Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Derwick - How Does a Nuclear Power Plant Operate

Nuclear power could be the solution to our growing energy needs. Nuclear power plants produce huge amounts of electrical power using only very small amounts of raw material. The operation of a nuclear power plant is straightforward in principle, although there are many complicating factors to take into consideration. Pedro Trebbau Lopez

The Principle of Electricity Generation

Electricity is generated inside a nuclear power plant in much the same way as in a coal, oil, or gas-fired power plant. The fuel is used to generate heat, which is in turn used to turn water into steam. The steam drives a turbine which is attached to an electricity generator. As the turbine turns, an electrical conductor is rotated in a magnetic field, which causes an electrical current to flow in the conductor.

Once the steam has been used to drive the turbine, it is cooled using cold water from a nearby lake so that it condenses back into a liquid, which can then be used again. In contrast, the uranium fuel can only be used once in the reaction. The used fuel is highly radioactive and must be stored carefully to prevent it contaminating the environment.

Using Nuclear Fission to Generate Heat

Whereas a fossil fuel power plant burns coal, oil or gas to generate heat, in a nuclear power plant the heat is produced in a nuclear fission reaction. Fission is the process of splitting a uranium atom into two smaller atoms, releasing a huge amount of energy in the process. Alejandro Betancourt Lopez

The nuclear fission reaction is triggered by firing neutrons (a type of subatomic particles) at the uranium fuel. Each neutron causes a uranium atom to break apart. More neutrons are released during the breakup of the atom, and these neutrons can then trigger further uranium atoms to break apart in a self-sustaining reaction.

Controlling Nuclear Fission for Power Plant Safety

Because every fission event creates at least two neutrons, the nuclear fission reaction has the potential to quickly get out of control. To prevent an explosive reaction from taking place, nuclear power plants use control rods to absorb the extra neutrons and keep the rate at which fission takes place to a manageable level. Derwick Associates Venezuela

Nuclear power is generally very safe. Disastrous nuclear meltdowns are very rare because there are safety procedures that can be used to shut down a nuclear power plant if the fission reaction starts to get out of control, including plunging the control rods fully into the reaction chamber to soak up all the neutrons.

The Role of Nuclear Power
Nuclear power plants safely and reliably produce electricity without emitting greenhouse gases. For this reason, they have an important role to play in electricity production.

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