Nuclear Power Technology

The Virtual Nuclear TouristA comprehensive introductory educational site about all forms of nuclear power.
Uranium Information CentreAustralian Uranium Information Centre to increase public understanding of uranium mining and nuclear electricity generation.
How Nuclear Power WorksNuclear power plants provide about 17 percent of the world's electricity. Some countries depend more on nuclear power for electricity than others. In France, for instance, about 75 percent of the electricity is generated from nuclear power, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency. In the United States, nuclear power supplies about 15 percent of the electricity overall, but some states get more power from nuclear plants than others. There are more than 400 nuclear power plants around the world, with more than 100 in the United States. Have you ever wondered how a nuclear power plant works or how safe nuclear power is? In this article, we will examine how a nuclear reactor and a power plant work. We'll explain nuclear fission and give you a view inside a nuclear reactor.
Nuclear FAQFrequently Asked Questions About Nuclear Energy
Nuclear Questions and AnswersUniversity of Missouri-Rolla American Nuclear Society
Interview with Dr. Charles TillPBS interview with Dr. Charles Till, nuclear physicist and associate lab director at Argonne National Laboratory West about the Integral Fast Reactor (IFR).
The Future of Nuclear PowerAn interdisciplinary MIT faculty group decided to study the future of nuclear power because of a belief that this technology is an important option for the United States and the world to meet future energy needs without emitting carbon dioxide and other atmospheric pollutants. Other options include increased efficiency, renewables, and carbon sequestration, and all may be needed for a successful greenhouse gas management strategy. This study, addressed to government, industry, and academic leaders, discusses the interrelated technical, economic, environmental, and political challenges facing a significant increase in global nuclear power utilization over the next half century and what might be done to overcome those challenges.
(S-8) Nuclear PowerIntroductory tutorial on how nuclear power works.
JETJET is the world's largest nuclear fusion research facility. Its unique features allow us to explore the unknown; to investigate fusion's potential as a safe, clean, and virtually limitless energy source for future generations.
Nuclear FactsNuclear power technology has existed since Dr. Enrico Fermi achieved the first controlled nuclear reaction on Dec. 2, 1942. It took nine more years before the first electricity was generated with an experimental nuclear reactor to light four light bulbs. Since these significant mileposts were achieved, nuclear power generation has become the clean air resource for generating electricity for countless homes in the United States and around the world.
Radiation Related TermsGlossary of Nuclear Radiation Related Terms
Radiation in NatureRadionuclides are found naturally in air, water and soil. They are even found in us, being that we are products of our environment. Every day, we ingest and inhale radionuclides in our air and food and the water. Natural radioactivity is common in the rocks and soil that makes up our planet, in water and oceans, and in our building materials and homes. There is nowhere on Earth that you can not find Natural Radioactivity.
What You Need to Know about RadiationWhat You Need to Know abot Nuclear Radiation: To protect yourself; To Protect Your Family; To Make Reasonable Social and Political Choices
Basics of Radiation and RadioactivityZipped PowerPoint presentations on the basics of nuclear radiation and radioactivity
Radiation and YouZipped PowerPoint presentation and Microsoft Word formatted handouts for use in explaining nuclear radiation.
Pebble Bed Modular ReactorThe purpose of the Modular Pebble Bed Reactor Project at MIT is to develop a sufficient technical and economic basis for the modular pebble bed reactor plant to determine whether it can compete with natural gas and still meet safety, proliferation resistance and waste disposal concerns.
Pebble bed reactorThe Pebble Bed Reactor is an advanced nuclear reactor design. This technology claims a dramatically higher level of safety and efficiency. Instead of water, it uses helium as the coolant, at very high temperature, to drive a turbine directly. This eliminates the complex steam management system from the design, and increases the transfer efficiency (ratio of electrical output to thermal output) to about 50%.
Pebble Bed Reactor TechnologyThe Pebble Bed Modular Reactor (PBMR) is a new type of high temperature helium gas-cooled nuclear reactor, which builds and advances on world-wide nuclear operators' experience of older reactor designs. The most remarkable feature of these reactors is that they use attributes inherent in and natural to the processes of nuclear energy generation to enhance safety features.
The Modular Pebble Bed Reactor ConceptA modular, pebble bed, high temperature gas reactor with a helium gas turbine generator has the best chance of meeting the future needs of the nuclear industry.
Light Water Reactors and Their AdvancesVirtually all the nuclear reactors in this country and the rest of the world are founded on a water-moderated, water-cooled design. Regular water (H2O), as opposed to heavy water (D2O), is used in virtually all of them, so they are called "Light Water Reactors." Hydrogen (H) has one proton and one electron. Deuterium (D), an isotope of hydrogen, has one proton, one electron, and one neutron, thereby increasing its atomic weight. These reactors were first developed by the U.S. Navy for nuclear submarines; the first commercial electric power reactors were just scaled-up versions of those small prototypes. Only in this decade have light water reactor designs begun to depart from this model. The advances in light water reactors allow certain passive safety features that can greatly simplify the design and operation of the plant. Because the safety features are passive (they require no human or automated response) these reactor designs are often referred to as being "inherently safe." This lecture-discussion will first discuss the current reactor designs, focusing primarily on the two major branches of LWR: the pressurized water reactor (PWR) and the boiling water reactor (BWR). The Canadian Deuterated Water Reactor (CANDU) developed in Canada and the graphite-moderated RMKB used in the former Soviet Union will also exhibit concepts studied in foreign countries. Examples of advanced reactors, particularly those which improve the safety and economics of reactors, are covered as well. Scientists working with these models use associated terms such as "passively stable" and "modular." Such reactors represent the clearest path for nuclear fission in the foreseeable future.
