You are on page 1of 5

Nuclear power plant

A nuclear power plant or nuclear power station is a thermal power station in which the heat
source is a nuclear reactor. As is typical in all conventional thermal power stations the heat is used
to generate steam which drives a steam turbine connected to an electric generator which
produces electricity. As of 23 April 2014, the IAEA report there are 435 nuclear power reactors in
operation operating in 31 countries. Nuclear power stations are usually considered to be base
load stations, since fuel is a small part of the cost of production. Their operations and maintenance
(O&M) and fuel costs are, along with hydropower stations, at the low end of the spectrum and make
them suitable as base-load power suppliers. The cost of spent fuel management, however, is
somewhat uncertain.

Nuclear reactors
The nuclear reactor is the heart of the station. In its central part, the reactor core's heat is
generated by controlled nuclear fission. With this heat, a coolant is heated as it is pumped
through the reactor and thereby removes the energy from the reactor. Heat from nuclear
fission is used to raise steam, which runs through turbines, which in turn powers the electrical
generators.
Nuclear reactors usually rely on uranium to fuel the chain reaction. Uranium is a very heavy
metal that is abundant on Earth and is found in sea water as well as most rocks. Naturally
occurring uranium is found in two different isotopes: uranium-238 (U-238), accounting for
99.3% and uranium-235 (U-235) accounting for about 0.7%. Isotopes are atoms of the same
element with a different number of neutrons. Thus, U-238 has 146 neutrons and U-235 has
143 neutrons. Different isotopes have different behaviors. For instance, U-235 is fissile which
means that it is easily split and gives off a lot of energy making it ideal for nuclear energy. On
the other hand, U-238 does not have that property despite it being the same element.
Different isotopes also have different half-lives. A half-life is the amount of time it takes for half
of a sample of a radioactive element to decay. U-238 has a longer half-life than U-235, so it
takes longer to decay over time. This also means that U-238 is less radioactive than U-235
Since nuclear fission creates radioactivity, the reactor core is surrounded by a protective
shield. This containment absorbs radiation and prevents radioactive material from being
released into the environment. In addition, many reactors are equipped with a dome of
concrete to protect the reactor against both internal casualties and external impacts.

Steam turbine
The purpose of the steam turbine is to convert the heat contained in steam into mechanical
energy. The engine house with the steam turbine is usually structurally separated from the
main reactor building. It is so aligned to prevent debris from the destruction of a turbine in
operation from flying towards the reactor.

The chambers on a heat exchanger are connected to the intermediate cooling circuit. Emergency power supply Most nuclear stations require two distinct sources of offsite power feeding station service transformers that are sufficiently separated in the stations's switchyard and can receive power from multiple transmission lines. The valves are designed so that they can derive all of the supplied flow rates with little increase in pressure. it may undergo nuclear fission. To detect a leak in the steam generator and thus the passage of radioactive water at an early stage. In contrast. The heavy nucleus splits into two or more lighter nuclei.In the case of a pressurized water reactor. Typically the hot coolant is used as a heat source for a boiler. (the fission products). A portion of these neutrons . Nuclear power stations are equipped with emergency power. and the pressurized steam from that drives one or more steam turbine driven electrical generators. where the thermal energy can be harnessed to produce electricity or to do other useful work. Safety valves In the event of an emergency. so the turbine is kept as part of the radiologically controlled area of the nuclear power station. boiling water reactors pass radioactive water through the steam turbine. releasing kinetic energy. Even with the redundancy of two power sources total loss of offsite power is still possible. In the case of the BWR. Generator The generator converts kinetic energy supplied by the turbine into electrical energy. an activity meter is mounted to track the outlet steam of the steam generator. gamma radiation. and free neutrons. Feedwater pump The water level in the steam generator and nuclear reactor is controlled using the feedwater system. safety valves can be used to prevent pipes from bursting or the reactor from exploding. The feedwater pump has the task of taking the water from the condensate system. Cooling system A cooling system removes heat from the reactor core and transports it to another area of the station. increasing the pressure and forcing it into either the steam generators (in the case of a pressurized water reactor) or directly into the reactor (for boiling water reactors). In addition in some nuclear stations the turbine generator can power the station's house loads while the station is online via station service transformers which tap power from the generator output bus bars before they reach the step-up transformer (these stations also have station service transformers that receive offsite power directly from the switch yard). Fission When a large fissile atomic nucleus such as uranium-235 or plutonium-239 absorbs a neutron. the steam turbine is separated from the nuclear system. Low-pole AC synchronous generators of high rated power are used. the steam is directed into the suppression chamber and condenses there.

