What is a nuclear power plant ?
Atomic energy is the cheapest form of energy and is the next generation power. Nuclear power plants use atomic energy. Nuclear Power Plants are thermal power stations which generate electrical energy from heat. They consist of many buildings and facilities. There are many nuclear power stations all across the world. Nuclear power stations are considered the base load stations. The cost and maintenance of the nuclear power stations are very low. Hence they can be considered as the base load stations. Thought the cost and maintenance are low, the only risk is the devastation of the power plant and also its surroundings if there is a small problem.
X – 10 Graphite Reactor in Oal Ridge, Tennessee was the first nuclear power plant station to produce electricity and to power up a light bulb. EBR – 1 near Arco, Idaho was the world’s first nuclear power plant to supply electricity to the power grid. The world’s first Full scale and base nuclear power plant was established in Calder hall in England.
The turbine building consists of several turbines as well as the generators necessary for the power generation. It also consists of a containment building where the nuclear reactor is housed which is made of thick concrete reinforced inside. In this building nuclear reactions take place and water is heated in this building. A cooling tower is also present where the hot water is cooled down and the height of the building will be more than 200 meters.
Nuclear Reactor is the central part of the Nuclear Power Plant. Heat is generated in the Nuclear Reactor by controlled nuclear fission. Nuclear reactors use uranium as a fuel to run the chain reaction. Uranium is a very abundant metal available on earth and is usually found in two isotope types. Uranium – 238 and Uranium – 235. Different isotopes have different behavior as the number of neutrons are different. Different isotopes have a different half life period. Half life is the span of time that it takes for the radioactive element to decompose.
Steam Turbine is used to convert the heat in the steam into mechanical energy. It is aligned with main reactor building. The water passes continuously to remove heat, i.e., transfer of heat. A generator is also present which converts mechanical energy to electrical energy, it generates high rated power. In the case of emergency, some safety valves are also present which prevent the pipes from bursting or the complete nuclear reactor from exploding. The chambers of these are connected to an intermediate cooling circuit. The water in this stream generator is controlled by feed water pump. Most nuclear reactors use two power supplies. If one power supply is turned off, another power supply is used. All the units present are as follows –
- Nuclear Reactor
- Steam turbine
- Cooling System
- Safety Valves
- Feedwater Pump
- Emergency Power Supply
There are many advantages and disadvantages of Nuclear Power Plants as the extent of advantages are more, Nuclear Power Plants are mentioned as the best power source when safety measures are taken.