T he nuclear power plant is the current trend in all kinds of power plants. The energy from the nuclear power plant or any nuclear action is known as Nuclear Energy. The population is increasing day by day and the demand for energy is also increasing gradually. In conventional power plants, coal, gas, oil, etc. are widely used. These sources are limited.
Hence, to avert this limitation as well as to meet the current energy demands, nuclear power plants are the best choice.
So, let’s explore, nuclear power plant!
The nuclear power plant, the name itself implies the heat source from the nuclear reactor. This nuclear plant requires a very small mass as input sources compare to conventional fuels.
In the nuclear power plant, nuclear fission happens which gives a huge amount of energy compare to conventional fuels. Fission means the splitting of uranium. Only 1 kg of Uranium can give the energy equivalent to 3100tons coal or 1700 tons of oil by nuclear fusion.
The nuclear power plant is one kind of power plant which undergoes the nuclear fusion process and generates electricity.
Obninsk Nuclear Power Plant is the world’s first nuclear power plant. It is in Obninsk of the Soviet Union and was started to operate in 1954
Fission means splitting. Nuclear fission means the splitting of atoms in the nuclear reactors. Here, a huge amount of heat energy is released due to this reaction.
Making this reaction and controlling it is the main objects in nuclear power plants.
Uranium, used as fuels, comes with pellets and kept within metal tubes. These metal tubes are known as fuel rods.
Many fuel rods are bundled to make a ready fuel and kept inside the reactor core. Water is used as a coolant and the fuel rods are immersed in the water. Nos of fuel rods depends on the capacity requirements of the nuclear power plant.
Uranium splits into neutrons and nucleus and produced a huge amount of heat.
Nuclear power plants are classified based on the type of nuclear reactors are used. There are mainly two types of nuclear reactors and based on that 80% of the world’s 450 nuclear power plants are built.
Pressurized water reactor is the most common type of reactor used in nuclear power plants. In this reactor, two circuits are used to produce steam:
Boiling water reactors is also widely used to generate power in a lot of places. Here, only on circuit instead of two no’s’, with respect to PVR.
Apart from these two, there are few other types of nuclear power reactors;
In this session, let’s discuss the most widely used pressurized water reactor type nuclear power plant for examples. There are various components in the Nuclear Power Plant, however, brief details for the main components are described for better understanding.
The nuclear reactors are the primary components in all kinds of nuclear power plants. It is simply the heart of the nuclear power plant. We have seen the thermal power plant, where the boiler is used to produce heat. Coal is normally used as fossil fuels to generate electricity.
In a nuclear power plant, nuclear reactors are used as boilers like thermal power plants, and uranium is used as fuels to generate electricity.
Nuclear chain reaction i.e., nuclear fusion happens in a nuclear reactor. This fusion process produces heat. This heat is transferred from the nuclear reactor core to coolants i.e. fluid. Water is commonly used as a coolant.
Now the water takes the heat and circulated to the steam generator by reactor coolant pumps to produce steam.
There are several components common to most types of reactors:
Let’s try to understand the individual parts of the reactor, to have a brief idea:
It is a rigid structure that houses the reactor, steam generator, coolant system, and all related components.
Fuel Commonly used
Uranium is used so that fusion takes place. Uranium is the source of energy as well as neutrons so that chain reaction will be continued. It looks like cylindrical pills come within metallic rods.
Moderator is used to slow down the generation of neutrons. It reduces the fission process as well as chain reactions.
In a nuclear reactor, the pressurizer is an important part to control pressure. It is placed in the primary coolant circuit.
Control of steam production and balancing of the liquid stage and the steam stage is done by the pressurizer.
The heat generated from the fission process is transferred to this cooling water or coolant.
Reactor coolant pump
Hot water from the reactor core needs to be circulated to the steam generator. This circulation is done by coolant circulation pump or reactor coolant pumps or RCV.
Control rods are able to absorb neutrons and control the numbers as well.
It is basically a heat exchanger. Hot water from the primary circuit comes in this steam generator and produces steam.
Nuclear reactors are used not only for power generation, it used also for,
Steam from the steam generator comes into the turbine through a steam line or steam pipe.
A condenser is used as a heat exchanger and it consists of a set of tubes. Exhaust steam from the turbine is required to cool for further use.
The temperature of condenser water is high, and it is required to cool. The cooling tower cools the water and circulate back to the condenser through condensate extraction pumps.
The generator is used to produce electrical energy from mechanical energy, and we got the power output.
The nuclear power plant is explained here with a simple diagram. This plant works almost the same as thermal power plants except for the nuclear reactor.
Look at the diagram,
Let’s see how nuclear plant works?
Nuclear Reactor, Reactor Coolant Pumps, Steam generator or Heat Exchanger, Feed Pump, Condenser, Turbine, and Generator are the main parts of nuclear power plant.
The uranium fission takes place inside the nuclear reactor. It releases a large amount of energy that heats the coolant water circulating at a very high pressure. This water is transported via the primary circuit to a heat exchanger (steam generator) that produces water steam.
We have already studied atoms. It consists nucleus at the Centre and electrons in the orbits. The nucleus is packed and it is the heaviest matter in the atoms. Nucleus consists of neutrons and protons.
Uranium is the heaviest matter and it has 92 protons. Due to the large volume, the atomic force is comparatively less.
Neutrons are bombarded on the uranium; uranium atoms will be split, and more neutrons will be released. Hence, fission starts. These neutrons will again collide with uranium’s atoms and release neutrons again. This release, again and again, continues chai reaction.
Control with control rods
There are many control rods to control the chain reaction. Control rods are able to absorb the neutrons which stop the reaction or control.
Heat transfer to coolant
Due to fission, huge heat energy is released. A coolant i.e water is circulated, and heat transfer happens between the reactor and the coolant.
Water is becoming hot and the temperature of the water becomes high.
Production of steam
The coolant is transferred to the steam generator through reactor coolant pumps. Heat exchange happens and hot water changed into high-pressure steam.
Rotation of Turbine
The steam from the steam generator enters the turbine and hits the blade. Due to the high-pressure turbine start to rotate.
Exhaust steam is transferred to the condenser and form hot water. This hot water is circulated to the cooling tower and cooled through circulating pumps.
Due to the rotation of the turbine, the connected shaft with the generator also rotates. A magnetic field is created, and electricity is produced.
There are many advantages of nuclear power plants as well as nuclear energy,
There are few disadvantages also of Nuclear Power Plant as well as nuclear energy
All nuclear power plants have a number of safety measures to prevent
There are various application of nuclear energy,
10% of the world’s electricity. About 50 power reactors are currently being constructed in 15 countries
As of March 2018, India has installed a total of 7 nuclear power plants including 22 Nuclear reactors of a total of 6780 MW capacity. In addition, India has already planned to install more. These nuclear plants are operated by Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL).
Plants are located;
Hence, we have got the basic idea of nuclear power plant along with its basics, diagrams, working principles. Any doubt, feel free to contact.
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