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Nuclear Power

Essay by   •  December 19, 2012  •  Essay  •  1,064 Words (5 Pages)  •  1,374 Views

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Nuclear Power Essay

When the hot summer and the extremely cold winter arrived, Canada consumed over 600,000 gigawatt hours of electricity a year, and 15% of all that energy comes from nuclear power. The power plant has over 4,000 workers and each day, workers must each pass through a full-body radiation monitoring gate. The censored gate makes sure that the employees haven't been exposed to radioactive particles. It would seem too uptight when it comes to extensive precautions; however, the risks are very high when dealing with nuclear power.

Nuclear power is the alternative power source that uses the nuclear fission of uranium to create heat through a heat transfer mechanism and turbines, create electricity. In other words, it is the energy produced by the nuclear reaction through fusion and fission. For a nuclear reactor to create energy it is necessary for nuclear fission to take place. Neutrons produced in a fission reaction can cause further fission reactions or chain reaction. A chain reaction is a process which neutrons released in fission produce an additional fission in at least one further nucleus. This nucleus produces neutrons, and the process repeats. For example, if each neutron releases 2 more neutrons, then the number of fissions doubles each generation. In that case, in 10 generations, there are 1,024 fissions and in 80 generations, there about 6 x 10 23 (a mole) fissions.

In the case of nuclear fuel: natural uranium contains approximately 0.7 % U235, the rest are U238. The 235 is the useful fissile isotope (isotopes of an element that can be split through fission). Some reactors using graphite or heavy water can use natural uranium, but light water reactors need to have the U235 proportion increased to about 4 %. This is called fuel enrichment. When nuclear power discussed, it is important to also mention the nuclear power plant. The purpose of a nuclear power plant is not to produce or release "Nuclear Power.", instead, the purpose of a nuclear power plant is to produce electricity. It should not be surprising, then, that a nuclear power plant has many similarities to other electrical generating facilities. It should also be obvious that nuclear power plants have some significant differences from other plants. In a nuclear power plant, the electricity generator is the most important device. This device converts mechanical energy to electrical energy. The generator forces electric charge to flow through an external electrical circuit.

The role of a moderator in the production of controlled fission is to slow the neutrons down to thermal energy. Neutrons usually do not travel very far in the reactor. They get produced from the fission in the fuel, bounce around a lot in the moderator and lose most of their energy, then sometimes cause fission or get absorbed in the fuel. The control rods in a nuclear reactor are used to absorb neutrons. It is an important technology for maintaining the desired state of fission within a nuclear reactor. In addition, it prevents fission from accelerating beyond control. In a fission reactor, there is also a heat exchanger. Its purpose is to transfer heat from fluid to fluid. For example, steam generators are heat exchangers used

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