing director's officers said: "Please don't ask anything about the detritiation plant. We have been asked not to talk about it". However, there was no categorical denial of such a project being at the implementation stage.
Incidentally, some time ago, the NPC management announced that one of the power reactors at Kalpakkam near Madras in southern India would be opened to research activities. According to highly placed sources, the commercial version of the pilot plant is taking shape at Kalpakkam. Recently, labour trouble hit the plant with the workers striking for nearly a month because of alleged high levels of radioactivity. Employees working in the station are still puzzled as to why their dosimeter readings have increased in recent times.
Dr. Rajagopalan Chidambaram, Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC), evaded probing questions relating to the project. When asked persistently, he admitted: "Yes, there is a pilot plant for detritiation of heavy water in BARC" Asked whether the project is meant for stockpiling tritium, he replied: "No Comment". Also refusing to comment when asked about the project was former AEC chief P. K. lyengar, one of the pioneers of India's 1974 fission bomb experiment.
With eight operating Pressurized Heavy Water Reactors (PHWRs) at Kalpakkam, Rawatbhatta, Narora and Kakrapar plus more to come in future, India has struck a gold mine in tritium production, as the BARC pilot plant can be implemented at all of these power stations. Scientists say that the size of the commercial plant would be just two or three times the size of the pilot plant. According to technical estimates, 2400 curies of tritium could be produced for every MW of electricity produced in heavy water reactors.
Since, unlike fission bombs, fusion bombs have no critical size, bombs of various intensities could be fabricated using tritium. Fusion bombs require an ambient temperature of 100 million oC to overcome the Coulomb Repulsion Barrier (CRB) which prevents lighter atoms from coming together -- meaning that fission bombs are a prerequisite for detonating fusion bombs.
India first demonstrated its capability to explode fission bombs in 1974 in the deserts of Pokhran in Northwest India. Under the circumstances, the inference is inescapable: that the breakthrough in BARC puts India on the road of self-sufficiency in terms of strategic materials for defence purposes. It is another matter that Indian scientists are loath to call it 'production' of tritium, but instead choose to talk of 'detritiation'.
"Look, our intention is not to produce tritium," said a senior scientist directly involved with the pilot detritiation plant at BARC. "Our aim is to lower the tritium content in the heavy water, which gets contaminated after fission and neutron capture by deuterium atoms. If tritium comes out as a by-product, what can we do about it?" Asked what was to be done with the tritium so obtained, the scientist just smiled.
Tritium is a radioactive isotope of hydrogen with a half-life of 12.3 years, meaning that 5.5 per cent of tritium will decay into helium-3 every year. Deuterium, another isotope of hydrogen, along with the elementary gas itself, is stable and non-radioactive. Tritium decays and is converted into a non-radioactive form of helium.
Although tritium is present naturally in the environment, this amount is too small for practical recovery. Therefore, tritium required for strategic purposes has to be produced artificially, and there are two ways to do this, both involving nuclear reactions with neutrons: in the first method, neutrons are made to strike a target of lithium or aluminum metal, which gives tritium and other by-products; the second method involves a neutron reaction with helium-3 which gives tritium and hydrogen as by-products.
The first method is widely used and was employed for several years at the Savannah River Site (SRS) in the USA before it was shut down in 1988. The production of tritium requires the generation of energetic neutrons, the source of which can be either power reactors or accelerators. In reactors, neutrons are produced as a result of fission, while in accelerators they occur as a result of spallation, where protons strike a metallic target and 'kick off' neutrons from the metal.
Tritium finds peripheral use in medical diagnostics, but it is mainly used in the construction of hydrogen bombs and to boost the yield of both fission and thermonuclear weapons. Contained in removable and refillable reservoirs in nuclear arsenals, it boosts the efficiency of the nuclear materials. Although no official data is available on inventory amounts of tritium, each thermonuclear warhead is said to contain 4 g of the isotope. However, neutron bombs designed to release more radiation will require 10-30 g of tritium, according to a status report prepared by the US Department of Energy's Science Policy Research Division and an assessment made by the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research (IEER) in Maryland, USA.
