Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), a constituent unit of Department of Atomic Energy, is working on the research and development of the Advanced Heavy Water Reactor (AHWR). It is a thorium fuel based vertical pressure tube type, heavy water moderated and boiling light water cooled reactor. The 300 MWe capacity AHWR designed by BARC is intended to serve as a technology demonstrator for a range of technologies for Thorium utilisation as well as for several advanced safety features that have been incorporated. With this objective, several innovative features of the design are currently being validated through large scale engineering experiments. The current status is that design of all important nuclear systems of AHWR has been completed and various associated confirmatory R&D studies, detailed engineering of AHWR, various works related to obtaining the necessary site selection approvals and associated statutory/regulatory clearances are being taken up.
AHWR being a technology demonstration reactor will provide impetus for development of technologies for the third stage of India’s Nuclear Power Programme. It will provide experience on use of Thorium fuel on a large and industrial scale. In addition, the research programme which is underway for development of advanced safety systems will also provide benefits for post Fukushima related improvements for other operating / under-construction reactors.