The APSARA nuclear reactor complex at Trombay

Indian nuclear scientists have upgraded APSARA, the country’s and Asia’s first research reactor. Originally, the reactor was supposed to be demolished after it completed 53 years of successful operation in 2009

New Delhi — India has put into operation an upgraded research reactor at the Trombay campus of the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre that was originally planned to be dismantled. The newly upgraded research reactor is completely indigenous and it will increase indigenous production of radio-isotopes for medical application by about 50 percent, according to India's Department of Atomic Energy (DAE).

"The reactor, made indigenously, uses plate type dispersion fuel elements made of Low Enriched Uranium (LEU). By virtue of higher neutron flux, this reactor will increase indigenous production or radio-isotopes for medical application by about fifty percent and would also be extensively used for research in nuclear physics, material science and radiation shielding," said the DAE in a statement issued Tuesday.

APSARA was the first research reactor in Asia to become operational at the same campus of the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre in August 1956. After providing more than five decades of dedicated service to researchers, the reactor was shut down in 2009. In the original reactor, the maximum thermal neutron flux level was about 1 × 1013 n/cm2/s at designed power (1 MW) whereas in the upgraded version, flux is 6.1 × 1013 n/cm2/s of 2 MW power.

Asia’s Oldest Research Reactor ‘APSARA’

"Nearly sixty-two years after APSARA came into existence, a swimming pool type research reactor 'APSARA-upgraded' of higher capacity was born at Trombay on 10th September. This development has re-emphasised the capability of Indian scientists and engineers to build, complex facilities for health care, science education and research," the DAE statement added. 

The upgraded reactor will mainly be used to provide enhanced facilities for beam tube research, neutron activation analysis, neutron radiography, neutron detector development and testing, and shielding experiments.