Proposing New Initiatives For Pakistan’s Atomic Energy Technologies

Zafar Ullah Koreshi/Rizwana Abbasi

Proposing New Initiatives For Pakistan’s Atomic Energy Technologies
atomic energy

Pakistan’s Atomic Energy

Pakistan’s atomic energy technology base that extends from the front-end fuel cycle technologies to enrichment and fuel fabrication can readily extend into the energy domain by taking an initiative on compact and advanced reactors referred to as the tiny Modular Reactors (SMRs) with power production as low as ~20 MWe. Globally, such new and innovative concepts represent a renaissance in atomic energy with promising market acceptance. This is, therefore, an opportune moment for Pakistan to require the initiative and embark upon a program with handsome economic benefits.

Established in 1956:

Pakistan’s peaceful nuclear program, established in 1956, received its first research reactor, under the “Atoms for Peace” program by the then US President Franklin D. Roosevelt and later in 1969 the Canadian CANDU reactor, the Karachi atomic power Plant (KANUPP-1) was commissioned to supply 137 MWe.

In spite of its technological sophistication in nuclear weapons development, Pakistan’s atomic energy program moved slow and now relies on Chashma I, II and III reactors (300 MWe PWRs each), the vintage KANUPP (137 MWe) and two planned KANUPP II and KANUPP III (PWRs of 1100 MWe capacity each). With a population of 210 million, 21 GW installed capacity, and a “diverse” north-south grid, large parts of the population are still ‘off-grid’ and hence industrial growth is stagnant. The impediments in development, compounded by water scarcity and fears on the longer term caused by India’s construction of dams on Pakistan’s three eastern rivers compels the country to seem for diverse and extensive energy options supported Pakistan’s atomic energy.

International nuclear energy Agency (IAEA)

Currently, there are 447 atomic power reactors operating globally, with a mean installed capacity of 885 MW(e) supplying over 11% of the world’s electricity. This number will increase with the completion of the 52 under-construction reactors to a mean installed capacity of ~1050 MW(e). additionally to those , over 54 new designs are into account at the lower range, up to 300 MW(e), classified as SMRs by the International nuclear energy Agency (IAEA).

Thus, the impetus for developments towards small size, safe and environmentally acceptable high power density systems has attracted the eye of the industry with solutions being presented for market acceptance. Even below the SMR range, considerable work is being administered on very small modular reactors (VSWR) of ~20 MWe capacity. Pakistan’s atomic energy Proposing New Initiatives. These micro-nuclear reactors are nearing design completion also in preparation for market acceptance. One such design is “Evinci” by Westinghouse which is being designed to be attractive for decentralized micro-grids. These vSMRs draw heavily from concepts of earlier space programs and incorporate evolutionary, innovative and passive safety features.

NASA:

The knowledge domain for vSMR’s, including the Evince design, comes from the US and therefore the former USSR space nuclear-powered systems. NASA is present, with national laboratories, completing the “Kilopower Reactor Using Stirling Technology” (KRUSTY) for missions to moon and Mars. Similar work is additionally under progress in Russia, China, and Europe. additionally to space systems, small nuclear systems form the facility base for submarines and surface ships which use smaller more efficient nuclear engines to substitute large volume fuel oils. 

The revived interest in micro-nuclear power reactors for space exploration focuses on kilowatt systems with minimum moving components like pumps and turbines. Space reactor concepts have led to small designs that are likely to be attractive for micro-grids thanks to their small size, mobility, and safe and straightforward operation and maintenance. Pakistan’s atomic energy Proposing New Initiatives. In such designs, there new options on heat removal technologies and power conversion systems are under development. for warmth removal, during a ‘fast’ reactor core, metal coolants like lithium, potassium, and sodium are attractive candidates in two-phase heat pipes for operating without forced convection while for power conversion, options include solid-state thermoelectric generation and therefore the conventional Stirling engine.

Heat Removal 

At higher power levels, better options are the Rankine and Brayton cycles while accounting for size and weight. The operating requirements of both technologies differ vastly in terms of the standard of warmth , costs, efficiency, operation and overall simplicity.Pakistan’s atomic energy Proposing New Initiatives. In such advanced systems, heat removal using lithium in heat pipes is best suited to supply the specified performance for a micro-nuclear reactor of the dimensions of ~ 35 kWe with a uranium fuel inventory of ~149 kg out of which ~104 kg is U-235. the dimensions of such systems is little with the core fitting during a barrel of radius 35 cm and height 40 cm.

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