How does a nuclear reactor work for dummies?

The water in the core is heated by nuclear fission and then pumped into tubes inside a heat exchanger. Those tubes heat a separate water source to create steam. The steam then turns an electric generator to produce electricity. The core water cycles back to the reactor to be reheated and the process is repeated.

How does nuclear reactor work simple?

Nuclear power plants use heat produced during nuclear fission to heat water. … The heat produced during nuclear fission in the reactor core is used to boil water into steam, which turns the blades of a steam turbine. As the turbine blades turn, they drive generators that make electricity.

What is a nuclear reactor in layman’s terms?

A nuclear reactor is a machine that uses fission to generate heat. There are different designs which use different fuels. Most often, uranium-235 or plutonium-239 are the main components of these fuels. Most nuclear reactors are used to make electricity. … Some reactors are used for other purposes.

How does nuclear energy produce electricity step by step?

So there you have it: the nuclear reaction heats the fuel, the fuel heats the water to make steam, the steam spins the turbine, the turbine turns the generator, and the generator makes electricity.

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How does a nuclear reactor start?

A nuclear reactor is driven by the splitting of atoms, a process called fission, where a particle (a ‘neutron’) is fired at an atom, which then fissions into two smaller atoms and some additional neutrons. … The fissioning of atoms in the chain reaction also releases a large amount of energy as heat.

Why did Chernobyl explode?

The Chernobyl accident in 1986 was the result of a flawed reactor design that was operated with inadequately trained personnel. The resulting steam explosion and fires released at least 5% of the radioactive reactor core into the environment, with the deposition of radioactive materials in many parts of Europe.

Why are nuclear power plants near water?

Most nuclear power plants are located along lakes, rivers or seacoasts because the facilities use water to cool the reactors. Cooling water discharged from a plant can affect the ambient habitat conditions for aquatic species.

How do fuel rods work in a nuclear reactor?

The uranium is processed into small ceramic pellets and stacked together into sealed metal tubes called fuel rods. … Inside the reactor vessel, the fuel rods are immersed in water which acts as both a coolant and moderator. The moderator helps slow down the neutrons produced by fission to sustain the chain reaction.

What is the main function of a nuclear reactor to convert?

Just as conventional thermal power stations generate electricity by harnessing the thermal energy released from burning fossil fuels, nuclear reactors convert the energy released by controlled nuclear fission into thermal energy for further conversion to mechanical or electrical forms.

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Why is uranium used in most nuclear power plants?

Uranium is the fuel most widely used by nuclear plants for nuclear fission. Uranium is considered a nonrenewable energy source, even though it is a common metal found in rocks worldwide. Nuclear power plants use a certain kind of uranium, referred to as U-235, for fuel because its atoms are easily split apart.

How does a nuclear fusion work?

Nuclear Fusion reactions power the Sun and other stars. In a fusion reaction, two light nuclei merge to form a single heavier nucleus. The process releases energy because the total mass of the resulting single nucleus is less than the mass of the two original nuclei. The leftover mass becomes energy.

Why is nuclear energy bad?

Nuclear energy produces radioactive waste

A major environmental concern related to nuclear power is the creation of radioactive wastes such as uranium mill tailings, spent (used) reactor fuel, and other radioactive wastes. These materials can remain radioactive and dangerous to human health for thousands of years.