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Nuclear power - Essay Example

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The bundles are placed into water in a pressurized vessel (Dibyajyoti 1). There are two types of nuclear reactors and these include boiling water reactors…
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Nuclear power
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Nuclear power Nuclear reactor contains metal rods made of large amounts of uranium that are placed into bundles creating a fuel sampling. The bundles are placed into water in a pressurized vessel (Dibyajyoti 1). There are two types of nuclear reactors and these include boiling water reactors and pressurized water reactors. The boiling water reactors were the first to be developed while the pressurized water reactors came much later. In both systems, steam is generated which drive the turbines. Thereafter, the turbines power the generators to produce electricity. Thus, the entire process leads into generation of clean and safe electricity energy.
Basic Process – How Reactors Work
Fuel –thermal fission – fission fragments
Thermal reactors are common in many nuclear plants in the world since they mainly use thermal fission. Thermal neutrons move within thermal equilibrium at a temperature of about 550F, corresponding to a velocity of 3700 meters per second (Virtual Nuclear Tourist 1). On striking a uranium- 235 nucleus with the fuel, the nucleus sometimes split or fission into two unequally sized nuclei known as fission fragments. The fission products comprise large positively charged particles of elements such as Iodine or Strontium. The fission products slow down immediately and producing heat in the fuel. Moreover, 2 and 3 neutrons are produced in the process.
Moderator
The moderator decelerates the neutrons to the thermal energy. Neutrons do not travel very far within the reactor. They are generated from fission in the fuel, jump around in the moderator, then lose a large amount of their energies and later causes fission (Virtual Nuclear Tourist 1).
Coolant
The aim of nuclear fission is to generate heat. Thus, the coolant removes the heat and maintains the temperature of the fuel within tolerable limits (Virtual Nuclear Tourist 1). It also cools the moderator, which can also be used to cool the fuel. In some cases, it also cools the fuel by moving round the rods holding the fuel.
The fuel within the reactor exists in the form of pellets of made of uranium dioxide or metal dioxide. There exists two or more isotopes of uranium and includes U- 235 and U 238 (Virtual Nuclear Tourist 1). U -238 is common in nature and has 146 neutrons and 92 protons. The remaining portion comprise of U – 235 and U 234. In commercial nuclear reactors, the fuel has a higher concentration of U- 235 compared to the level found in nature. It will undergo thermal and fast fission when struck by neutrons. Consequently, U – 238 will also undergo fission when struck by quick moving neutrons of specific energies and can in some case absorb the neutrons and decay to produce Plutonium 239 (Pu- 239) (Virtual Nuclear Tourist 1). The Pu – 239 may also fission with thermal neutrons. In some countries such as France, reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel occurs. The process entails chemical separation of the plutonium from spent fuel and utilized with U – 238 in the generation of new fuel installed in the reactor. The fuel is regarded as Mixed Oxide Fuel (MOX).
Radioactive waste management
Radioactive waste or radwaste come from nuclear fuel cycle. These wastes vary in terms of their toxicity thus requires different handling methods. The various types of radwastes includes exempt wastes and very low level wastes, low level wastes, intermediate level wastes, high level wastes, wastes from mining and milling, and conversion, enrichment and fuel fabrication wastes. Every year, nuclear power facilities generate around 200000m3 of both low and intermediate level radioactive wastes, as well as approximately 10000 m3 of high level wastes including used fuel (Nuclear world Association1).
Consumers of the energy compensate for the cost of managing this radwastes since it is internalized in the whole production expenditure. At every stage of the nuclear fuel process, there are proven technologies to dispose of the wastes. For instance, the low and intermediate – level wastes are currently under implementation while, for high-level wastes, there is use of geological repositories (Nuclear world Association1). Moreover, some countries like the USA have adopted political delays tactics.
The radioactivity or hazard levels of all nuclear wastes decreases with time, unlike other industrial wastes. After some time, radioactive wastes decay and turn into non-radioactive elements. The major objective of managing as well as disposing of radioactive wastes is to ensure protection of individuals and the environment (Nuclear world Association1). Therefore, necessary measures are taken to ensure that radwastes remain harmless in the ecosystem as they are properly contained and managed even if it is through deep, as well as permanent burial. Thus, none of the wastes is permitted to cause harmful environmental pollution. Radioactive wastes constitute less than 1% of the total industrial noxious wastes. Nevertheless, every country needs to deal with toxic wastes with caution to ensure safety of the earth.
Works Cited
Dibyajyoti, Mohanta. “Animation of working principle of nuclear power plant." Web, January 12, 2013. Retrieved April 20, 2014 from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pqn8xNWTm-c
Nuclear world Association. Radioactive Waste Management. Web, 2014. Retrieved April 20, 2014 from http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/nuclear-fuel-cycle/nuclear- wastes/radioactive-waste-management/
Virtual Nuclear Tourist. “Basic Process – How Reactors Work”. Web, 2006. Retrieved April 20, 2014 from http://www.nucleartourist.com/basics/basic.htm Read More
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