The Dhruva reactor is India's largest nuclear research reactor. Located in the Mumbai (Bombay) suburb of Trombay at the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), it is India's primary generator of weapons-grade plutonium-bearing spent fuel for its nuclear weapons program. Originally named the R-5, this pool-type reactor first went critical on 8 August 1985 after 10 years of construction. However, the unit did not attain full power until 1988. The reactor experienced at least one serious accident when 4MT (four metric tons) of heavy water overflowed from the reactor core in 1985 following vibration problems.
Designed as a larger version of the CIRUS reactor, Dhruva was an Indian designed project built to provide an independent source of weapons-grade plutonium free from safeguards. The Dhruva project cost 950 million rupees. The reactor uses heavy water (deuterium) as a moderator and coolant. Aluminum clad fuel rods containing natural uranium are used to obtain a maximum power output of 100MW. According to conservative estimates, the reactor produces an average of 16-26 kilograms (35-57 lb) of weapons-grade plutonium per year in its spent fuel, while former Indian Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) Chairman P.K. Iyengar said the unit could produce up to 30 kilograms (66 lb) of weapons-grade plutonium each year.
Dhruva, in Indian mythology, is a prince blessed to eternal existence and glory as the Pole Star (Dhruva Nakshatra in Sanskrit) by Lord Vishnu. It can also mean simply the Pole Star or 'ultimate' in Sanskrit.
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