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Nuclear Power

The nuclear energy was the most concentrated form of energy ever discovered. According to Einsteins equation, if 1 u of mass is converted to energy.

E = 1 x 3 x 10 8
E = 931.49 MeV

This is tremendous amount of energy which even is incomprehensible. What is noteworthy that this energy is produced by just 1 u of mass.

Since 1kg = 1,66x1027u

The nuclear energy obtained from 1 kg of mass would be 9.0 × 1016 joules

This is definitely amazing figure. The compression of the same led scientists to experiment to break the nucleus and harness this energy.

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What is Nuclear Power?

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Nuclear power is also called nuclear energy. It is an alternative power source in which the power is produced by nuclear reaction. There are two main types of nuclear reactions by which power can be produce. Generally energy is produced by controlled nuclear reaction so that it can be used in various works.

  1. Nuclear fission
  2. Nuclear fusion


1. Nuclear Fission

  • In these nuclear reactions, energy is produced by splitting of nucleus of an atom into smaller parts with releasing a large amount of energy.
  • Generally the reaction is completed by firing of a neutron on the nucleus of an atom. Due to the energy of the neutron bullet, the target element (nucleus of atom) splits into two or more elements.
  • These produced elements are lighter than the parent atom. For example, the fission of U235 is the example of nuclear fission.
  • The neutrons are bombarded on uranium nuclei to split it in various small fragments.
  • It produces further multiple neutrons which are used to split other uranium nuclei.
  • The controlled nuclear fission chain reaction is used in nuclear reactor to use the released energy in nuclear power plant. The energy is used in nuclear reactors.
  • The uncontrolled nuclear fission is the cause of nuclear explosion. Each nuclei undergoes the fission by two or more than two additional reactions in uncontrollable manner.
  • Every step completes only in fraction of seconds with large amount of heat and energy.
  • This large amount of released heat and energy is the main cause of expansion of surrounding material.

2. Nuclear Fusion

  • These are the reactions of producing one large element from the fusion of two or more elements together with releasing energy.
  • The amount of released energy of nuclear fusion reactions is very good so they are also known as thermonuclear reactions.
  • The common example of nuclear fusion is the formation of element helium which is produced by fusion of two isotopes of hydrogen.
Nuclear Fusion
  • The hydrogen bomb works by fusion. The high amount of heat needs to initiate the fusion reaction so an atomic bomb is used for that.
  • The nuclei of hydrogen are fused to produce helium with releasing huge amounts of energy. This results a huge explosion.

History of Nuclear Power

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The history of nuclear power also involves the history of the steam engine and the steam turbine as the in the basic process of nuclear power, the steam causes for producing power.
  1. An Alexandrian philosopher Ctesibius discovered the piston – pump in 100BC.
  2. In 1606, Giovanni Batista produced steam by heating water and stored this steam in the empty space. But due to expansion of warm air, water forced out.
  3. Many scientists worked on steam powered pumps. In 1680, Robert Boyle invented the steam engine. During this, water was heated by using gunpowder explosion. This experiment was the initiation of a nuclear power-like process.
  4. During 1712, Thomas and John Calley invented the first successful steam engine.
  5. In 1769, Nicholas Cugnot made the first mechanically road vehicle in which two - cylinder piston connected steam engine and high pressure steam was used as the power source.
  6. In 1775, James Watt improved steam engines with pumped water. Watt patented used new set up that is still used in internal combustion engine. There was a connection between piston and rotating gear.
  7. From 1813 to 1825, steam engine was used in many boats, vehicles and trains.
  8. In 1823 Jacob Perkins invented super heated steam in an experiment, called a flash boiler. This steam was later used in nuclear power plants to turn the steam turbine. The steam locomotive became in news up to 1850.
  9. After that the steam powered devices were became more popular than electric vehicles. Etienne Lenoir made the first practical internal combustion engine in 1860. This was a gas engine.
  10. After that in 1884, a high-speed petrol engine and four wheel high-speed petrol engine were produced by Gottlieb Daimler. In 1892, the diesel engine was operated from fuel ignition which result air with high compression against a piston.
  11. The diesel engine had 50% more thermal efficiency than steam engines. Carl developed a steam turbine which had impulsive in nature in 1890. After 1900, turbine technology was highly improved.
  12. In December 1942, Enrico Fermi successfully completed the controlled nuclear chain reaction with a demonstration reactor. This was known as the Chicago Pile 1. The united state bombarded the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in august, 1945.
  13. After this explosion, US Atomic Energy commission decided to use atomic energy in peaceful works.
  14. In 1951, first time energy was produced from a nuclear reaction in reactor. This could be enough to light the approx four electric bulbs.
  15. In 1956, the first nuclear power station was built by Atomic Energy Commission in England. The uranium was used as fuel and it was known as Calder Hall Power Station at coast of Cumberland.
  16. In 1957, the first full scale nuclear power plant was started in Shipping port. After this in April 1965, the first nuclear reactor is operated. But due to major nuclear accident near Harrisburg, the reactor of the nuclear power plant was damaged.
  17. Thus up to 1984, the nuclear power works as good source for electrical generation.
Although many explosion has been occurred due to nuclear plant and caused the harmful radiations and diseases but this time it is highly developed. The United States has 109 nuclear power plants which produce 610 billion kilo watt power.

