Sample Materials for CSAT Paper -1 (G.S.) Pre 2013: "Science & Technology: Atomic Research"

Sample Materials From Our Study Notes for CSAT Paper -1 (G.S.) Pre 2013

Subject: Science & Technology
Topic: Atomic Research

Ques. 1 : Critically evaluate the India’s Nuclear energy programme?

Ans. India's nuclear research programme aims to develop and utilise nuclear energy for peaceful purposes such as power generation, applications in agriculture, medical sciences, industry and other areas, India is today globally acknowledged as one of the advanced countries nuclear technology. The country is self-reliant and excels in the expertise covering the complete nuclear cycle from exploration and mining to power generation and from applications of nuclear technology to waste management and other safety issues.

The main objective of India's nuclear energy programme, as defined in the Atomic Energy Act of 1948, is the development, control and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes and development of various nuclear applications. The programme has laid great emphasis on 'self-reliance' and ‘indigenisation from its very beginning'. Apart from being a potentials source of electricity that could satisfy our requirement for next 300 years, nuclear energy research has various other crucial applications important for our socio-economic development as also for our defence requirements.

Although nuclear armament has not been the. thrust area of India's nuclear programme, India did visualise a need to adopt a more comprehensive approach to security - encompassing economic strength, internal cohesion and technological upgradation -in the emerging global scenario. India remains a firm and consistent proponent of general and complete global nuclear disarmament; as against any discriminatory doctrine in this regard. India's policy on disarmament also takes into account changes that have taken. place in the world, especially in the 1990s onwards. The nuclear tests of May 1998 do not dilute India's commitment to the long held objective of nuclear disarmament. This sets the country apart from other nuclear weapon states, which reject global nuclear disarmament proposals because they refuse to visualise their security without nuclear weapons. As a. nuclear weapon state, India is even more conscious of its responsibility in this regard and, as in the past, initiatives in pursuit of global nuclear disarmament continue to be taken by India.

India's nuclear weapon capability is meant only for self-defence and seeks only to ensure that India's security, independence and integrity are not threatened in future. India's nuclear doctrine is based on maintaining a minimum credible deterrence and a no-first-use policy as opposed to nuclear war fighting or warning doctrines. It is, therefore, natural for India to take initiatives that aim to reduce the threat-of break-out of nuclear war and also to take initiatives that promote peaceful and more meaningful applications of nuclear technology.

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Ques. 2 : Comment on the following in not more than 50 words each:

i) Department of Atomic Energy
ii) BARC, Treombay
iii) IGCAR, Kalpakkam
iv) NPC
v) IRE, Mumbai
vi) NFC, Hyderabad
vii) HWB
viii) Atomic Minerals Division
ix) BRIT


i) Department of Atomic Energy (DAE)
The executive agency for all activities pertaining to atomic energy in the country is the DAE, which was setup in 1954. Policies pertaining to the functioning of DAE are laid down by the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) which was set up in 1948. The DAE has always been under the charge of the Prime Minister himself. The activities of DAE are primarily in the area of nuclear power generation, R&D in atomic energy and the applications in industries; mineral sector etc. These activities are carried out by its constituent units, public sector undertakings and by R&D institutions which are given financial assistance by the DAE. DAE has comprehensive capabilities to design, construct, operate and maintain related-fuel cycle facilities, and many such facilities are operational all over the country.

ii) Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, Trombay
This is the premier research centre of the DAE, set up in 1957. It carries out research in areas of reactor engineering, reactor physics, nuclear chemistry, water chemistry, computer technology, nuclear applications etc. It works in close co-operation with the Nuclear Power Corporation in its rapid indigenisation requirements. The research reactors of BARC, Trombay, especially the indigenously built Dhruva, have given the necessary infrastructural base for advances in nuclear science and technology.

iii) Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research, Kalpakkam
This is the other multi-disciplinary nuclear R&D centre, set up in 1971. It is dedicated to R&D related to fast reactor technology and associated fuel cycles, material sciences, radiochemistry, fuel reprocessing and sodium technology. The centre is also engaged in basic research related to material sciences and applied research in the sphere of non-destructive technology, advanced instrumentation and materials.

iv) Nuclear Power Corporation (NPC)
Formerly called Nuclear Power Board, it is responsible for design, construction and operation of nuclear power stations. The NPC has already gained an operating experience of around 100 'reactor-years'. India's safety standards in power-generation and plant operation are in keeping with those recommended by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP). A national network of environmental radiation monitoring stations is being set up which will monitor and help in detecting unusal radiation releases, as part of a global. Environments radiation monitoring network. Five such stations are operational at present, at Mumbai, Tarapore, Kalpakkam, Kolkata and Indore.

v) Indian Rare Earth Limited
Founded in 1950, it is responsible for processing and producing thorium and other radioactive elements found in sands of Kerala and Orissa:

vi) Nuclear Fuel Complex
It fabricates fuel and structural components for all operating power reactors and thorium blankets and structural components for FBTR. In the recent past, NFC developed special alloys for use in the space programme also which was a major milestone in import substitution. NFC along with IREL has succeeded in producing pure zirconia crystal popularly known as American diamonds.

vii) Heavy Water Board
It designs, builds and operates its own heavy water plants which not only meet the country's requirements but have also given us export capability.

viii) Atomic Minerals Division
It is responsible for surveying and prospecting of nuclear mineral resources in the country.

ix) The Board for Radiation and Isotope Technology (BRIT)
It is responsible for keeping pace with the state-of-the-art developments in isotope applications in Industry, research and medicine.