Authoritative US reports put the USA's total tritium production since 1955 at 225 kg. After decay, it is now left with 75 kg of tritium, which is sufficient to take the country through the first quarter of the next millennium.
Even in low levels, tritium has been linked to developmental problems, reproductive problems, genetic and neurological abnormalities and other health problems. Additionally, there is evidence of adverse health effects on populations living near tritium facilities. Tritium contamination has been reported at the Savannah River site in ground water soil from operational releases and accidents. No figures are available relating to the Indian stockpile of tritium, however. The pilot plant at BARC was set up, according to well-placed sources in the department, in 1992.
India's three-stage nuclear planning has come in handy for the project:
* in the first stage Indian power reactors use natural uranium;
* the second stage employs fast breeder reactors that will use plutonium from the first stage;
* finally, the third phase aims at using thorium, since India has abundant thorium reserves in the beach sands of Kerala and Orrisa.
The first stage uses reactors moderated by heavy water, and it is in these reactors that Indian scientists have struck a gold mine in tritium production.
The tritium build-up in these reactors increases with the number of years of plant operation. The pilot plant is called the detritiation plant because the process involves lowering tritium levels in heavy water, but the fact remains that the by-product is highly enriched tritium. The reason why BARC developed new technology was to reduce radioactive levels by lowering the tritium content in heavy water. The department set up a pilot plant to achieve this and struck pay dirt: enriched tritium at low cost which needed only additional detritiation plants to be added to the country's already-available nuclear infrastructure.
The BARC technology is all the more laudable in that it is 100 per cent indigenous and the first of its kind anywhere in the world, according to experts preferring to remain anonymous. Scientists at BARC's Chemical Engineering Group recently developed a wet-proof catalyst for LPCE (the process that yields highly enriched tritium from heavy water), but they refrained from talking about the defence implications of the project. They have called the facility a detritiation plant to avoid charges of stockpiling a strategic raw material crucial in the production of thermonuclear weapons.
The presence of tritium in heavy water has been a major concern of reactor engineers in India for a long time. During the operation of a PHWR, tritium is produced as a result of fission and irradiation of reactor components with neutrons. This tritium remains in the fuel and later passes into the effluents in the fuel reprocessing plants. The BARC pilot plant produces tritium using moderator heavy water, where tritium is produced due to the capture of neutrons by deuterium atoms in the water. This reaction, as reported in scientific literature, is known to yield maximum tritium.
Although any method employed in the production and enrichment of isotopes can also be used in the case of tritium, the BARC scientists' choice of process was governed by safe handling and economic reasons. BARC scientists first worked with the water distillation and electrolytic method, which proved to be risky and inefficient. This produces tritium in its most hazardous form: liquid. They instead settled for the method of chemical exchange followed by cryogenic distillation. In this method the tritium is in a liquid phase only for a short time during the chemical exchange process, with the final product collected in gaseous form and kept in double containment to ensure safety. This method yields 90 per cent enriched tritium. It is worth noting that weapons also use tritium in its gaseous phase.
The most important hurdle in producing tritium by this method is finding a suitable catalyst for the process because heavy water from the moderator and pure deuterium gas have to pass through the column containing the catalyst. Besides, the exchange reactions of deuterium between hydrogen and water require a slow and suitable catalyst, taking into account the slow nature of these reactions. Nickel coated by chromium, platinum or other noble metals supported on silica or activated charcoal have been found effective for vapour phase exchange reactions, but BARC's exchange reactions occur in the liquid phase and require some other species of catalyst. All the catalysts mentioned above lose their activity in contact with liquid water and prevent hydrogen from reaching them.
Indian scientists have overcome this problem by imparting hydrophobicity to the catalysts. Since water in the liquid form wets and contaminates the catalyst, the suitable solution was a wet proof catalyst, which is what the BARC scientists opted for. A number of technical snags associated with the proper choice of catalyst have been eliminated, and experiments conducted to check the performance of the catalyst have shown positive results. Although the department undertook this work in the early 1970s, it was only recently that they perfected the technology.
