Heavy Water

Heavy Water Board (HWB), a constituent unit under Department of Atomic Energy, is primarily responsible for production of Heavy Water (D2O) which is used as a ‘moderator’ and ‘Coolant’ in the nuclear power as well as research reactors. HWB is successfully operating six Heavy Water Plants in the country. HWB has mastered the complex production technology using two chemical exchange processes viz. (H2S-H2O) bithermal process and NH3-H2 monothermal process. India is perhaps the largest manufacturer of heavy water in the world as of today and perhaps the only country which has mastered both these state-of-the-art processes to meet the heavy water requirements of the Indian nuclear power reactors. The plants based on Ammonia-Hydrogen (NH3-H2) exchange process are linked to the nitrogenous fertilizer plants for synthesis gas feed. A pilot plant, for alternate technology, of Water Ammonia (H2O-NH3) exchange, which will make the ammonia based plants independent of fertilizer plants, was successfully commissioned at Baroda, Gujarat and scaled up version is nearly ready. Indigenously developed hydrogen sulphide as well as ammonia based plants have shown excellent performance in the last year. With well defined safety policy, all Heavy Water Plants have had an excellent safety records.

The main objective of HWB was to become self sufficient in production of Heavy Water, but it has also exported 126 metric tonnes of heavy water to South Korea in three consignments and the recent one during the year 2002. The Board is now proud of announcing its capability to supply heavy water of any specification as per demand from anywhere in the world !

Production of Solvent Di-2-Ethyl Hexyl Phosphoric Acid (D2EHPA) has been successfully started at Heavy Water Plant, Talcher, Orissa. The process is indigenously developed by Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) and is converted into industrial scale process/technology by HWB. Now, after achieving the product of desired specifications, Heavy Water Board is glad to offer the product to industries outside D.A.E. as well.

Besides the mainstream job of heavy water production, Board has opened other avenues for research on other uses of heavy water and energy conservation. It has also started offering value added services to other chemical process industry.

Today, having made its presence felt on the World Wide Web, HWB would like to go back in to the history of HWB and feels that it is very much appropriate to utilise this podium for thanking all those predecessors and present who shaped the destiny of HWB.



The research in Heavy Water production was initiated by the Chemical Engineering division of Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) in the 60s and was continued by the Heavy Water Division of the Centre where a Pilot Plant was operated for studying the H2S-H20 exchange process. While these studies were in progress, a Heavy Water Plant at Nangal in Punjab was set up and commissioned in August, 1962.

To have a share of at least 10% of the national power demand by 2000 A.D., Department of Atomic Energy embarked on an ambitious programme of producing nuclear power of 10,000 MWe which required setting up a number of heavy water plants. This was also the time when the need for a separate organisation to oversee the planning and setting up of Heavy Water Plants was strongly felt. Accordingly an organisation known as the Heavy Water Projects was set up on May 1, 1969. The unit was headed by Shri S. Fareeduddin, eminent chemical engineer and Padmashree of 1967 for his outstanding contribution in the front end of nuclear fuel cycle. This was later renamed as Heavy Water Board with effect from February 17, 1989. Almost the entire group headed by Shri P.G. Deshpande of Heavy Water section BARC and Shri K.S. Bimbhat of HWB Nangal was transferred to Heavy Water Project in early 1969 where formed the core groups for H2S-H2O and NH3-H2 process respectively.

Heavy Water Plants based on Ammonia-Hydrogen exchange process were set up at Baroda and Tuticorin.

First plant based on Hydrogen Sulphide-water exchange process developed indigenously was set up at Rawatbhata near Kota, Rajasthan.

Heavy Water Board
Vikram Sarabhai Bhavan, Anushakti Nagar, Mumbai – 400 094.
Tel : 91 – 022 – 2556 3240 / 2548 6090
Fax : 91 – 022 – 2556 3360 / 2556 3243
Email : webmaster@mum.hwbdae.org

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