Pakistan plans fuel testing facility

05 April 2007

Reports from Pakistan describe official plans to develop "complete technological capability" in nuclear fuel, to eventually qualify indigenous fuels for advanced reactors.

Nuclear power in the country will be expanded from the current capacity of 425 MWe to 8800 MWe as part of the Pakistani government's Energy Security Plan 2030. But Pakistan currently has no large-scale facilities for manufacture of nuclear fuel for existing plants.

Pakistan currently operates the 125 MWe Kanupp pressurized heavy water reactor (PHWR) imported from Canada in 1965 and the 300 MWe Chasnupp 1 pressurized water reactor (PWR) imported from China in 1992. The similar Chasnupp 2 began construction at the end of 2005. A 10 MWt pool research reactor called Parr 1 also operates.

PHWRs are fuelled by natural uranium, which has made them a good first choice for countries beginning nuclear programmes, while PWRs use low-enriched uranium. Pakistan imports fuel for Chasnupp 1 from China. The country has its own small uranium mines, a small uranium enrichment plant and a PHWR fuel fabrication facilty.

The new initiative would see test facilities set up to assure the mechanical, thermal, hydraulic and functional properties of indigenously made fuel. Later would come advanced capabilities for the qualification of fuels for state-of-the-art reactors, the most modern now available being Generation-III, and even future Generation-IV designs.

The government has indicated it will initially provide $21.4 million to the project.

Further information

WNA's Nuclear Power in Pakistan information paper