The pilot plant's equipment is indigenously designed. Scientists, have taken into consideration various aspects of handling inflammable gases like hydrogen, deuterium and the radioactive tritium. Pipelines, fitting-valves and other equipment are made of special steel, all suitable for cryogenic conditions. The entire cryogenic part of the plants is housed inside a vacuum-insulated enclosure, which provides thermal insulation for its components. The column sections have been insulated with mylar to prevent any cold leak.
Being a multi-component distillation system, it is not simple to operate. The difficulties encountered include the decay heat of tritium (associated with the decay of tritium into helium-3), which would evaporate all the liquid. The pressure drop is minimized, however, and temperature variations are kept to a minimum.
Scientists from the group say the philosophy of the plant's operation is based on fail-safe conditions. The operation of the entire distillation column takes place at atmospheric pressure and an ambulant temperature of -268 oC . The whole plant has two sections: a low tritium activity section and a high tritium activity section (see graphic). The scientists involved say that nearly 240 stages are involved in the tritium enrichment process, and so it has to be carried out in three-stage cascade distillation units.
The deuterium-tritium gas which emerges from the second stage is 100 per cent enriched. After this the tritium is separated using an equilibrator, with the condensed product serving as the reflux for the third stage. The highly concentrated tritium is drawn off periodically from the bottom of the cryogenic column and immobilized in a matrix of metal tritride, which would be compact, safe and stable at normal temperature. The gas can be recovered at any time by heating the metal tritride. At this stage the pure tritium is ready for stockpiling.
India has now acquired a unique place in the annals of tritium production. Lacking the 'big money' to go in for capital-intensive methods, India's economic position - combined with the hostile attitude it faced from the West following the country's refusal to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and Fissile Material cut-off Treaty - has taught Indian scientists to rely on economically viable indigenous methods. They therefore decided to extract tritium from moderator heavy water in power reactors, which is plentiful. This year India exported 100 tons of heavy water to South Korea.
Impact of Indo-US Agreement on Indian Strategic Weapon program
Impact of Indo-US Agreement on Indian Strategic Weapon program:
Will it make available more indigenous Uranium reserve for Indian Weapons Program?
On July-18,2005 President Bush and Prime Minister Singh in a major breakthrough announced an agreement on ‘Global Strategic Partnership’ involving many sub-agreements, including civil nuclear energy cooperation, whose details were further agreed on March 2, 2006. The civil nuclear power cooperation envisages United States to remove sanctions legislated by US Congress in 1978 on nuclear fuel and power-plant technology, and work with US lead NSG to accommodate nuclear fuel supply for Indian civilian nuclear plants. India in turn will separate its strategic facilities from civilian facilities and put all current & future civilian nuclear power plants and facilities under site specific IAEA safeguards.
Some opponents of this agreement have argued that India has small Uranium reserve thus letting India purchase nuclear fuel supply for civilian power plants from NSG will somehow help Indian nuclear weapons program by making available greater fraction of indigenous Uranium reserve for military nuclear weapons program.
Let us look at facts to understand merit of this argument.
1. Indian strategic nuclear weapons use approximately 3 Kg Plutonium.
2. India has large un-safeguarded Plutonium stockpile (conservatively estimated to between 3,000 Kg and 6,000Kg), a fraction of that will suffice to make hundreds of nuclear weapons if India choose to exercise the option.
3. Indian PHWR reactors that are outside IAEA safeguard when operated for efficient power generation would have cumulatively required just 5,842 tonnes. India is estimated to have mined about 9,200 tonnes of natural-uranium, indicating that about 55% of the fuel and 8% of its reactor capacity was used in low fuel burn mode, generally associated with operating the reactors in mode optimized to generate weapon grade Plutonium. This corresponds to about 2,400Kg weapon grade Plutonium enough for 800 strategic nuclear weapon.
4. Current Indian reserves of uranium estimated between 77,500 – 94,000 metric tonnes, enough to support 12,000 MWe power generation for 50 yearsIII.
5. Current Indian PHWR reactors that are outside IAEA safeguard annually require 116 tonnes of natural-uranium when operated in a mode optimized for power generation. When operated in a mode optimized to generate weapon-grade Plutonium they require just 747 tonnes of natural-uranium annually, in the process they generate 745 Kg weapon grade Plutonium, which is enough for 248 nuclear weapons per year.
