Learn about : kakrapar atomic power plant and its significance, what is criticality? And about Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited

CONTEXT: Kakrapar Atomic Power Plant, Unit-3 (KAPP-3), India’s first 700 MWe (megawatt electric) Pressurized Heavy Water Reactor (PHWR) with innovative features has attained criticality at around 0936 Hrs on 22 July 2020.

A nuclear reactor attains criticality, when every nuclear fission event releases a sufficient number of neutrons to sustain an ongoing series of reactions or a selfsustaining chain reaction.

Nuclear fission is a process in nuclear physics in which the nucleus of an atom splits into two or more smaller nuclei as fission products, and usually some byproduct particles.

Hence, fission is a form of elemental transmutation.

The by-products include free neutrons, photons usually in the form gamma rays, and other nuclear fragments such as beta particles and alpha particles.

Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) has carried out exhaustive safety review of various safety aspects to ensure satisfactory compliances to regulatory requirements and granted permission for First Approach to Criticality of KAPP-3.

KAPP-3. -Advanced safety features like steel lined inner containment, passive decay heat removal system, containment spray system, hydrogen management system, among others.

  • The ‘passive decay heat removal system’ can remove decay heat (released as a result of radioactive decay) from the reactor core without requiring any operator actions.
  • This is on the lines of similar technology adopted for Generation III+ plants to negate the possibility of a Fukushima-type accident that happened in Japan.

Prime Minister, Shri. Narendra Modi has congratulated the achievement of Indian nuclear scientists, in a tweet. He said, “Congratulations to our nuclear scientists for achieving criticality of Kakrapar Atomic Power Plant-3! This indigenously designed 700 MWe KAPP-3 reactor is a shining example of Make in India. And a trailblazer for many such future achievements!”


KAPP-3 is located at Kakrapar Site, Gujarat, where already two 220 MWe PHWRs (KAPS-1 & KAPS-2) are in operation and another 700 MWe PHWR (KAPP-4) is under advanced stage of construction.

  • KAPP-3, country’s first 700 MWe (megawatt electric) unit, and the biggest indigenously developed variant of the Pressurised Heavy Water Reactor (PHWR).
  • Until now, the biggest reactor size of indigenous design was the 540 MWe, two of which have been deployed in Tarapur, Maharashtra.
  • PHWR technology was started in India in the late 1960s with the construction of the first 220 MWe reactor, Rajasthan Atomic Power Station (RAPS-1).
  • Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL) had awarded the reactor-building contract for both KAPP-3 and 4 in 2010.


A PHWR is a nuclear power reactor, commonly using unenriched natural uranium as its fuel, that uses heavy water (deuterium oxide D2O) as its coolant and moderator.


Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) is a Public Sector Enterprise under the administrative control of the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE), Government of India.

The Company was registered as a Public Limited Company under the Companies Act, 1956 in September 1987 with the objectives of operating atomic power plants and implementing atomic power projects for generation of electricity in pursuance of the schemes and programmes of the Government of India under the Atomic Energy Act, 1962.

NPCIL also has equity participation in BHAVINI, another PSU of Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) which implements Fast Breeder Reactors programme in the country.

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