If India can develop itself at all levels, it can develop majorly in the nuclear section too. Such a development becomes commendable if the project is led by a Bengali.
Dr. Shantanu Bhowmik along with his team has developed a lighter weight high performance thermoplastic which has been made using carbon nano fibre. This is an eco friendly container which has the capacity to store nuclear waste for 500 years. This report has been published in the Journal of Nuclear Materials, Journal of Nuclear Science and Technology and International Journal for Nuclear Energy, Science and Technology, Technology and International Journal for Nuclear Energy Science and Technology.
Presently, generation of electricity in India mainly depends on thermal power (70 %) and the rest are dependent on hydro, solar, wind and nuclear power. By 2040, it is presumed that there will be severe shortages of coal and consequently 70 % of the thermal power needs to be compensated through the use of non-conventional powers such as solar, wind as well as nuclear. It needs to be emphasised that electricity along with nuclear power may rise up to 20% in the next 15 to 20 years. The major concern for nuclear power is the radioactive waste that is generated from the nuclear fuel. Therefore, eco-friendly technology is required in order to know how to store nuclear waste until and unless they are zero radioactive. It can become zero radioactive, but that will take 300 years at least and therefore, the major challenge now is to develop lighter weight eco-friendly containers that can store nuclear waste for 300 to 500 years.
Dr. Shantanu Bhowmik is leading this project and his team comprises of Dr. Ajeesh. G and Dr. Sivakumar. V . Together, they have developed lighter weight high performance thermoplastic – made of carbon nano fibre – composite eco friendly containers indigenously that can store nuclear waste for 500 years. This composite container offers exceptional radiation, thermal and chemical resistant properties. These composites will have significant application in areas pertaining to nuclear waste storage, radiation shielding application hospitals, radiation resistant army bunkers and deep space application.
Presently, nuclear wastes are stored in multi layered canister made of lead, steel and concrete. Though lead offers exceptional radiation resistance, it makes the container heavy and also it makes the storage site hazardous due to lead poisoning over the course of time. Hence they focused on indigenously developing polymeric nano composites as a potential replacement for lead in long term nuclear waste disposal. The polymeric nano composites have been subjected to high radiation dosage of 5000 kGy and highly aggressive chemical and thermal environments.The use of polymeric composites in place of lead reduces the weight of the containers used for nuclear waste storage by 90%. The prototype of the containers has been developed and has been satisfactorily tested for high dosage of radiation and thermo-chemical environments. The prototypes of the containers have been submitted to BARC, Mumbai.
Service temperature of this high performance composites is 340 0C. Density of this high performance thermoplastic composite is merely 1.4 gm/cm3, which is half of aluminium, which is 2.8 gm/cm3 and 1/6th of steel, which is 7.8 gm /cm3 and consequently specific strength, is significantly higher than aluminium and steel. Therefore, by replacing lead this composite will not only save the weight but will also be non hazardous to the environment.
These high performance thermoplastic-carbon fiber composites show high resistivity under fire, aggressive chemical environments such as acidic and alkaline environment and resistivity under high energy radiation. These properties of high temperature thermoplastic – carbon nano fiber composites opens door for various avenues pertaining to high strength, high radiation resistance, high chemical and thermal durability application.