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India's Nuclear Program and Pu-240 UPSC NOTE


  • India's nuclear program is entering a stage focused on plutonium fission using a Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor (PFBR).

  • The Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor is a 500 MWe sodium-cooled, fast breeder reactor that is being constructed at Kokkilamedu, near Kalpakkam, in Tamil Nadu state

  • Plutonium-240 (Pu-240) is a common byproduct in nuclear reactors and impacts reactor design and nuclear material management.

Pu-240 Fission:

  • When Pu-239 captures a neutron, it can become Pu-240 instead of undergoing fission.

  • Pu-240 fission releases neutrons (prompt fission neutron spectrum, PFNS) whose properties are crucial for reactor design.

  • This is the second-ever measurement of PFNS from Pu-240 fission with high-energy neutrons (>0.85 MeV).

Key Findings:

  • Significant differences were observed between predicted and measured PFNS, highlighting the need for improved models.

  • This information is valuable for reactor design, nuclear medicine, and nuclear security.

  • Example: PFBR performance and safety depend on understanding Pu-240 behavior.

Plutonium Isotopes and Weapons:

  • Pu-239 is the fissile isotope used in nuclear weapons.

  • Pu-240 is a contaminant in weapons-grade plutonium due to its spontaneous fission and lower fissile efficiency.

  • Reactor-grade plutonium has a higher Pu-240 content (>19%).

The Experiment:

  • Researchers at Los Alamos National Science Centre (LANSCE) conducted the experiment.

  • They used high-energy protons to generate neutrons that induced fission in a small Pu-240 sample.

  • Detectors measured the energies of neutrons and other fission products.

Nuclear Data Libraries:

  • Nuclear data libraries like ENDF, JEFF-3.3, and JENDL-5.0 are used in various nuclear applications.

  • This research provides valuable insights into Pu-240 fission and highlights the need for improved nuclear data libraries for accurate nuclear predictions.



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Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam: India's Nuclear Program and Pu-240 UPSC NOTE
India's Nuclear Program and Pu-240 UPSC NOTE
Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam
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