which turns to steam and then drives a steam turbine. Heat is produced by nuclear fission in the reactor core.may later be absorbed by other fissile atoms and trigger further fission events. Japan and Canada) and are one of three types of light water reactor (LWR). completing the loop. which specializes in the design and construction of this type of reactor. PWRs. and so on. there is no significant boiling allowed . neutron poisons and neutron moderators can change the portion of neutrons that will go on to cause more fission. solid graphite (20% of reactors) and heavy water (5% of reactors). pressure in the primary coolant loop prevents the water from boiling within the reactor. In comparison. The BWR was developed by the Idaho National Laboratory and General Electric (GE) in the mid-1950s. producing steam. the reactor core heats water. In a PWR. Russia's VVER reactors are similar to U.S. In a PWR. This is known as a nuclear chain reaction. also a type of light water nuclear reactor. The boiling water reactor (BWR) uses demineralized water as a coolant and neutron moderator. The heated water then flows to a steam generator where it transfers its thermal energy to a secondary system where steam is generated and flows to turbines which. The cooling water is maintained at about 75 atm (7. 1000–1100 psi) so that it boils in the core at about 285 °C (550 °F). All LWRs use ordinary water as both coolant and neutron moderator. Nuclear power reactor types Pressurized water reactors (PWRs) constitute the large majority of the world's nuclear power plants (notable exceptions being the United Kingdom. PWRs were originally designed to serve as nuclear marine propulsion for nuclear submarines and were used in the original design of the second commercial power plant at Shipping port Atomic Power Station. and this causes the cooling water to boil.6 MPa. after which it is cooled in a condenser and converted back to liquid water. The main difference between a BWR and PWR is that in a BWR. The main present manufacturer is GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy. thereactor core heats water. To control such a nuclear chain reaction. Nuclear reactors generally have automatic and manual systems to shut the fission reaction down if monitoring detects unsafe conditions. in turn. The boiling water reactor (BWR) is a type of light water nuclear reactor used for the generation of electrical power. which turns to steam and drives the turbine. the other types being boiling water reactors (BWRs) and supercritical water reactors (SCWRs). PWRs currently operating in the United States are considered Generation II reactors. spin an electric generator. which does not boil.8% of the world's reactors). Some experimental types of reactor have used beryllium. [3] Commonly-used moderators include regular (light) water (in 74. This water is then returned to the reactor core. In contrast to a boiling water reactor. This hot water then exchanges heat with a lower pressure water system. and hydrocarbons have been suggested as another possibility. which release more neutrons. The steam is directly used to drive a turbine. the primary coolant (water) is pumped under high pressure to the reactor core where it is heated by the energy generated by the fission of atoms. It is the second most common type of electricity-generating nuclear reactor after the pressurized water reactor (PWR). France operates many PWRs to generate the bulk of its electricity.

Typically.000. The different "generations" of nuclear Technology A generation II reactor is a design classification for a nuclear reactor. and refers to the class of commercial reactors built up to the end of the 1990s.. describing four 'generations'. and Dresden. In general. and VVER. one core damage accident per every 10. and might come online in the 2030s. the modernization includes improved safety systems and a 60-year design life. reactors had been granted life extension licenses to 60 years. efficiency. This date was set as the period over which loans taken out for the plant would be paid off. and a second life-extension to 80 years may also be economic in many cases. Fukushima Daiichi's three destroyed reactors are Mark I Boiling water reactors (BWR) designed by General Electric. The designation generation II+ reactor is sometimes used for modernized generation II designs built post-2000. They are motivated by a variety of goals including improved safety. Generation IV reactors (Gen IV) are a set of nuclear reactor designs currently being researched for commercial applications by the Generation IV International Forum. AGR. unit 2 at the Watts Bar Nuclear Generating Station is likely to be the last generation II reactor to come online. . Magnox/UNGG. which refer to the early prototype of power reactors.000 to 10. A generation III reactor is a development of generation II nuclear reactor designs incorporating evolutionary improvements in design developed during the lifetime of the generation II reactor designs. BWR.000 reactor years). in competition with more expensive generation III reactor designs. with Technology readiness levels varying between the level requiring a demonstration. The nomenclature for reactor designs. superior thermal efficiency. Prototypical generation II reactors include the PWR. Generation IV designs are still in development.in a pressurized water reactor (PWR) because of the high pressure maintained in its primary loop— approximately 158 atm (16 MPa. 2300 psi). The first Generation III reactor to begin operation was Kashiwazaki 6 (an ABWR) in 1996.S. such as Shipping port. The core damage frequency of the reactor was estimated to be between 10 −4 and 10−7 (i. CANDU. Generation II reactor designs generally had an original design life of 30 or 40 years. many generation II reactor are being life-extended to 50 or 60 years. However. By 2013 about 75% of still operating U.e. Fermi 1. was proposed by the US Department of Energy when it introduced the concept of generation IV reactors. such as the ChineseCPR-1000. These are contrasted to generation I reactors. and cost. very few third generation reactors have been built in developed nations. to economical competitive implementation. passive nuclear safety systems and standard design for reduced maintenance and capital costs. Due to the lack of reactor construction in the Western world. These include improved fuel technology. In 2015. sustainability.

This creates a self-sustaining chain reaction that is controlled in a nuclear reactor. . creating two daughter nuclei and two or three more neutrons. they split. Nuclear fuel Nuclear fuel is a substance that is used in nuclear power stations to produce heat to power turbines.Most of these designs are generally not expected to be available for commercial construction before 2030–40. or uncontrolled in a nuclear weapon. Nuclear fuel has the highest energy density of all practical fuel sources. plutonium-238 and some other elements are used to produce small amounts of nuclear power by radioactive decay in radioisotope thermoelectric generators and other types of atomic batteries. The processes involved in mining. Generation V reactors refer to reactors that are purely theoretical and are therefore not yet considered feasible in the short term. purifying. Presently the majority of reactors in operation around the world are considered second generation reactor systems. These neutrons then go on to split more nuclei. Not all types of nuclear fuels create power from nuclear fission. such as uranium-235 or plutonium-239. using. and there are only a dozen or so Generation III reactors in operation (2014). refining. and disposing of nuclear fuel are collectively known as the nuclear fuel cycle. Heat is created when nuclear fuel undergoes nuclear fission Most nuclear fuels contain heavy fissile elements that are capable of nuclear fission. When the unstable nuclei of these atoms are hit by a slow-moving neutron. as the vast majority of the first-generation systems were retired some time ago. resulting in limited R&D funding.