nuclear power

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nuclear power

power, esp electrical or motive, produced by a nuclear reactor

nuclear power

[′nü·klē·ər ′pau̇·ər]
Power whose source is nuclear fission or fusion.

Nuclear power

Power derived from fission or fusion nuclear reactions. More conventionally, nuclear power is interpreted as the utilization of the fission reactions in a nuclear power reactor to produce steam for electric power production, for ship propulsion, or for process heat. Fission reactions involve the breakup of the nucleus of high-mass atoms and yield an energy release which is more than a millionfold greater than that obtained from chemical reactions involving the burning of a fuel. Successful control of the nuclear fission reactions utilizes this intensive source of energy.

Fission reactions provide intensive sources of energy. For example, the fissioning of an atom of uranium yields about 200 MeV, whereas the oxidation of an atom of carbon releases only 4 eV. On a weight basis, this 50 × 106 energy ratio becomes about 2.5 × 106. Uranium consists of several isotopes, only 0.7% of which is uranium-235, the fissile fuel currently used in reactors. Even with these considerations, including the need to enrich the fuel to several percent uranium-235, the fission reactions are attractive energy sources when coupled with abundant and relatively cheap uranium ore.

Although the main process of nuclear power is the release of energy in the fission process which occurs in the reactor, there are a number of other important processes, such as mining and waste disposal, which both precede and follow fission. Together they constitute the nuclear fuel cycle. See Nuclear fuel cycle

Power reactors include light-water-moderated and -cooled reactors (LWRs), including the pressurized-water reactor (PWR) and the boiling-water reactor (BWR). The high-temperature gas-cooled reactor (HTGR), and the liquid-metal-cooled fast breeder reactor (LMFBR) have reached a high level of development but are not used for commercial purposes. See Nuclear reactor

Critics of nuclear power consider the radioactive wastes generated by the nuclear industry to be too great a burden for society to bear. They argue that since the high-level wastes will contain highly toxic materials with long half-lives, such as a few tenths of one percent of plutonium that was in the irradiated fuel, the safekeeping of these materials must be assured for time periods longer than social orders have existed in the past. Nuclear proponents answer that the time required for isolation is much shorter, since only 500 to 1000 years is needed before the hazard posed by nuclear waste falls below that posed by common natural ore deposits in the environment. See Radioactive waste management

Nuclear power facilities present a potential hazard rarely encounted with other facilities; that is, radiation. A major health hazard would result if, for instance, a significant fraction of the core inventory of a power reactor were released to the atmosphere. Such a release of radioactivity is clearly unacceptable, and steps are taken to assure it could never happen. These include use of engineered safety systems, various construction and design codes, regulations on reactor operation, and periodic maintenance and inspection.

References in periodicals archive ?
Gerald Mosse was always travelling strongly up the straight on Nuclear Debate who had only managed one previous win at yesterday's six-furlong trip and they came home three lengths clear of Mount Abu, with outsider Monkston Point back in third.
Roberts revealed that he was confident that Cassandra Go would confirm her Sandown win over Nuclear Debate.
Tote opened their book with 3 Nuclear Debate, 6 Danehurst, 8 Dietrich, 9 Cassandra Go, 10 Kier Park, Tamarisk, 11 Bertolini, 12 Astonished, 14 bar.
He was then denied a clear passage on Nuclear Debate in the Temple Stakes after switching the joint-favourite to the centre of the course.
Stravinsky (1999), Nuclear Debate (2000), Mozart (2001), Kyllachy (2002), Oasis Dream (2003).
This year's race promises to be a top class event featuring among others last year's winner Pipalong, the Classicplaced Minardi and top class French challenger Nuclear Debate.
The John Hammond-trained Nuclear Debate, runner-up to Mozart in the Victor Chandler Nunthorpe Stakes at York, is the sole French representative.
THE sirens were whining at Coral Eurobet HQ yesterday as they were attacked by huge professional support for Nuclear Debate in next week's Kings Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot.
Cassandra Go gave the Newmarket trainer his 13th winner of the season when, despite the saddle slipping, Michael Roberts pushed his mount out to score from Vision Of Night and Nuclear debate.
His defeat of Nuclear Debate at the St Leger meeting in September 1998 was one of four successes for the Barry Hills-trained sprinter that year.
JAPAN'S NUCLEAR DEBATE (IHT/Asahi as translated from the Japanese-language Asahi Shimbun's editorial published Oct.
The Ramsdens might have been living in France until recently, but they were still involved with more than the odd big winner back home, such as sprinters Astonished and Nuclear Debate plus Tornado Prince, who ran away with a big handicap at Ascot in the autumn.

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