Pebble Bed ReactorsWe are needlessly polluting the environment by burning things - coal, gas, and some oil to make electricity while efforts to design safer nuclear electricity plants are being ignored. Pebble Bed Reactors are a good example of safer nuclear power. Coal burning to make electricity has already done major damage to the environment and if hydrogen fuel cell automobiles ever become practical, enormous amounts of thermal and electrical energy will be needed to produce that hydrogen. Hydrogen is an energy carrier - not a source - and the hydrogen fuel cycle is, at best, 15% efficient. No one wants the environmental mess that getting that much hydrogen from coal will make.
Fast Breeder ReactorsUnder appropriate operating conditions, the neutrons given off by fission reactions can "breed" more fuel from otherwise non-fissionable isotopes. The most common breeding reaction is that of plutonium-239 from non-fissionable uranium-238. The term "fast breeder" refers to the types of configurations which can actually produce more fissionable fuel than they use, such as the LMFBR. This scenario is possible because the non-fissionable uranium-238 is 140 times more abundant than the fissionable U-235 and can be efficiently converted into Pu-239 by the neutrons from a fission chain reaction.
Breeder reactorIn the generation of Nuclear Power, fissionable products may be created by neutron collisions with non-fissionable isotopes. Plutonium for nuclear weapons is created by this means. Since plutonium is also useful as fuel in a reactor, it is possible to build reactors which convert non-fissionable materials into fissionable materials faster than the fissionable materials are used. These are called breeder reactors. Breeder reactors have the characteristic that they can use natural uranium as fuel thereby skipping the enrichment step.
Breeder ReactorsThough the supply of uranium-235 for nuclear fission is large and could last thousands of years, it is ultimately limited. Since light water reactors require enriched fuel, the production of new U-235 fuel rods could become expensive. It is possible to use the plentiful, nonfissile uranium-238 isotope as a reactor fuel by "breeding" fissile plutonium-239 from it by bombardment with neutrons. Breeder reactors "produce more fuel than they consume" because they can create more Pu-239 than is used. This seeming paradox involving the conservation of mass-energy is not magic, since U-238 is steadily converted into the fuel and undesirable byproducts. In a series of nuclear reactions, the frequency of which is dependent on the energy cross-sections of the impacting neutrons, U-238 is changed into Pu-239 with the release of radiation. Some U-235, the conventional fuel of LWR, is needed in the breeder core to initiate the process. The use of breeder reactors could extend the availibility of nuclear fission resources another 100,000 years. Breeders have other advantages as well, but they are not free of disadvantages. This lecture-discussion will cover the physics of breeders and their current applications. The following lecture-discussion examines specific examples of advanced breeder reactors, many of which have resulted from scientists striving to relieve problems with both the old breeder design and potential dangers regarding the fuel cycle.
The Fast Breeder ReactorIn the 1950's, a group of scientists invented a new reactor which revolutionized the world. It's name was the Fast Breeder. It gets this name from its ability to "breed" fuel. It can produce up to 3% less fuel than it uses. One Fast Breeder has been running from when it was built in 1958. It also is unbelievably faster than the normal reactor. The Fast Breeder uses liquid metal sodium instead of water to heat up pipes in the reactor, but it uses water to turn the turbine, which needs to spin. The turbine is what produces the spark to create electricity.
Pressurized water reactorA pressurized water reactor (PWR) is a type of nuclear power reactor that uses ordinary (light) water for both coolant and for neutron moderator. In a PWR, the primary coolant loop is pressurised so the water does not boil, and heat exchangers called steam generators are used to transmit heat to a secondary coolant which is allowed to boil to produce steam either for warship propulsion or for electricity generation. Waste heat from small PWRs has also been used for heating in polar regions. This is the most common type of nuclear power reactor. More than 230 are in use to generate electric power, and several hundred more for naval propulsion.
Pressurized Water ReactorPWR is the abbreviation for the Pressurized Water Reactor. These reactors were originally designed by Westinghouse Bettis Atomic Power Laboratory for military ship applications, then by the Westinghouse Nuclear Power Division for commercial applications. The first commercial PWR plant in the United States was Shippingport, which operated for Duquesne Light until 1982. In addition to Westinghouse, Asea Brown Boveri-Combustion Engineering (ABB-CE), Framatome, Kraftwerk Union, Siemens, and Mitsubishi have typically built this type of reactor throughout the world. Babcock & Wilcox (B&W) built a PWR design power plant but used vertical once-through steam generators, rather than the U-tube design used by the rest of the suppliers. Refuelings are done with the plant shutdown.
Fusion PowerFusion power is the technique of extracting net energy from a nuclear fusion reaction. Technically, most forms of power generation are indirectly fusion-powered, since the Sun is an extremely large natural fusion reactor and its radiation drives most energetic phenomena here on Earth, but the term is usually only used to refer to artificially sustained nuclear fusion.
How A Pressurized water reactor (PWR) WorksA typical nuclear reactor has a few main parts. Inside the "core" where the nuclear reactions take place are the fuel rods and assemblies, the control rods, the moderator, and the coolant. Outside the core are the turbines, the heat exchanger, and part of the cooling system.
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