The production of Zirconium sponge, used in nuclear power reactors got a vital boost on Friday when the Zirconium complex was inaugurated at Pazhayakayal in Thoothukudi district. The critical facility was inaugurated by Anil Kakodkar, Chairman of Atomic Energy Commission (AEC), who is also Secretary of Department of Atomic Energy (DAE). Though originally conceived as a combination of Zirconium and Titanium sponge plants, the Titanium sponge plant was later on shifted to Kerala.
Calling the new plant ‘a milestone for the DAE’, Kakodkar pointed out, “Titanium sponge is mainly used in space department and as there is an acute need for it, the plant was shifted to Kerala where it is taking shape”.
However, it is facilitated to expand the production capacity to increase it to 1,000 tonne of Zirconium oxide. The complex assumes significance, as it is only the second of its kind in India, the first being the NFC at Hyderabad.
“India is one among the few countries to produce Zirconium sponge and the export potential is also immense”, Kakodkar said.
He added that this would further strengthen the atomic energy programme.The Rs 300 crore project, spread over an area of 1,240 acres, has state-of-the-art material handling and automation systems to carry out various intricate processes. Provisions were also made to construct townships for accommodating the employees of the Zirconium complex.
Srikumar Banerjee, Director of BARC who is also the Chairmandesignate of AEC, S A Bharadwaj, Chairman, NFC board, R N Jeyaraj, CE – NFC, A L N Rao, Chairman and Chief Executive of Heavy Water Board and G Kalyanakrishnan, Project Director of Zirconium complex participated.