Radiation Technologies and Applications: Nuclear Technology

• India is a large producer of radioisotopes. The radioisotopes are produced in the research reactors at Trombay, accelerator at Kolkata and various nuclear power plants. BARC, BRIT, CAT and VECC are the organizations of DAE which are engaged in the development of radiation technologies and their applications in the areas of health, agriculture, industry and research.

• DAE is working in close co-operation with other organizations of the Government of India to widen the reach of these technologies for the benefit of the common man. Remarkable progress was achieved in applications of Radioisotopes and Radiation Technology in the areas of nuclear agriculture, food preservation and industry.

Research Reactors:
• The research reactors APSARA, CIRUS and DHRUVA at Trombay are utilized for basic and applied research, isotope production, material testing and training for human resource development.

• During the report period, APSARA and DHRUVA reactors operated satisfactorily and were extensively used for basic and applied research, radioisotope production, material testing and operator training. After refurbishing, CIRUS went into operation at 20 MWt. The work on the 20 MWt light water cooled, heavy water reflected low enriched uranium fuelled pool type research reactor made progress.

Radioisotopes Production:
• At Trombay, 72 TBq of activity of which Molybdenum-99 and Iodine-131 constitute the bulk was processed and supplied through BRIT to different end users. Radionuclides such as Phosphorus-32, Samaraium-153, Mercury-203, Holmium-166, Bromine-82, and Gold-198 were regularly processed and supplied. Iodine-125 was produced by irradiating natural Xe gas for further preparation of Iodine-125 based radio-pharmaceuticals and sources.

Nuclear Agriculture:
• The nuclear agriculture programme of BARC covers development of high yielding crop seeds using nuclear techniques, fertilizer and pesticide related studies, radiation processing of food items and other areas.

• Recently, two varieties of groundnut namely TG-37A and TPG-41 developed by BARC were notified for commercial cultivation. So far, a total of 24 varieties of high yielding crops were developed, released and notified for commercial cultivation by Government of India.

• For the year of report, the share of Trombay groundnut varieties in national breeder seed was 28% and that of black gram was 40%. Shelf stable and microbiologically safe meat products developed by gamma radiation were undergoing evaluation at Defence Food Research Laboratory. DAE has set up an interface with Ministry of Agriculture to ensure that technologies developed by the DAE organizations are widely deployed.

KRUSHAK (Krushi Utpadan Sanrakshan Kendra) Lasalgaon, district Nashik, Maharashtra.

Preservation of Food and Hygienization:

• Preservation of food by radiation processing involves controlled application of energy of ionizing radiation such as gamma rays, X-rays and accelerated electrons to agricultural commodities and food products.
• KRUSHAK (Krushi Utpadan Sanrakshan Kendra), a technology demonstration unit of BARC, set up for low dose applications of radiation for food preservation became operational at Lasalgaon near Nashik. The plant radiation processed onion, pulses, rawa and turmeric.
• Radiation Processing Plant, Vashi operating since January 2000, performed very well with an enlarged scope of processing of products.
• The major thrust given to the area of setting up of new radiation processing plants for medical, food related and allied products has shown very encouraging results in the recent times and about eight private parties signed the MoU with BRIT for setting up new plants. The first of these (M/s. Organic Green Foods Ltd., Kolkata) is expected to be operational shortly.
• BRIT also developed an install-and-operate type irradiator for radiation processing of food items. The plant was undergoing evaluation tests.
• DAE is working with the Ministry of Health for notifying items for radiation processing for approval of addtional items and other related issues.

Nuclear & Biotechnological Tools:
• At Trombay, tissue culture and recombinant DNA technology (transgenic plants) were employed for plant improvement. Important contributions were also made in the micropropagation of banana, pineapple, Acacia Victoriae and other economically useful plants.
• Several pesticides were extensively evaluated for their degradation in the environment using labelled compounds.

Water Desalination:
• As a part of health care programme, BARC’s 1800 m3/day Reverse Osmosis (RO) Desalination Plant coupled with Nuclear Power Plant at Kalpakkam is doing extremely well. The construction of the adjoining desalination plant based on Multi-Stage Flash (MSF) evaporation process made progress.
• A 30 m3/day desalination unit based on low temperature evaporation (LTE) process was integrated with CIRUS research reactor to demonstrate sea water desalination using waste heat from the research reactor.
• BARC built a 30 m3/day RO plant in Satlana Village of Jodhpur District for producing drinking water from bore well brackish water source. The technology for online domestic water purifier based on ultrafiltration polysulfone membrane for producing bacteria free safe drinking water was transferred to eight parties, out of which two have already launched their products in the market.

Health Care:
• Radioisotopes and their formulations find wide applications in diagnosis, therapy and healthcare. BARC supplies reactor produced radioisotopes to BRIT which processes them and produces various products for use in healthcare and industry.
• BRIT produces and supplies a large number of radioisotope products including radiopharmaceuticals, immunoassay kits, technetium-99m generators, radiochemicals, labeled compounds, labeled nucleotides and luminous compounds.
• During the report period, BRIT supplied 13,700 consignments of radio-pharmaceutical products, 41,400 vials of cold kits of formulations to various nuclear medicine centres and more than 10,000 kits of Radio-Immuno-Assay (RIA) and Immuno-Radio-Metric-Assay (IRMA) to about 300 immunoassay laboratories.
• Blood Irradiator units were installed at the Regional Centres in Bangalore and Delhi. BRIT synthesized carbon-14 labelled di-methyl isosorbide for the first time and supplied to a pharmaceutical firm.
• A method for the preparation of potassium 32P-phosphonate was developed, procedure standardized and the product was supplied to Central Water Resources Development Institute, Calicut.
• JONAKI laboratory at Hyderabad continued synthesis and supply of phosphorous-32 and phosphorous-33 labelled nucleotides to research institutions.
• BRIT expects to achieve production and supply of about 42,000 consignments of various types of radioisotopes, equipment and allied products, valued at about Rs 23.50 crore (as against Rs 21.67 crore, previous year) during 2003-2004.
• Iodine-125 based miniature brachy therapy source developed by BARC was tried for the first time for treatment of eye cancer at Sankara Netralaya, Chennai. This brachy therapy source was dedicated to the nation by the Hon’ble President of India, Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam on October 10, 2003.
• The technology for preparation of single step Radiation Processed (Co-60 source) sterile Hydrogel for treatment of burn injuries was handed over to M/s. ABS Medicare Pvt. Ltd. and the product Hi-ZEL was received extremely well in the market.
• To provide a low cost alternative teletherapy unit for the expensive teletherapy unit being imported, the development of cobalt-60 Teletherapy Machine was completed at BARC. The machine was under installation at the Advanced Centre for Treatement, Research and Education in Cancer (ACTREC), Navi Mumbai for evaluation. The machine is much cheaper than the imported one of similar class.
• The Medical Cyclotron with Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scanning facility set up at Radiation Medicine Centre of BARC, last year, continued to produce F-18 labelled FDG molecules for diagnosis of cancer as well as cardiac disorders.
• A digital medical imaging system based on a Charge Coupled Device (CCD) was developed for the first time in the country along with a variety of image processing software.
• In-vivo nuclear imaging of patients was regularly carried out at the Regional Radiation Medicine Centre, Kolkata. Around 1500 patients underwent imaging studies and around 2500 patients underwent hormone estimations during the report period. Augmentation of the the existing facilities of the radioimmunoassay laboratory continued.

Sterilization of Medical Products:
• Radiation sterilization is a highly effective technology for sterilization of medical products. BRIT’s ISOMED plant at Trombay, has been operating for over three decades, providing radiation processing service of medical products to pharmaceutical industry. The plant continued to offer gamma sterilization services to nearly 1600 customers spread all over the country. About 15,000 cubic metres of different types of products were sterilized during the year.

Industrial Applications of Radioisotopes:

• Radiation technology covers a range of industrial applications including radiography, gamma scanning of process equipment, use of tracers to study sediment transport at ports and harbours, flow measurements, pigging of buried pipelines, water hydrology, water resource management and many more.
• As a part of continued development in application of radioisotopes and radiation technology in industrial sector, gamma scanning technology continued to be used for troubleshooting and process optimization in a number of process industries in the country. Heavy Water Board utilized this technology for troubleshooting of one of their 4.5 metre diameter hot towers at Manuguru, Andhra Pradesh.
• Radiation processing services, consultancy and facilitation services on setting up gamma irradiation plants by private agencies, design and fabrication of radiation technology equipment are the main industrial and engineering objectives of BRIT.
• BRIT provided radiation sources for industrial applications, industrial irradiators, and research institutions. Radiation sources of total activity of about 850 kCi (kilo Curie)were fabricated, processed and supplied for various uses. An order for export of Cobalt-60 will be executed soon.
• About 600 kCi of cobalt-60 activity was processed at the Cobalt-60 processing facility (RAPPCOF), Kota, Rajasthan.

Industrial Accelerators:
• Electron Beam accelerators are a source of high energy ionizing radiation for industrial radiation processing. The DAE organisations contributing to these fields are BARC and CAT.
• Work on the setting up of 10 MeV/10 kW and 3 MeV/30kW accelerators by BARC showed good progress.
• A 750 kV, 20 kW DC electron accelerator designed and built at CAT was in use to develop various types of processes relating to radiation processing involving electron beams. The processes studied include surface irradiation of potatoes to prevent sprouting, disinfestations of seeds, de-polymerisation of paper pulp sheets, curing of coatings on wood and paints for value addition.

Industrial Applications of Lasers:
• CAT has been pursuing the programme for development of lasers for industrial and medical applications.
• Three industrial Nd:YAG lasers made at CAT were supplied to other DAE units. Two of these lasers were in use for decanning of irradiated fuel bundles in hot cells in BARC. Indigenously developed high power continuous wave carbon-dioxide (CW CO2) laser was utilized at CAT for profile cutting of steel sheets for Indus-2 and DC accelerator magnets.
• A 90W diode pumped solid state laser was developed at CAT for material processing applications. 16W laser power in green was obtained by frequency doubling of a Q-switched Nd:YAG diode pumped laser. Another important development was the design, building and commisioning of a Table Top Terawatt Nd:glass laser system. This will be used for studying laser-plasma interaction at ultra high intensities.

Laser Technology Development:
• CAT also developed and designed a fibre optic distributed temperature sensor for use in multipoint temperature monitoring of systems. Various types of large size non-linear crystals (such as KDP, DKDP) were grown for various applications. Large size triglycine sulphate crystals were grown for fabricating pyro-electric laser energy meters.
• Single crystals of lead-zinc niobate, capable of producing ultra high piezo-strain were also successfully grown. CAT developed a PLZT based almost-hysteresis-free actuator which can give a displacement of 3.5 mm on application of 400 volts.
• A new technique for transport, acceleration and sorting of microscopic objects using laser light was developed. CAT also demonstrated controlled, continuous rotation of intracellular objects using optical tweezers.
• An experimental study of soft x-ray emission from laser irradiated Au-Cu mix-Z-targets of different atomic compositions was carried out at the centre. In collaboration with Nuclear Science Centre, Delhi and Panjab University, Chandigarh, CAT studied the effect of heavy ion irradiation on cobalt-60 thin films grown on silicon wafer and float glass substrates using Raman spectroscopy.



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