Nuclear Power Plant Details: Function of a Nuclear Power Plant

What is a Nuclear Power Plant?

Whereas a large number of electrical energy is produced by using nuclear fuel which is called nuclear power plant. It means that a large quantity of electrical energy is produced by converting nuclear energy or nuclear fuel which is called a nuclear power plant. The nuclear power plant operating principle is almost steam or thermal power plant. However, most of the developed countries are using and making power plants due to the greater advantages of nuclear power fuel. The nuclear power plant’s operating principle is almost the same as that of thermal power plants.

The nuclear power plant function gives the idea of how to generate electricity, how nuclear power plants work, etc. Nuclear fuel is widely used in nuclear power generation stations to generate electrical energy because of its low running cost, longer plant life, and reliable electricity supply.

There are heavy elements used in a nuclear power plant like Uranium (U 235) or Thorium (Th232). It is noted that the Uranium or Thorium is subjected to the modern nuclear fission reaction in a special apparatus which is called a nuclear reactor.

What is the Function of a Nuclear Power Plant?

A small amount of nuclear fuel is used to produce more power as compared to some other forms of electrical energy. In the power plant, more electrical power is produced by burning 1 kg of uranium. If you compare coal power plants and nuclear power plants, then you will be clear about energy generation. If you burn 1 kg of Uranium then a large amount of energy is generated as compared to the 4500 tons of high-grade coal combustion.

Atoms are built like tiny solar systems. The nucleus is at the center of the atom and the electron always surrounds the nucleus. The nucleus is made up of protons and neutrons, they are very densely packed together. The lightest element is a proton of hydrogen, and the heaviest natural element, Uranium contains 92 protons.

Whenever neutrons split then a collision occurs with uranium atoms high heat is produced in nuclear power plants. This split emits neutrons from uranium which in turn collide with other atoms, causing a chain reaction. This is called a chain reaction. This chain reaction is controlled by “control rods” that absorb neutrons.

In the core of nuclear reactors, in nuclear power generation stations, nuclear energy is emitted from the fission of uranium atoms that heats water to about 520 degrees Fahrenheit and generates steam. This steam is then used to rotate the turbines. Mention that turbines and generators are connected. When this steam hits the turbine hard, the turbine and the generator rotate together at a certain speed and generate electricity. There are 4 types of reactions that occur that produce atomic energy.

  • Nuclear fission
  • Nuclear fusion  
  • Nuclear Decay
  • Nuclear Transmutation

If we generate electrical energy by using nuclear fuel then our per-unit cost will be very low, but nuclear fuel is very costly and may have a chance to explode.

What are the Advantages of Nuclear Energy for Power Plants?

Everything has merit and demerit. We know well nuclear fuel is highly responsible for generating large amounts of electricity. But there are some disadvantages and advantages. Now we are referring to some advantages of nuclear power plants:

  • A low amount of nuclear fuel is required to produce a large number of electrical energy. Therefore fuel transportation cost is minimized.
  • atomic power plants require a small generating space to generate bulk energy as compared to some other electrical generating stations.
  • The running cost is low to generate more electrical energy
  • It can be placed near the load center because it does not require a large quantity of water
  • This power plant can ensure a reliable, and continuous electrical power supply   

What are the Disadvantages of Nuclear Energy for Power Plants?

. Everything has merits and demerits nuclear power plants have some disadvantages these are given below

  • Nuclear fuel is more expensive than some other fuel
  • Construction costs are very high
  • The capital cost of the atomic power plant is very high compared to the thermal, hydro, and diesel power plant
  • Nuclear plant handling is risky due to the Uranium or nuclear fuel
  • Radioactive disposal is very difficult and may cause the biggest radioactive disposal
  • The maintenance cost is high

What is a Nuclear Reactor?

The nuclear reactor is important equipment in the nuclear power plant which is used to subject nuclear fuel. Nuclear fuel is widely used to generate electrical energy because of its low running cost, longer plant life, and reliable electricity supply. There are heavy elements used in a nuclear power plant like (U 235 or Th232).

The nuclear reactor is used to control the chain reactions which start once and then fission is done. If the chain reaction of the atomic power plant is not controlled the whole nuclear plant will be an explosion due to the nuclear energy release.

What is the Construction and Working of a Nuclear Reactor?

The construction of a nuclear reactor is pretty complex due to the control of the chain reactions. A nuclear reactor of an electrical power plant consists of a cylindrical pressure vessel and houses nuclear fuel (Uranium) roads, control roads, and moderator roads.

The atomic fuel roads constitute the nuclear fission reaction material and release a large amount of atomic energy when bombarded with slow-moving neutrons. The nuclear moderator consists of graphite roads that enclose the nuclear fuel roads. The nuclear moderator shows down the neutrons before they bombard the nuclear fuel roads.

The control road consists of cadmium and is inserted into the nuclear reactor. Cadmium absorbs neutrons and it is a very strong neutron absorber and thus regulates the supply of neutrons for nuclear fission. When the control roads are pushed in deep enough then the control road absorbs most of the nuclear fission neutrons.

