Nuclear reactor is a device, where a controlled nuclear reaction can be initiated and used for different purposes. This device is mainly used for producing electricity. On the picture here you can see a basic scheme of a nuclear fission reactor, that is used in power plants around the world.
The reactor passes the heat produced by controlled nuclear fission to water or another fluid, that is used to put in motion electric turbines, producing electricity. This is simply what happens and this is the way nuclear energy is produced. Below there are a brief explanations of the different parts of the reactor and their functions.
The nuclear reactor consists of several different parts:
- a – cool water source – its main function is to cool the reactor and to prevent overheating.
- b – cooling tower with basin – this device transfers the waste heat to the air. Its size varies from small units to very huge hyperboloid structures that can be up to 180-210 metres in height and 90-100 m in diameter.
- c – condenser – this is where the steam, produced in the heater of the reactor is condensed, after it has set in motion the electric turbine.
- d – steam generator – the heat produced from nuclear fission is passed to water and steam that sets in motion the electric turbines is generated here.
- e – reactor vessel with control rods – this is where the nuclear reaction is happening (fission). There is the radioactive fuel (uranium 238 for example) and here is where the nuclear fission is happening. The control rods are used for slowing, or speeding up (controlling) the nuclear reaction.
- f – turbines – they are used for utilizing the power of the hot steam for spinning the generator.
- g – generator – this is finally where electricity is produced.
- h – transformer – the voltage of the produced electric energy is transformed in to the desired level.
- i – electric lines – connect the electric network with the nuclear power plant.
How Does a Nuclear Reactor Work – Video
In the following video you can see how exactly a nuclear reactor works. It is explained in details and every part of the proces is covered. Whatch it to fully understan the proces of producin nuclear energy.
Nuclear Fission and Nuclear Synthesis
Learn about about how exactly energy is produced by nuclear fission and nuclear synthesis. This is one more advanced video where these two processes are explained in details. What happens when the nuclear of uranium atom is divided and how this can spur a chain reaction. How this is used in power plants, where this energy is caught and used for peaceful purposes? Why some atoms are unstable and what causes them to break apart. Find the answers of all of these questions here.
Also you will learn about the opposite process – nuclear synthesis. While nuclear fission have been used for years for producing energy, synthesis is difficult to be put under restraint and used for that purpose. I the video are explained the main problems, stopping humanity of using nuclear synthesis here on Earth. See an interesting idea about how our Moon could help with mastering the process. You will learn the basics of the process of joining the hydrogen atoms’ nucleuses and how energy is produced this way – the essence of nuclear synthesis
He3 (Helium 3) can be used for producing energy through nuclear synthesis on Earth. But there is a little problem with this, the most suitable place, where we could obtain Helium 3 is The Moon… But that’s fine, because only 25 tons of He3 would be enough for producing the energy consumed by USA for one year. That would many times exeed the cost of obtaining it, no matter that it could be several hundreds of millions US dollars.
What are Nuclear Power Plants
Many people associate term “nuclear” only with threats and dangers, but this is really absolutely not like that.
There are many nuclear power plants around the world, and each of them generates a huge amount of cheap electricity. Of course, nuclear power has its disadvantages, but there are much more advantages. In order to form an opinion about need of nuclear power to the world, it is necessary to begin with understanding how nuclear power plants work.
Nuclear power plant is nuclear facility consisting of a nuclear reactor and a number of necessary systems, the purpose of which is to produce electricity. However, how does plant generate energy itself? Let’s start with the basics of the whole idea and talk about nuclear fuel. Surely you found in cartoons glowing green rods often. The real nuclear fuel, uranium and plutonium, of course, do not shine. At least visually. Now let’s find what happens to the uranium after it is loaded into the reactor.
To understand the principle of a nuclear power plant work it is necessary to remember school lessons about the structure of any atom. The core of every atom consists of neutrons and protons. Powerful energy holds bond between these particles. The main purpose of a nuclear reactor is to break this bond, thereby freeing an incredibly powerful energy.
There are several areas of nuclear energy, different types of reactors, nuclear plants and forms of nuclear fuel. The main thing is that as a result of decay reactions thermal energy is released. The reactor consists of a fuel assembly, which in turn consists of a plurality of tubes. Uranium nuclear begin to decay, causing a chain reactions that releases heat. With the help of heat spreading system, this heat is transferred to the primary contour – ordinary water. The water that reached a temperature of 322 ° C is supplied to the steam generator and from there through a complex system of heat transfer, heat transferred to the secondary contour – another circle of water. It is sufficiently cooled down and then returned to the reactor and the process goes to the new range. Due to the pressure difference in the contours second level water is converted to steam with temperature of 274 ° C. The steam generator supplies steam to the turbine, where, by several special cylinders, steam turn the turbine and rotates the generator. And that, in turn, is already creating a final product – electricity. The steam condenses and returns to the initial position. Thus, apart from nuclear fuel plant requires a large amount of water for the operation of the turbine, and cooling the reactor.
Thus, the nuclear plant works on a controlled process of decay, which is covered by the constant chain reaction. Nuclear fuel produces a huge amount of energy and it is spending in extremely small quantities. To understand how much more economical is to work on nuclear fuel just compare – 1 gram of uranium due to the decay provides the same amount of energy as 2 tons of fuel equivalent.
The unbelievable power of the reactor, of course, requires vigilant monitoring and security. Station management is concentrated in the unit control. A lot of different sensors and counters are under constant inspection by a group of professional engineers. Thus, they monitor the state of the process of decay and the subsequent movement of energy. The territory of the nuclear power plant and adjacent land are divided into sections by type of security. The reactor itself is provided with reflectors and different layers of protective covers to minimize the negative impact on the environment.
As mentioned above, nuclear power has many advantages. However, the terrible consequences that are possible in case of an accident, played a bad role for nuclear power plant reputation. Chernobyl and “Fukushima” nuclear plant s accident have led to the fact that many nuclear power countries frozen the construction of stations, while others close new projects at all. However, we must remember that absolutely any invention may not be safe for non-compliance with safety regulations. Should we stop using vehicles if there is a risk of an accident? In addition, a lot of plants are already operating in the world for many years and they provide a large number of low-cost production of electricity, also they are environmentally friendly and reduce fuel waste state.
So what are nuclear power plants – the most dangerous or most efficient method of generating electricity? Modern nuclear plant is equipped with a mass of safety devices, which record any emerging problems. Plus, the work on the station is allowed only for highly qualified personnel. The mistakes that led to disaster in the “Fukushima”, or the Chernobyl nuclear power plant are already considered. Also it is important to count that the damage from other types of plants are also fairly big. And it is not only the danger of man-made disasters (like floods in the accident at the hydro-power plant), but also constant atmospheric emissions, as well as the need for a large amount of fuel that is produced in not the most ecological methods.