Your Guide To How A Nuclear Power Plant Operates

May 13, 2019 by

A power plant is an industrial facility which works to generate electrical power. Electrical power can be created using a lot of resources. Fossil fuels, nuclear power, solar energy, wind energy, wave or hydroelectric energy. A power plant can be set up to use any of these resources and create electrical power. A power plant that uses nuclear energy is termed as a nuclear power plant.

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Source:  https://science.howstuffworks.com/nuclear-power2.htm

Nuclear power is the use of nuclear reactions, which in turn release nuclear energies to generate heat which is then used to create electricity. This process takes place at the nuclear power plant. Let us take a look at the basics of a nuclear power plant

Materials Used At A Nuclear Power Plant

The materials which help create the nuclear reactions are the ones that are generally used at a nuclear power plant. Below are some of the materials used :

Nuclear Fuel

A material that can be burned by nuclear fission can be termed as a nuclear fuel. Some of the common examples are uranium and plutonium.

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Source:  http://en.cgnpc.com.cn/encgn/c100119/lm_rd.shtml

Nuclear Moderators

As the name suggests, the materials used to cool down the nuclear fission to thermal energies are called nuclear moderators. The general examples of nuclear moderators are water and graphite.

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Source:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_power_plant

Nuclear Absorbers

The material used to absorb the nuclear fission, if need be, are termed as nuclear absorbers. Control rods are commonly used as nuclear absorbers.

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Source:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mUasErRXySw

Coolants

These are used to remove the heat generated entirely. These are used to cool things in a nuclear reactor. Commonly used coolants are water, air and carbon dioxide.

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Source:  https://chem.libretexts.org/Courses/Furman_University/CHM101%3A_Chemistry_and_Global_Awareness_(Gordon)/07%3A_Nuclear_Energy/7.3%3A_Nuclear_Reactor_Components

Operations Of A Nuclear Power Plant

A nuclear power plant is a huge industrial facility and its workings cannot be explained in a gist. It takes a lot of tedious and meticulous process to convert nuclear fuels into electrical power. Let us take a look at the operations at a nuclear power plant.

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Source:  https://www.thebalance.com/three-mile-island-nuclear-accident-facts-impact-today-3306337

Nuclear Reaction

The material used for the nuclear reaction is fully loaded into the reactor. This reactor is a concrete dome which is big and strong to prevent in case the uranium explodes. In the reactor, the heat energy is released producing neutrons which in turn split other atoms in a controlled nuclear reaction.

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Source:  https://videohive.net/item/sun-solar-flare-02/21192711

Absorption

Next, we need this heat to be cooled off. This is done with the help of controlled rods. These rods can be used to slow down or speed up the reaction depending upon the requirement. The rods are raised or lowered down into the reactor in line with the chain reaction

Cooling

The heat energy that is produced by the chain reaction is then collected by pumping water into the nuclear reactor. Water flows along continuously linking the reactor with the heat exchanger.

Steam

Inside the heat exchanger, the cooler water mixes up the heated water in a loop and this takes a form of steam. The exchanger keeps the contaminated water contained in one place. The radioactivity is kept away from all other equipment in the plant by keeping it contained in the heat exchanger.

Turbine

This steam is then let into a turbine. It blows into the turbine at high speed. The turbine vanes also move at a very high speed and mix with the incoming steam. The speed of the turbine is very high and generates a lot of raw energy.

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Source:  https://www.ge.com/reports/two-giant-steam-engines-each-named-arabelle-head-for-the-english-countryside/

Electric Generator

This spinning turbine is next connected to an electric generator. The turbine with its high speed makes the electric generator spin too. This spinning of electric generator produces power electricity that flows into the power grid.

Electricity

The electricity generated into the power grid is then connected to be transmitted into consumable areas. It gets transmitted to our homes, offices, shops, factories, hotels and so on.

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Source:  https://awllpaper.com/wallpaper-electric-blue/wallpaper-electric-blue-172447/

Now that we have understood in gist about how the nuclear power plant essentially works, we should also debate on whether it is good or not. There are a large number of nuclear power plants all around the world. Is that a good thing or a bad thing? Let’s take a look:

PROS

High Energy

One of the most basic advantages of the nuclear power plant is the amount of high energy that it generates. The energy is enormous and massive as compared to other resources of materials used to generate electricity

Emission

The emission of carbon into the air is much less in case of a nuclear power plant. When compared to other resources like coal, oil or gas, the carbon emissions are way less for a nuclear power plant.

Fuel Usage

The fuel usage for a nuclear power plant is far less when compared to fossil fuel plant. This means lesser utilization of our depleting resources. This is because fossil fuel plants generate energy by burning them while nuclear power plant smashes the atoms apart.

Reduced Dependence

The dependence on fossil fuel is reduced. This is a much more favorable option for countries who have to import fossil fuel. Nuclear power plant reduces the import of fossil fuel from other countries

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Source:  https://sciencing.com/pros-cons-nuclear-power-plants-4779089.html

CONS

Expensive

With its gigantic advantages, nuclear power plant comes at an equally high cost. To smash the atoms and create effective energy, high ended equipment is required.

Risky

The risk is too high as well. The nuclear power plant needs to be made safe with numerable safety measures. More importantly, all the equipment and valves required, like the XHVAL valve, should be of good quality so that the risk is minimized.

Non-Renewable

The nuclear power plant is not easily renewable as the procedure involves usage of limited reserves of uranium which cannot be renewed.

Nuclear Waste

The waste generated from a nuclear power plant is radioactive. The waste remains dangerously radioactive for a long time. This makes safe disposal difficult.

Misuse Of Nuclear Products

Nuclear energy can be misused to create harmful nuclear products. This can endanger peace in the world if the by-products come into the hands of incorrect people.

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Source:  https://greenliving.lovetoknow.com/Advantages_and_Disadvantages_of_Nuclear_Energy

Conclusion

Nuclear Energy is a clean source of energy that has helped mankind in numerous ways. Many countries are modernizing and breaking their attention to Nuclear power plants. In the future, the eyes are shifting toward thorium based plants as it’s more abundant in nature.  

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