Bhabha Atomic Research Centre
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Bhabha Atomic Research Centre
India's premier research and development facility in nuclear sciences and engineering, scientists of the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) gave the country a strategic edge by developing the nuclear bomb. They have developed variants of nuclear fuels to meet the needs of the country's nuclear power plants as well as strategic requirements for its nuclear arsenal. BARC was instituted as the Atomic Energy Establishment, Trombay (AEET), with Homi Jehangir Bhabha, who conceived India's nuclear programme, as its first director. The primary task was to consolidate all research and development efforts for nuclear reactors and technology under the Atomic Energy Commission. AEET was renamed BARC in 1967. The first nuclear test reactors at BARC and the first power reactors at the Tarapur atomic power station were imported from the United States.
BARC has five test reactors. The facilities include research reactors for research and radioisotope production, plants for generating uranium metal and nuclear fuels, fuel reprocessing, waste immobilisation and seismic stations. Of all the research reactors at the centre, Dhruva represents the most significant engineering achievement. The high neutron flux reactor was designed, built and commissioned entirely by Indian engineers. It uses natural uranium as fuel, and heavy water as moderator and coolant. Dhruva is useful in investigations related to power reactor technology and production of radioisotopes required for special applications. The 100 MW reactor, though commissioned in 1985, initially experienced problems that delayed plutonium production for several years.
The plutonium nuclear fuel used in India's nuclear tests in 1974 and 1998 came from BARC's reactors. The effort gave Indian scientists the technological knowhow and confidence to not only develop nuclear fuel for future reactors but also the capacity to refine it into weapons-grade fuel for developing nuclear weapons. BARC has also designed and built India's first pressurised water reactor, which was commissioned at Kalpakkam near Chennai, as well as the power unit and propulsion reactor for INS Arihant, the first indigenous nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine commissioned in 2016.
With expertise in advanced reactor technologies, BARC is focused on developing newer technologies for generating nuclear power. At present, about 5,780 MW, or 3.5 per cent of the country's power generation, is by nuclear energy. Substantial research has been done on technologies for using thorium in the nuclear fuel cycle and developing an Advanced Heavy Water Reactor, a technology demonstrator reactor of 300 MW to be located at Tarapur, as well as for use of thorium-based fuel on a large scale for generating commercial nuclear power, which is part of India's three-stage nuclear power programme.
Bulletproof jackets/ 2019
NEW DELHI: Deployed along the sensitive borders with Pakistan and Naxal-infested areas, paramilitary forces will soon get next-generation bulletproof jackets based on a Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC)-developed technology.
The jacket, which is lighter than those already available in the market, will provide 360-degree protection to personnel of central armed police forces like CRPF, BSF, CISF, ITBP and SSB.
The technology of bulletproof jacket called ‘Bhabha Kavach’, named after the father of the Indian nuclear programme Homi J Bhabha, was developed at BARC’s Trombay centre after the Union home ministry made a request for such a jacket in 2017.
The BARC-patented jacket technology was then transferred to defence PSU Mishra Dhatu Nigam Limited (MIDHANI) last year for limited production of jackets for sample testing.
A source in BARC told TOI, “The jacket is made up of hard boron carbide ceramics that is hot-pressed with carbon nano-tubes and composite polymer. Boron carbide is used by BARC in control rods to absorb neutrons and control the fission rate in nuclear reactors. The material is so tough that it can provide level 3+ shield from assault rifles like Ak-47.”
Colonel Ashwani Kumar (retd), DGM and head of the armoury department of MIDHANI, told TOI, “The jacket with 360 degree full protection shielding front, back and sides weighs around 9.5kg whereas the one with just front protection weighs around 6.8 kg in comparison to 17kg jackets of similar specifications already available in the market.” He said, “Till now, two sets of 14 jackets each have been produced for tests. Bhabha Kavach has already cleared over 20 tests and can shield from bullets fired from AK-47s (7.62 mm hard steel bullets), INSAS (5.56mm) and self-loading rifles (SLRs).”
On the final test, Col Kumar said, “Recently, CRPF made a request that the jacket should also be according to BIS 2019 specifications. Therefore, we have made some changes in fresh set of jackets and are in the process of giving them to the CRPF for the final test. We hope the jacket will clear this test as well.”
He said MIDHANI will “mass-produce and deliver 3,000-5000 jackets in a year to the paramilitary forces once we get the orders.” The cost of Bhabha Kavach is approximately Rs 60,000,which is much cheaper than other jackets of similar strength that are priced over Rs 1.5 lakh. Nearly 400 paramilitary personnel had been killed in action between 2015 and 2017, according to the home ministry. Bharat Kavach will certainly help reduce fatalities in future.