From above one can clearly see that there is no merit in the argument that US-India civilian nuclear agreement will be of any consequence to Indian nuclear weapons programs.
In conclusion the Indo-US agreement on civil nuclear reactors does not help Indian military program:
1. India already has fissile material enough to make more than 800 warheads.
2. Its Fast Breeder Reactors can generate limitless fissile material for weapons or civilian applications.
Date: 02-May-2006 Author: Arun Sharma
5-7 sites identified to set up nuclear parks: Chavan
5-7 sites identified to set up nuclear parks: Chavan
New Delhi, Feb 27 : Government today said it has identified five to seven sites to set up nuclear parks, each with a capacity to house at least six atomic power plants.
"The site selection committee has identified five to seven sites to establish nuclear parks. One or more American parks can come up at these sites," Minister of State in the Prime Minister's Office Prithviraj Chavan said here.
Of the identified sites, one or more may house reactors purchased from the United States, under the Indo-US nuclear deal, he said.
Chavan said the sites have to be cleared by the Cabinet and the proposal could not be discussed at some recent Cabinet meetings as Prime Minister Minister Manmohan Singh is unwell.
The Prime Minister is in-charge of the Department of Atomic Energy.
The Indian nuclear renaissance will see several nuclear parks coming up across the country each having four to six atomic plants, Chavan said.
While Koodankulam in Tamil Nadu is being developed in collaboration with Russia, French company Areva has been allocated Jaitapur in Maharashtra to set up nuclear power plants, he said.
Chavan said government was also exploring possibilities of acquiring Uranium mines in other countries to ensure fuel supply for nuclear reactors in the country.
India to Focus on Developing Thorium-Based Nuclear Reactors
India to Focus on Developing Thorium-Based Nuclear Reactors
Written by Industrial Info Resources
The recent Indo-U.S. nuclear deal has given impetus to India's nuclear power development program. As part of the Eleventh Five-Year Plan (2007-12), state-owned Nuclear Power Corporation India Limited (NPCIL) (Mumbai) has announced the commencement of site and project work on 12 nuclear reactors to be developed indigenously.
This includes eight 700-MW pressurized heavy water reactors (PHWRs), one 300-MW advanced heavy water reactor and three 500-MW fast breeder reactors (FBRs). The eight PHWR projects, part of India's Tenth Five-Year Plan (2002-07), was delayed because of uranium mining constraints. The site study, project and design, commercial and vendor selection, and construction activity will take up to 30 months.
The recent nuclear deal has opened up many opportunities for the country. India has developed a three-stage nuclear development plan. Stage I will consist of the commissioning of natural uranium heavy water moderated and cooled PHWR. Plutonium will be obtained from the spent fuel. The second stage, to be fired by plutonium, will consist of FBRs. This stage will also breed uranium-233 from thorium. The last stage of the plan will develop power reactors from thorium and uranium-233. The nuclear development plan will take forward India's commitment to develop thorium-based reactors and thorium fuel cycle.
The thorium fuel cycle is a nuclear reaction in a thermal or fast reactor between thorium-232 and uranium-233. Thorium is the fertile base and uranium is used as a fissile fuel. Thorium-232 absorbs a neutron to become thorium-233. Then, thorium-233 emits an electron and an anti-neutrino to form protactinium-233. Protactinium-233 then emits an electron and an anti-neutrino to form uranium-233, which is then used as a fuel.
Although global uranium trade is opening up, using thorium is a commercially viable option for India, as it has the one of the largest deposits of thorium in the world. India has 363,000 tons of thorium along its eastern and southern coasts. Uranium deposits in India total about 78,000 tons. Thorium is a naturally available element, exhibiting some radioactive properties. It is considered a safer alternative to uranium as it helps decrease nuclear waste. The most naturally occurring form of thorium is monazite, which contains up to 12 percent thorium oxide. There are known reserves of 12 million tons of monazite in the world.
