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Energy and the Environment

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  1. Introduction
  2. Transport Fuels
    5 Topics
  3. Energy Sources: Fossil Fuels
    8 Topics
  4. Energy Sources: Renewables
    10 Topics
  5. Electricity
    10 Topics
  6. Energy Sources: Nuclear
    6 Topics
  7. Demand Response
    6 Topics
  8. Energy/Emissions Policy
    15 Topics
  9. Energy Economics
    2 Topics
    1 Quiz
Lesson 6, Topic 4
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Nuclear Power Plants

Abdulaziz July 19, 2020
Lesson Progress
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  • Nuclear fission: splitting atoms
    • giving off extraordinary amounts of (steam producing) heat
    • huge unstable atoms are hit with neutrons (usually of radioactive uranium 235)
  • Process releases energy & more neutrons
  • Neutrons hit other uranium atoms
    • chain reaction
nuclear fission, fission, nuclear

Nuclear fuel rods inside a power station

  • Control rods (neutron absorbing material) can be raised or lowered between the fuel rods to control the reaction
  • Reactors are cooled by the same water used to moderate the fuel cycle
  • Fuel rods are inserted into water to make superheated, high pressure steam (300 C)
    • Steam is radioactive
    • a closed loop heat exchanger is used to transfer heat to non radioactive water

Nuclear meltdown & melt-through

  • meltdown
    • fuel rods overheat
    • leaves a molten mass of fuel and fission products at the bottom of the reactor vessel (in the casting)
  • melt through
    • molten fuel and fission products leak through the casing into the environment

Nuclear power generation summary

  • Uranium fuel rods, bombarded with neutrons which break apart U 235 atoms (fission)
    • Reaction releases large amounts of heat
    • Water directed through heat to make steam
    • Steam turns turbine connected to generator