It is not where you start but it is where you finish that matters, It is not where you start but how high you aim that matters. When life gives you lemons make lemonade is a proverbial phrase and a hard beginning maketh a good ending, all have been so true in the case of Mr R.Natarajan (75 T) an alumnus of Annamalai University and now The Director, Reprocessing Group and Project Director, Fast Reactor Fuel Cycle Facility, Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research ( IGCAR), Kalpakkam, India.
Born in a middle class joint family in Chidambaram which is their native place the family found it very difficult to make two ends meet. RN was a very timid, nervous, introverted, had a huge amount of inferiority complex and always scared of talking to a group of people until when he was about 25 years old !!. He was the eldest of the 4 sons, saw the family in an impoverished state made it a point to study well and get the family into better pastures. His father started as a server in our Annamalai University engineering mess and later ran a small hotel in Chidambaram which incidentally happens to be their native place. He was a very bright student, a gold medallist from Pachaiappas high school in Chidambaram where he did his SSLC, a gold medallist from Annamalai University where he did his PUC, a gold medallist from Annamalai University where he did his chemical engineering (70 - 75 T) a second ranker amongst the chemical engineers in the BARC training school, Mumbai (Bhaba Atomic Research Centre) in 1975-1976 when he was a trainee. His uncle was a strict disciplinarian when they were in the joint family at Chidambaram and when once Ramachandran (75 T) asked RN to go to a night show in Lena theatre when they were in their first year his uncle said emphatically not to waste time on movies. Ever since that rebuke RN did not go to even a single movie until he went to BARC, Mumbai. Once he joined BARC he compensated by going to movies every week end !! One year after joining BARC he got married.
Joining BARC in 1975 at Mumbai he was one of the 150 - 200 students taken as a trainee and once after the training got over after 1 year he got posted in Indira Gandhi centre for Atomic Research (IGCAR), Kalpakkam, a premier atomic research centre of India under the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE). The centre is engaged in broad based multidisciplinary programme of Scientific research and advanced engineering directed towards development of Fast Breeder Reactor Technology. RN began his professional career at Kalpakkam as a Scientific officer in the Reprocessing group. His diligent and dedicated work made him get elevated into the various grades starting from Grade C when he joined as a Scientific officer SO - C in 1976 to SO/ D in 1979 to SO/ E in 1984 to SO/ F in 1989 to SO/ G in 1994 to SO/ H in 1999. After serving in the various grades as Scientific officer he got promoted as "Outstanding Scientist" in the year 2006 and got elevated as a "Distinguished Scientist" which he is today at the age of 60. His services have been extended by 2 years after his retirement for his valuable and progressive performance .
Initially RN was involved in the development of equipment and systems for fast reactor fuel reprocessing. The process flow sheet and the processes to address the challenges related to recovery and purification of plutonium and uranium in the fuel discharged from the reactor. He has setup the nonradioactive experimental setups for validating the designs. He played a key role in establishing the reprocessing facility for the recovery of the uranium-233 isotope for separation from irradiated thorium in 1987. The uranium-233 recovered was successfully separated in pure form and used as fuel in the reactor KAMINI in Kalpakkam. This facility is primarily being used for neutron radiography of FBTR (Fast Breeder Test Reactor) fuel after irradiation to inspect the fuel pin integrity. This facility is also used for qualifying the