Q:

How does a nuclear power station work?

A:

Quick Answer

Nuclear power stations generate electricity through the fission, or splitting, of uranium atoms inside the reactor core, which generates extreme amounts of heat. The core is surrounded with water, which boils due to the heat, creating steam that is then used to drive a turbine to create electricity.

Know More

Full Answer

This same type of steam turbine is also used in fossil fuel-burning power plants, with the only major difference being the source of the heat that creates the steam.

In nuclear power plants, there are two different ways to generate the steam. The first is a boiling water reactor, where steam is created directly within the reactor and then carried to the turbine through pipes. The other method is the pressurized water reactor, where the heated water surrounding the reactor is kept under intense pressure to prevent it from boiling. After reaching a specific temperature, the heated water is then transferred to a secondary container near the turbine, where it is then allowed to boil and create steam.

There are approximately 100 nuclear power stations in the United States. Nearly two-thirds of those are pressurized steam reactors. Despite the small number of nuclear power plants, nuclear energy accounts for around 20 percent of the country's total electricity output.

Learn more about Physics

Related Questions

  • Q:

    What is nuclear fission?

    A:

    According to the International Atomic Energy Agency, nuclear fission is the process by which large, heavy atoms split into lighter ones, releasing substantial amounts of energy in the process. This can occur due to natural radioactive decay, or it can be triggered by an atomic collision. Nuclear fission can power reactors or create massive explosions if uncontrolled.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    What are some funny physics jokes?

    A:

    There are many physics jokes, such as the atoms and electron anecdote. Two atoms bump into each other. One says, "I have lost an electron!" The other asks, "Are you sure?" The first replies, "Yes, I'm positive."

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    What is heat energy?

    A:

    Heat energy is determined by how active the atoms or molecules are in a substance. The atoms and molecules in a hot substance move rapidly and seem excited while the molecules and atoms in a cool substance show less movement.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    What is the difference between a hydrogen bomb vs. an atomic bomb?

    A:

    Atomic bombs work by splitting atoms, while hydrogen bombs, also known as nuclear bombs, draw their energy from fusing atoms together. While both types of reactions involve the nucleus of the atom, and both can therefore rightly be called "nuclear," tradition has reserved the word for the types of reactions that are exclusive to fusion devices.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:

Explore