The pressurized heavy water reactor (PHWR) technology was conceived in Canada and has moved to several nations for commercial production of electricity. Currently, 49 power reactors operate with PHWR technology producing nearly 25 GWe. The technology is flexible for adopting different fuel cycle options which include natural uranium, different mixed oxide (MOX) fuel, and thorium. The technology has made substantial improvement in materials, construction, and safety since its inception. PHWRs have demonstrated excellent performance historically. Their safety statistics are excellent. Indian PHWRs also have shown economic competitiveness even in small sizes, thus providing an ideal design for new entrants. While the technology features of PHWRs are available even in textbooks, the objective of this paper is to highlight the historical development and salient features, and innovations for further improvement in operation, safety and economics. Thus, this paper shall serve as a curtain raiser for the special issue “Pressurized Heavy Water Reactors (PHWRs) Safety: Post Fukushima.”

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