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How nuclear reactors work?

Nuclear reactors
Nuclear reactors are devices built to sustain a controlled nuclear fission chain reaction.
Components:
The main components of nuclear reactors are:
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Nuclear fuel
Reactor vessel
Control Rods
Moderator
Coolant
Containment structure
Other components

Nuclear fuel used in a nuclear reactor is the enriched U-235.The nuclear fuel is
sealed in long, narrow metal tubes called fuel rods. The enriched U-235 ensures that at
least one of the neutrons produced by a fission reaction has a good chance of causing
fission in another U-235 nucleus.
Reactor Vessel is a pressure vessel containing the Nuclear reactor coolant and
reactor core.
Control rods control radioactivity and absorbs neutrons. In order to control the rate
at which fission reaction occurs , control rods of neutron - absorbing material (e.g.
cadmium) are used .The control rods keep the net rate of production of neutrons to the
required level by capturing the necessary proportion of neutrons before they initiate
fission. When the rods are moved upward out of the reactor, the number of neutrons
left to produce fission is increased and vice versa.
Moderator The neutron released by fission normally move very fast .At this high
speed , the chance of a neutron being captured by another U-235 nucleus is very small
, If the neutron is slowed , its chance of capture is much better . In order to slowed
down the fast fission neutrons, A moderator is used.
Coolant removes heat from the reactor core and takes it to the place of its utilization
e.g. steam turbine.
Containment structure or protective shield contains the reaction in at least three
feet of concrete. In a nuclear reactor, many types of harmful radiations are emitted .In
order to prevent these radiations from reaching the persons working near the reactor;
the reactor is enclosed in thick concrete walls.

Other components
The fuel, along with the mechanical structure that holds it in place, forms the reactor
core. Typically, a neutron reflector surrounds the core and serves to return as many of
the neutrons as possible that have leaked out of the core and therefore maximize the
efficiency of their use. Often, the coolant and/or moderator serve as the reflector. The
core and reflector are often housed in a thick steel container called the reactor
pressure vessel. Radiation shielding is provided to reduce the high levels of radiation
produced by the fission process. Numerous instruments are inserted into the core and
support systems to permit the monitoring and control of the reactor, for example the
temperature, pressure, radiation and power levels.
How a nuclear reactor works?
When an atom undergoes fission it splits into smaller atoms, other particles and
releases energy. It turns out that it is possible to harness the energy of this process on
a large enough scale for it to be a viable way of producing energy.
The fundamental point about nuclear energy is that the energy content of 1 gram of
Uranium is equivalent to approximately 3 tonnes of coal. This means that we need to
consume about 3 million times less material with Nuclear Power compared to using
Coal or any other Fossil Fuel. This substantially reduces the volumes of fuel and waste
of nuclear power compared to Fossil Fuels.
The Different Types of Nuclear Reactors
There are are a number of different types of Nuclear Reactors currently in operation
throughout the world. Some of the most common types are described here.
Pressurized Water Reactors
Pressurized Water Reactors (PWR's) are by far the most common type of Nuclear
Reactor deployed to date. Ordinary water is used as both neutron moderators and
coolant. In a PWR the water used as moderator and primary coolant is separate to the
water used to generate steam and to drive a turbine. In order to efficiently convert the
heat produced by the Nuclear Reaction into electricity, the water that moderates the
neutron and cools the fuel elements is contained at pressures 150 times greater than
atmospheric pressure.
Boiling Water Reactors

In a Boiling Water Reactor (BWR), ordinary light water is used as both a moderator and
coolant, like the PWR. However unlike the PWR, in a Boiling Water Reactor there is no
separate secondary steam cycle. The water from the reactor is converted into steam
and used to directly drive the generator turbine. These are the second most commonly
used types of reactors.
High Temperature Gas Cooled Reactors.
High Temperature gas cooled reactors operate at significantly higher temperatures
than PWRs and use a gas as the primary coolant. The nuclear reaction is mostly
moderated by carbon. These reactors can achieve significantly higher efficiencies than
PWRs but the power output per reactor is limited by the less efficient cooling power of
the gas.
Heavy Water Reactors
Heavy Water reactors are similar to PWRs but use water enriched with the deuterium
isotope of Hydrogen as the moderator and coolant. This type of water is called "heavy
water" and makes up about 0.022 parts per million of water found on Earth. The
advantage of using Heavy water as the moderator is that natural, unenriched Uranium
can be used to drive the nuclear reactor.

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