✎✎✎ What Is Nuclear Energy?

Monday, August 09, 2021 8:52:10 AM

What Is Nuclear Energy?

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What is nuclear energy? Shrink down to an atom and find out

The difference between the different types of electrical installations is in the source of energy: a nuclear power plant takes advantage of the heat released in the nuclear fission reactions of certain atoms breaks them. Nuclear reactions take place in the nuclear reactor. Fission chain reactions take place within the reactor in a controlled manner. The element that fission is called nuclear fuel. Uranium fuel is normally used because it is a very unstable element and easy to break. The operating life of a nuclear power plant is generally considered to be around thirty years.

The main problem they present is the management of the nuclear waste they generate. The function of a nuclear power plant is to convert the energy contained in the uranium atoms into electricity. This type of power plant takes advantage of the energy contained in the atoms of nuclear fuel. The conversion is achieved by splitting the nucleus of one of these atoms, releasing a large amount of heat energy. With heat energy , electrical energy can be obtained through a process similar to that of any other type of thermoelectric plant. As in a conventional thermal power plant, the heat is used to generate steam that drives a steam turbine connected to a generator that produces electricity.

It is the highest number in any other country. There are commercial nuclear power reactors operating globally, with another 54 under construction and planned, especially in China, India, and Russia. The gigawatts of electricity produced for millions of people using these reactors have not emitted air pollutants. In a nuclear power plant, energy is extracted from the nucleus of uranium atoms by means of their division nuclear fission. Atoms have internal bonds that link their sub-particles electrons , neutrons , and protons. When dividing, these bonds break and release the internal binding energy inside the atom that held the separated particles together.

Nuclear fission is caused by an artificial and controlled way. To do this, a neutron is fired at a very large atom. This small particle, at a certain speed, breaks the atom. When the nucleus breaks, a large quantity of energy is released in the form of heat: it is an exothermic nuclear reaction. For the energy obtained to be greater than the energy used, it is necessary for nuclear reactions to be chain reactions. Thus, although a lot of energy is needed to start the nuclear chain reaction, once the reaction has already started, not so much energy is needed to maintain it, and there comes a time when the energy obtained is higher than the energy used.

Chain reactions take place in the core of the nuclear reactor. Subsequently, a circuit of tubes through which a fluid called a refrigerant circulates will be responsible for transporting the heat generated out of the tank, cooling it. This circuit is called the primary circuit. The heat obtained from nuclear reactions is transferred to water using a heat exchanger. Water is heated until it boils; water turns into steam at very high pressure. With pressurized steam, the blades of a turbine are made to move. In this way, we have transformed thermal energy into mechanical energy. The turbine will be connected to an electric generator. The generator is responsible for transforming mechanical energy into electrical energy. Nuclear power plants are some of the most sophisticated and complex power systems ever designed.

Any complex system, no matter how well designed and built, cannot be considered fail-safe. Stephanie Cooke has said:. The reactors themselves were enormously complex machines with an incalculable amount of things that could go wrong. When that happened at Three Mile Island in , another line of errors was exposed in the nuclear world. One malfunction led to another, and this to another series of errors, until the reactor core began to melt, and even the most highly trained team of nuclear engineers in the world did not know how to respond. The accident revealed serious deficiencies in a system whose mission was to protect the health and safety of people. A fundamental issue related to complexity is that nuclear power systems have far exceeded their life spans.

The duration of projects from the beginning of the construction of a commercial nuclear power plant, to the safe disposal of its radioactive waste , can last between to years. The U. Energy Information Administration EIA projects in the Annual Energy Outlook Reference case that new nuclear electricity generation capacity will be added in and , but capacity retirements and derating of some reactors will result in less total nuclear electricity generation capacity in than in Nuclear explained U.

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