Nuclear Energy

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Nuclear Energy

Nuclear Energy is defined as the energy released by reactions within atomic nuclei, as in nuclear fission or fusion.

The towers you see billowing steam are not the actual reactor core. The inside of a reactor has fuel rods surrounded by control rods to keep the fuel rods from overheating. Common control rods are made from the elements silver, indium, and cadmium.

A nuclear reactor has many parts in order to keep it safe, running effectively, and to generate power.

The cooling towers seen here are used to carry any excess heat the reactor produces. The heat causes water to evaporate and the excess is released as steam out of the top of the tower.

Obviously, some accidents have happened with nuclear reactors, some bigger than others. The well-known Chernobyl disaster occurred when a reactor overheated and exploded. The area surrounding the destroyed reactor will not be habitable for humans for thousands of years.

The most common fuel pellets are Uranium-235 and Plutonium-239. The mixed oxide method (MOX) produces a fuel that is a blend of plutonium and either natural or depleted uranium.

The reactor shown above glows blue from the energy released by the breakdown of nuclear particles.

Nuclear fuel rods are eventually depleted. After the nuclear fuel is "spent" it is placed into concrete cylinders and usually stored underground. "Spent" nuclear fuel is still radioactive for a very long time, so safe storage is imperative.

Nuclear Energy

The heat produced by fission in the reactor heats water, producing steam. The steam is piped to the turbine, which spins and generates electricity.


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