Saturday, December 19, 2009
Exclusive: ATV's 20 Percent Criticality Certification Completed, Reactor To Begin In A Year !
Twenty percent of the safety and criticality certification of the country's first ever indigenous nuclear submarine, INS Arihant, has taken place, of the 100 odd systems which need to be certified by nuclear agencies before the propulsion system of the submarine begins functioning. Complete certification of all systems will take more than a year. The tests are being carried out at the Vishakhapatnam-based Ship Building Center.
Sources have confirmed to People's Post that the safety aspect of all the systems of the submarine are being tested in harbour before the reactor is switched on, so as to avoid any mishap, which is the normal practice worldwide.This safety certification would be given by the Russian OKBM, BARC (Bhabha Atomic Research Center) and naval agencies dealing with nuclear technology. Chief of Naval Staff, Admiral Nirmal Verma, said earlier this month that INS Arihant would be operational in two years, which implies that the reactor of the submarine would be put to test before she sails out to sea for sea trials.
Systems like cooling, safety, turbines, gear box, criticality of the fission material in the reactor, functioning of the compartments under radiation pressure will all be tested. Flushing, a phenomenon of cleaning any foreign particle which might obstruct the fission of the reactor, is being carried out, an officer told People's Post.
The reactor of the 'indigenous' INS Arihant, bought from the Russian OKBM through Rubin, located in the sixth compartment of the 8-compartment hull of the nuclear submarine, will get started once the clearance comes, said an officer, adding that before that nothing could be done, and the real trials would begin once the reactor begins, but all safety aspects have to be kept in mind. The reactor controlled by the CRDM--Controlled Red Drive Mechanism, has got neutrons seperated from the fissionable material by cadmium rods, which are removed when the reactor is to be started, and thus the reactor or the heart of the submarine begins, thereby beginning the electricity, and all other operations of the submarine. Vice Admiral B Kannan, heading the project, has admitted that the submarine is 40 percent indigenous while Russian help has been taken for the remaining 60 percent.
All those working around the submarine are supposed to wear dose recording meters,. to record how much radiation has gone into the body and if it is not within permissible limits, the personnel will be removed from the site.
There are other gadgets also to be worn at all time by those inside the sub.
The submarine has lead, concrete pipes inside to control radiation. Also out of the alpha, beta and gamma radiation, the most dangerous are gamma radiations, explained a Naval engineer. Out of the eight compartments in the ATV, only the 6th is which requires utmost care, While one by one each of the compartments get ready to activate thereby putting the ATV in harbour action, the crew working in different sections on teh submarine, will be put at risk, once the nucleus of the submarine begins..
Originally called Advanced Technology Vehicle (ATV), the submarine was launched for harbour acceptance trials on July 26, 2009, Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh, and only after all systems are tested and certified and the reactor put through safety tests, will the sea trials begin, which might take more than a year. The project Director General is retired Vice Admiral DSP Varma. The project, falling under the Official Secrets Act (OSA), has suffered from a record delay -- it has run for over 35 years and has consumed more than at least Rs 5,500 crore.
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