What is a Nuclear power plant?
Nuclear Power Plant is a thermal station where the thermal energy is converted into mechanical energy. Then the electrical energy is generated from the mechanical energy.
According to the report of the International Atomic Energy Agency, 450 nuclear power plants are operating across 30 countries, as of 2018. In the US the number of commercial reactors is 94.
As the name suggests, with the use of heat, steam is produced which then steers a steam turbine connected to the generator. As a result, the generator produces electricity.
Energy conversion in a nuclear reactor
A nuclear reactor is called the heart of nuclear power plant.
Nuclear fission which includes controlled nuclear chain reaction is the process behind the production of electricity.
Here’s how a nuclear reactor works
- Uranium is used as nuclear fuel.
- Sealed metal tubes called fuel rods are stacked with ceramic pallets. Uranium is processed into these Fuel rods. The fuel rods are submerged into the water in the reactor vessel. The water acts as a coolant and a moderator to keep nuclear fission under control.
- As a result of Uranium fission, extreme heat is produced.
- This heat is then removed with the help of a coolant. The coolant can be liquid or gas, depending on the type of reactor.
- The collected heat is then used to generate steam.
- The steam generator produces mechanical energy from the steam.
- The mechanical energy is directed into a turbine where it is transformed into electrical energy.
- The electrical energy is distributed among power grids to supply electricity to customers.
The steam is then reused after cooling and condensing the water. The water is again pumped back into the steam generator. The cycle begins for a second and third time. The conversion continues to occur.
The operation, maintenance as well as cost of fuel is at the lower end, making Nuclear Power Plant a base-load power supplier.