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

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

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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

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

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

Which of the above statements is / are correct.

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


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Answer of Question 1: B

Answer of Question 1: C

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