Explained: The significance of Kakrapar-3

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News: Prime minister has congratulated India’s nuclear scientists after the third unit of the Kakrapar Atomic Power Project(KAPP-3) achieved its first criticality — a term that signifies the initiation of a controlled but sustained nuclear fission reaction.

Facts:

  • Kakrapar-3 Atomic Power Plant: It is a nuclear power station located in Gujarat.
    • It is the country’s first 700 MWe (megawatt electric) unit and the biggest indigenously developed variant of the Pressurised Heavy Water Reactor (PHWR).

Additional Facts:

  • Pressurized Heavy Water Reactor (PHWR): It is a nuclear reactor, which uses natural uranium as its fuel and heavy water (deuterium oxide D2O) as its coolant and neutron moderator.
  • Nuclear Fission: It is a process in which the nucleus of an atom splits into two or more smaller nuclei and usually some byproduct particles.
    • When the nucleus splits, the kinetic energy of the fission fragments is transferred to other atoms in the fuel as heat energy, which is eventually used to produce steam to drive the turbines.