How does Nuclear Power Work?

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Nuclear power is produced by using Uranium. The nuclear power generates approx 11% energy needed for whole world. It produces large amounts of energy from small amounts of fuel and without any pollution. The nuclear plants depend on the heat of nuclear fission.

The nuclear power plants require induced fission. Generally uranium-235 is used for nuclear power and nuclear bombs. The Nuclear Power is an exothermic decomposition chemical reaction in which water heats in to steam. This steam turns steam turbine and thus generator converts the mechanical energy of the turbine to electrical energy.

Working

  • In the nuclear power plant, the energy produced by enriched uranium must be control and allows it to heat water into steam.
  • The uranium pellets are arranged as long rods which are collected together to form bundles.
  • The bundles are put in water inside a pressure vessel. The water is used as coolant.
  • The control rods are used to prevent the overheating. The material of control rods absorbs neutrons.
  • Thus the rate of nuclear reaction can be controlled by them. If more energy is needed then the rods are lifted out from the bundle to absorb few electrons and for reducing heat, control rods are lowered into the uranium bundle.

Nuclear Power Working
The general processing of reactor is

Nuclear fission $\rightarrow$ water heats to produce steam $\rightarrow$ Steam turns turbines $\rightarrow$ turbines spin generators $\rightarrow$ generate electrical power

The heat of uranium bundle turns the water in to steam by heating it. This produced steam drives a turbine and thus generator spins and produces the electric energy. In some nuclear power plants, a secondary intermediate heat exchanger is used to pass the steam and convert another loop of water in to steam. This turns the turbine.
The main advantage of these reactors is that the turbine and radioactive water/steam never comes in contact with each other. In some reactors, the gas like carbon dioxide or liquid metal like sodium, potassium are used as coolant fluid which is in contact with reactor core. Thus the core can be operated at high temperature.  

Advantages of Nuclear Power

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Some of the important advantage of nuclear power are described as below.
  1. The nuclear power plants produce energy without the emission of poisonous gases like carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide etc. This is definitely good method to produce energy compare to other methods like burning of fossil fuels, electricity production nuclear power based on coal which are more polluting methods for atmosphere.
  2. Nuclear power is an efficient method than coal based nuclear power process. As the uranium is used to produce energy which produces 20000 times more power than coal.
  3. The nuclear waste is confined and small in amount than fossil fuels waste.
  4. All the waste produce in the nuclear power are stored in fire, water or in capsules of earthquake for safety. The waste decays with in period of time and don’t have any harmful effect on eco system. The nuclear waste is not like the chemical waste which does not decompose and emits poisonous gases. So the nuclear power is a good, eco friendly scientific method of power.
  5. The nuclear power source is reliable and safe source of power. The main source of power is uranium in nuclear power which is easily available.

Disadvantage of Nuclear Power

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  1. Some radioactive wastes are the reason for pollution so new technologies are used in process to make it cleaner and pollution free. They get stored in cooling pools near nuclear reactors.
  2. The leakage of radiation or plant meltdown can be the cause of serious accidents. Some accidents are happened in past. In the plant meltdown, the nuclear fission reaction becomes out of control. This results a nuclear explosion and emission of harmful radiations.
  3. Radiations are produced in nuclear explosions which harms the human cell and cause of serious illness.
  4. The human errors also lead accidents because the power stations are all manually run.
  5. The reactors need an expensive capital outlay in the beginning ad it is not easy the maintenance work of reactors
More topics in Nuclear Power
Nuclear Power Plant Alternative Fuel Sources
Nuclear Waste
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