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]
(nucleonics)
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 ?
Nuclear waste has been building at nuclear power facilities throughout the United States, which has continued to generate nuclear power without any plan for permanent disposal of waste.
The level of sophistication and reliability these sensors offer will greatly enhance the safety of any industrial process using hydrogen - from protecting semiconductor and refinery processes to the detection of hydrogen gas leaks in nuclear power facilities,'' he said.
The agreed framework commits Pyongyang to suspend and eventually dismantle its weapons-grade nuclear power facilities in exchange for the two reactors and a stopgap supply of fuel oil.
As EQE, the owner of Eqecat, we provide consulting services to all the industries that insurance companies write-policies to--the oil and gas industry, chemical industry, transportation, Fortune 1000 companies, the government, research institutions and commercial nuclear power facilities worldwide," he said.
4 billion in revenue last year--CBS pursued flight-of-fancy acquisitions, including nuclear power facilities.
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Companies which run nuclear power facilities are required by the 1961 Atomic Energy Damage Compensation Law to take out insurance policies to compensate for any damage resulting from nuclear-related accidents.
The accord commits North Korea to freezing and eventually dismantling its weapons-grade nuclear power facilities in exchange for two light-water reactors and a stopgap supply of fuel oil until one of the reactors begins operations.
Even though the fuel would be cheap, nuclear power facilities are tremendously more expensive to build than those using fossil fuels.
Demand and market value forecasts for the CRA units used in commercial nuclear power facilities across the world are also examined in the report.
The R&D that has underpinned the industry has mainly been conducted at universities, and is particularly strong in basic research fields such as materials and analytical measurement, as well as decommissioning techniques, including the disposal of waste, since there is a large number of ageing nuclear power facilities in the UK.
If a highly developed country like Japan could experience a disaster as serious as the 2011 meltdown at Fukushima, how can sub-Saharan African countries -- which have less budgetary freedom and comparatively poor records when it comes to maintenance, regulation and overall stability -- hope to operate nuclear power facilities safely?

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