Organisational Set Up

Atomic Energy Commission

Atomic Regulatory Board

Department of Atomic Energy

RD Organisations =PSUs =Industrial Facilities =Aided Insititutions (By DAE)
• Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), Mumbai =Corporation of Board (HWB), mental Research (TIFR),
=• Nuclear Power =• Heavy Water =• Tata Institute of Funda-
India (NPCIL) Mumbai Mumbai
• Indira Gandhi • India Rare Earths • Nuclear Fuel • Saha Institute of Nuclear
Centre for Atomic Ltd. (IRE), Mumbai Complex (NFC), Physics (SINP), Kolkata
Research (IGCAR), Hyderanad
Kalpakkam, (TN) • Uranium • Board of • Institute of Plasma
• Centre for Corporation of Radiation Research, Ahemdabad
Advanced Technology India Ltd. (UCIL), and Isotope and • Tata Memorial Centre,
(CAT), Indore Jaduguda, Technology Mumbai
• Variable Energy Jharkhand (BRIT), Mumbai • Institute of Physics,
Cyclotron Centre • Electronics Bhubneshwar
(VECC), Kolkata Corporation Ltd. • Institute of Mathematical
(EICL) Hyderabad Sciences, Chennai

Ques. 3 : What do you understand by Nuclear energy?

Ans. Energy released during a nuclear reaction in accordance with the mass-energy equation is called nuclear energy. All matter is composed of atoms. Each atom has a nucleus composed of neutrons and protons (except the simplest, single proton nucleus of ordinary hydrogen). Every nucleus of every atom, except hydrogen would fly apart but for the binding energy within the nucleus. It is this binding energy that, when released slowly and under control, produces heat that can power steam-driven electricity generators in nuclear power plants. And it is this binding energy that, when released all at once, produces, the destructive impact in a nuclear bomb. Theoretically, we can obtain nuclear energy from almost any substance but this is not practical because the energy needed, for triggering the released binding energy via breaking the nucleus apart, would be more than the energy released by the process. Thus, practically nuclear energy can be obtained only from some elements which are called fissile or radioactive elements, which undergo radioactivity readily i.e. which are easily broken apart-thereby releasing energy in the form of heat.

Ques. 4 : Discuss in brief the types of nuclear reactions?

Ans. Nuclear energy is produced by two types of nuclear reactions - nuclear fission and nuclear fusion.
Nuclear Fission: It is a nuclear reaction in which a heavy atomic nucleus is split into two approximately equal nuclei, thereby, releasing very large amount of binding energy resulting mainly in the form of heat. Moreover, this split also ejects several neutrons, each of which in turn can strike other atomic nuclei to trigger further splits and cause further releaser of energy. For .example, U-235, an isotope of uranium, has an unstable nucleus which is easily broken apart when hit by a neutron. It splits into two equal sized nuclei - krypton and, barium and releases great deal of energy and neutrons. These neutrons further trigger the fission of other nuclei. It is called nuclear fission chain reaction and is the basis of energy release in nuclear reactors and nuclear bombs. For example, Pu 239 an isotope of plutonium is used in nuclear bomb tests wherein its nucleus splits and releases enormous amount of explosive energy. However, there are problems associated with fission energy. Fission actually involves a series of nuclear changes following the major heat-yielding split. At each step in the series, energy is given off in the form of radioactive particles and rays, some highly dangerous. This radioactive waste must be safety stored and disposed of otherwise it can be lethal to living beings. Another problem is that the nuclear reactor itself becomes radioactive over its useful life of around 30 years; after which it must be dismantled and its parts must be handled like radioactive waste. This is both risky and costly.

Nuclear Fusion, it is a nuclear reaction in which light atomic nuclei fuse together to form a single heavy nucleus, with the release of large quantum of energy. The mass of single nucleus formed is less than the total initial mass of the nuclei as the difference is converted into energy. In fusion, hydrogen isotopes are fused to form helium, with the release of enormous quantities of energy.

Ques. 5 : Briefly discuss the advantages of Fusion energy mechanism over Fission energy?

Ans. Fusion energy Mechanism has many advantages over Fission energy.

i) The principal raw material is an hydrogen isotope deuterium. As hydrogen is a constituent of water which is available in plenty on earth is a renewable/inexhaustible raw material as compared to fissile raw materials like uranium, plutonium, thorium etc.
ii) The end product of fusion reaction is energy and helium which is a harmless and stable gas and is environment friendly. Thus, there is no problem of radioactive fall out that is associated 'with fusion' reaction.
iii) A fusion reactor, by its very nature, cannot explode, and is thus safer than a fission reactor.

Test Your Knowledge

1. Consider the following statements:
  1. The executive agency for all activities pertaining to atomic energy in the country is the Department of Atomic energy which was set up in 1952.
  2. The DAE is under the chairmanship of the Prime Minister.

Which of the above statements is / are correct ?

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both 1 & 2
  4. Neither 1 nor 2
2. Consider the following statements.
  1. Indian Rare Earth Limited was founded in 1950, is responsible for processing and producing thorium and other radioactive elements sounds in rounds of Kerala and Odissa.
  2. Nuclear Fuel Complex along with IREL has succeeded in producing pure Zirconia Crystal popularly known as American diamonds.

Which of the above statements is / are correct.

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both 1 & 2
  4. Neither 1 nor 2

Answer of Question 1: B

Answer of Question 1: C