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Unit for making solid fuel ingredient opened

Special Correspondent

DRDO has given the know-how and Rs 1.80 crores in assistance DRDO has given know-how and Rs 1.80 crores in assistance

CUDDALORE: : A Rs. 6.60-crore unit for manufacture of a vital ingredient of the solid fuel for missiles and rockets has been set up in the Small Industries Promotion Corporation of Tamil Nadu industrial estate here.

As part of the measures to encourage private participation in Defence projects, the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has licensed the Madurai-based Pandian Chemicals Ltd to start the unit to make ammonium perchlorate used as a propellant in missiles and rockets. Besides lending the know-how, the DRDO had also given a financial assistance of Rs 1.80 crores to the company.

M. Natarajan, Scientific Advisor to the Defence Minister, inaugurated the unit on Saturday. The unit would convert the common salt being procured from Tuticorin into sodium perchlorate through electrolysis and by adding ammonium chloride, obtain the fuel, ammonium chlorate, in powder form.

The initial production capacity of 300 tonnes a year could be scaled up to 400 tonnes, depending upon the DRDO requirements. The unit would exclusively execute the DRDO orders for 10 years, getting an assured market.

Mr. Natarajan said it was an honour to inaugurate the unit that boasted of indigenous technology. The unit was a "little advanced pilot plant that would experiment and enrich the quality of propellant." It was not a profit-making venture; yet, the company would get a sense of participation in manufacturing a product that played a strategic role.

Avinash Chander, Director of Advanced Systems Laboratory, Hyderabad, said the Indian Space Research Organisation too had helped in setting up the unit.

The country's missile programme was held back by the international control regime. Hence, it became necessary to tap the scientific and technological potential available in the country and the Cuddalore unit was a step in that direction.

A. Subhananda Rao, Director, High Energy Materials Research Laboratory, Pune, said solid propellant consisted of ammonimum perchlorate, metal powder and hydroxyl terminated poly-butadiene (HTPB).

The unit would meet the major requirements of the DRDO for ammonium perchlorate.

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