BARC: Bhabha Atomic Research Centre

What is BARC?

The Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) is India's premier nuclear research facility, headquartered in Trombay, Mumbai, Maharashtra.

Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC)
Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC)

BARC is a multi-disciplinary research centre with extensive infrastructure for advanced research and development covering the entire spectrum of nuclear science, engineering and related areas.

BARC's core mandate is to sustain peaceful applications of nuclear energy, primarily for power generation.

It manages all facets of nuclear power generation, from theoretical design of reactors to, computerized modelling and simulation, risk analysis, development and testing of new reactor fuel materials, etc. It also conducts research in spent fuel processing and safe disposal of nuclear waste. Its other research focus areas are applications for isotopes in industries, medicine, agriculture, etc. BARC operates a number of research reactors across the country.


Key Description of BARC:

Abbreviation: BARC

Motto: Atoms in the service of the Nation

Formation: January 3, 1954

Founder: Homi J. Bhabha

Purpose: Nuclear research

Headquarters: Trombay, Mumbai, Maharashtra

Director: Dr. Ajit Kumar Mohanty

Parent Organisation: Department of Atomic Energy

Budget: ₹3,159 crore (US$440 million) (2015–2016)

Official Website

Formerly called: Atomic Energy Establishment, Trombay


History of BARC:

The Government of India created the Atomic Energy Establishment, Trombay (AEET) with Homi J. Bhabha as the founding director on 3 January 1954.

It was established to consolidate all the research and development activity for nuclear reactors and technology under the Atomic Energy Commission.

All scientists and engineers engaged in the fields of reactor designing and development, instrumentation, metallurgy and material science etc., were transferred with their respective programmes from the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR) to AEET, with TIFR retaining its original focus for fundamental research in the sciences. After Homi Jehangir Bhabha's death in 1966, who is also known as the "Father of Indian Nuclear Programme", the centre was renamed as the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre on 22 January 1967.

The first reactors at BARC and its affiliated power generation centres were imported from the west. India's first power reactors, installed at the Tarapur Atomic Power Station were from the United States.

The primary importance of BARC is as a research centre. The BARC and the Indian government has consistently maintained that the reactors are used for this purpose only: Apsara (1956; named by the then Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru when he likened the blue Cerenkov radiation to the beauty of the Apsaras), CIRUS (1960; the "Canada-India Reactor" with assistance from the US), the now-defunct ZERLINA (1961; Zero Energy Reactor for Lattice Investigations and Neutron Assay), Purnima I (1972), Purnima II (1984), Dhruva (1985), Purnima III (1990), and KAMINI.

The plutonium used in India's 1974 Smiling Buddha nuclear test came from CIRUS.

The 1974 test (and the 1998 tests that followed) gave Indian scientists the technological know-how and confidence not only to develop nuclear fuel for future reactors to be used in power generation and research, but also the capacity to refine the same fuel into weapons-grade fuel to be used in the development of nuclear weapons.

BARC also designed and built India's first Pressurised water reactor at Kalpakkam, a 80MW land based prototype of INS Arihant's nuclear power unit, as well as the Arihant's propulsion reactor.


India And the NPT:

India is not a part of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), citing concerns that it unfairly favors the established nuclear powers, and provides no provision for complete nuclear disarmament.

Indian officials argued that India's refusal to sign the treaty stemmed from its fundamentally discriminatory character; the treaty places restrictions on the non-nuclear weapons states but does little to curb the modernization and expansion of the nuclear arsenals of the nuclear weapons states.

More recently, India and the United States signed an agreement to enhance nuclear cooperation between the two countries, and for India to participate in an international consortium on fusion research, ITER (International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor).