Q:

How does a nuclear power station work?

A:

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.

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

Related Questions

  • Q:

    What does nuclear energy do?

    A:

    Nuclear energy provides power, heat and electricity by splitting atoms in a process called nuclear fission. The heat produced by fission creates steam that powers the turbines, thus generating electricity. Nuclear energy serves as a dependable source of power because it is not susceptible to inclement weather and climate conditions.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • 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 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 were the successes of Rutherford's scattering experiment?

    A:

    Rutherford's scattering experiment showed that atoms consist mostly of empty space, with a positively charged nucleus at the center. His experiments provided the first working model of atomic structure based on observation. Rutherford’s atom has a planetary structure, with negatively charged electrons orbiting around a positively charged nucleus and a large amount of empty space between the two.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:

Explore