Hence some neutrons of available for chain reaction which therefore stops this way chain reaction is increased. The heat is produced in the nuclear reactor and this heat is removed by the coolant (coolant is a sodium metal). It is noted that the nuclear power plant operating principle is not difficult but harmful to the disposal of radioactive substances.     

What is a Heat Exchanger?

The heat exchanger is used to exchange the heat. The coolant is a device or circulating pump which is made of sodium metal. The coolant releases heat to the heat exchanger which is utilized in increasing the steam after releasing the heat the coolant is again fed to the reactor.

What is a Chain Reaction?

The chain reaction is an important thing for the nuclear power plant. Nuclear fission is done by bombarding Uranium235 or Th232 with slow-moving neutrons. Neutrons split the Uranium nuclei with the release of a large amount of nuclear energy and emit neutrons (that is called fission neutrons).

What is Nuclear Power Plant

These fission neutrons cause the next fission reaction. If this process occurs continuously then a huge amount of heat will be released continue within a very short time and it can cause a greater explosion. This nuclear reaction is called an explosive chain reaction. The nuclear reactor is widely used in nuclear power plants to control this chain reaction.

How to Select a Site for a Nuclear Power Plant?

Site selection for the nuclear power plant is an important thing. There are some instructions for selecting nuclear power plant locations such as

Availability of water

Water is one of the essential elements for the atomic power plant because water is required for cooling purposes and creates steam. For this reason thermal power plant, the power plant is placed near the river so that available water can be used for the power plant.

Disposal of Radioactive waste 

The waste is produced by the nuclear fission reaction in the nuclear power plant. The radioactive must be disposed of sufficiently and successfully to avoid environmental pollution and health hazards. The wasted nuclear fuel should be buried or disposed of in the sea

Distance from the Thickly Populated Areas

Nuclear power plants are very horrible and risky nuclear fuel can destroy a zone if an explosion occurs. For this reason, these power plants are always placed far away from the populated area. However, more safety or protection systems are used for the atomic power plant.

Nuclear Fuel Transportation Facilities

A Transportation facility is another important part because a power plant needs more components or types of equipment to construct the power plant. Another thing is such kinds of power plants require more nuclear fuel, for this reason, good transportation facilities are a must for power plants.  

What is a Steam Turbine?

 The steam turbine is a device that is used to convert some other forms of energy into mechanical energy. The alternator is coupled with a steam turbine when the turbine rotates then the alternator also rotates and the alternator converts the mechanical energy of the turbine into electrical energy.

In nuclear power, plant steam is generated in the heat exchanger and this steam is sent to the steam turbine through the valve after completing a cycle the steam is exhausted to the condenser. The condensers condense the steam and send it again to the heat exchanger through the feedwater pump and the heat exchanger also heats and exchanges the steam to the turbine again this process is going on continuously to generate electrical energy. 

What is Nuclear Fission and Fusion Reaction?

fission vs fusion reaction is a major concern because both nuclear fission and fusion reactions are nuclear reactions, and both generate severe energy. The fission reaction is the splitting, and the fusion reaction is the accumulating. Both nuclear reactions can produce a large amount of energy. For this reason, people are using fission reactions to generate electrical energy.

When the nucleus of an atom splits into two or more smaller and lighter nuclei and produces a large amount of energy it is called a nuclear fission reaction. The nuclear fission process releases extra neutrons that can split another and additional atoms and a chain reaction occurs and releases huge nuclear energy. A nuclear fission reaction is used to generate modern electrical energy.

The nuclear fusion reaction is one of the most dangerous nuclear reactions between two or more atomic nuclei and these are combined to form one or more subatomic particles and different atomic nuclei. It means that two or more atomic particles are combined and release a large number of atomic energy. The nuclear fusion reaction is used to make the atomic bomb.

There are some reasons to become more popular nuclear power plants. We know that natural energy (coal, oil, gas) is depleting rapidly. For this reason, people are looking for a renewable energy source to generate more electrical energy. In this case, nuclear power plant plays an important to generate more electricity.

A small amount of nuclear fuel can generate bulk electricity than some other forms of energy sources (water, coal, oil, etc.). One statistic shows that 1 kg of uranium can produce as much energy but 4500 tons of high-grade coal cannot produce as much energy as nuclear power. To generate more electricity people are trying to make nuclear power plants generate more clean electrical energy.

Does Nuclear Energy Renewable?

No, Nuclear is not renewable energy. Indeed nuclear power is not renewable energy but nuclear fuel is available in nature. They produce heavy energy compared to coal, oil, gas, and some other natural fuels. We can use nuclear fuel to generate electricity for a long time compared to some other natural energy sources.

Are Nuclear Power Plants Safe?

Nuclear energy is one of the most familiar energy sources in the world and is sometimes considered a renewable energy source. We know well that nuclear fuel (Uranium, Thorium, and others) is very dangerous. If any mistake happens then it may contain a very severe situation. Uranium is being used for many purposes like generating electricity, but don’t worry about it.

It is because nowadays technology has been updated and people are taking more steps to control the chain reaction if an explosion occurs. A large number of safety and security process is adopted in the near power plants that make power plants secure. The reactor is used to control the chain reaction and also uses some other safety factors. On the other hand, The nuclear energy institute or IAEA assists member states in enforcing international safety standards to strengthen the safety of nuclear power plants.

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