In 2002, India began to design and develop a prototype fast thorium breed reactor (FTBR). The reactor uses uranium that is discharged from other nuclear reactors along with thorium to form a fertile mix. Plutonium is used as a "seed" to fire the nuclear chain reaction. FTBR technology is among the first to use the concept of thorium breeding.
In a nuclear reaction, when compared to uranium, the consumption of thorium is slow. This reduces nuclear waste by 50 percent. There is also a global concern on the extensive development of uranium-based reactors, as they produce a plutonium component that is used in nuclear weapons. Thorium-based reactors eliminate this process. Thorium can be used in existing reactors with little or no change to the design.
Though NPCIL presently generates only 4,120-MW of power through nuclear reactors, this figure is expected to touch 22,000-MW in the next five years. It has 17 reactors operational presently, with another five under construction. NPCIL is also identifying sites in coastal areas of the country to set up 25 to 30 light water reactors by 2030.
Nuclear News: Dawning of the Age of Thorium, Six Reactors for India and Progress to L
February 04, 2009
Nuclear News: Dawning of the Age of Thorium, Six Reactors for India and Progress to Laser Enrichment
1. Dawning of the age of Thorium?
From Resource Investor: I am personally aware of the fact that, even as I write, major American, Canadian, French and British nuclear engineering companies are forming strategic alliances to seek funding under Hatch-Reid to go forward with the development of thorium-based nuclear power reactors for the production of electricity for civilian use.
The International Herald Tribune for February 3, 2009: analytical news piece called “A model nuclear-power deal?
This details the negotiations and agreement between the USA and the Arab states of the Persian Gulf, such as Dubai and Kuwait. It would give the Emirates the right to buy nuclear power reactor technology from American companies in return for the agreements of the Gulf governments not to ask for or obtain any technology that can be used to make nuclear weapons. As the article points out, a good way to achieve this goal, with no possibility of cheating by either side, is to utilize thorium-based fuel for the reactors. This deal has been announced since the Obama administration took office and therefore we must assume that it is in line with the new President’s policies for reducing greenhouse gas emitting power plant construction and reducing and stopping the proliferation of nuclear weapons. It can be no coincidence that the Hatch-Reid Bill is about to be re-introduced into the new Congress. Clearly, the administration has signaled its support for amending the Atomic Energy Act of 1954 to include funding for research and development of thorium-based fuels, thorium reactors, and thorium reactor waste disposal techniques.
2. A decision on Finland's sixth nuclear plant, Olkiluoto 4, will take until 2012.
A Thorium molten salt reactor is under consideration as one of the candidate reactors. Thorium ElectroNuclear and two other partner firms are applying to get a thorium reactor build. Norway has large thorium reserves.
3. US regulators have received the first part of an application to build a laser-based uranium enrichment plant in North Carolina.
GLE has been preparing a test enrichment loop based on the Silex laser technology since mid-2008, with the intention of demonstrating the commercial feasibility of the technology and advancing the design of the necessary equipment, buildings and processes. GLE said it intends to use its learning from the test loop to make a decision this year on whether to build a full-scale plant, but the early submission of part of the COL indicates a great confidence in the project.
Should GLE go ahead with a full-scale laser enrichment plant, it would be sited alongside GE-Hitachi's headquarters at Wilmington in the US state of North Carolina. The capacity of the plant would be between 3.5 million and 6 million separative work units (SWU). Laser enrichment could be up to ten times more energy efficient than the best alternative enrichment systems.
4. The Indian site of Jaitapur could host up to six of Areva's EPR nuclear power units, after a memorandum of understanding signed today in New Delhi with Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL).
Should six units (each with 1600 MWe) actually be built, Jaitapur would have greater generating capacity than any current nuclear power plant at 9600 MWe, the current leader being Kashiwazaki Kariwa in Japan where eight reactors produce 6898 MWe. Areva said the memorandum also specified that it would provide uranium fuel for all the reactors throughout their operating lives of at least 60 years.
Today's deal covers work towards a minimum of two reactors and remains far removed from an actual contract to build. It is expected that the units would be built in three phases of two units each at the site, which is in the state of Maharastra on India's west coast, about 250 kilometres south of Mumbai.
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