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 ?
The Iranian atomic official said in early March that practical measures are underway for the start of the construction of two nuclear power plants for Iran according to a recent deal signed by the two countries' top nuclear officials.
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ASTANA (CyHAN)- Kazakhstan will build nuclear power plant in at least 12 years, Kazakh energy ministry told Trend.
The primary sources include industry experts, manufacturers, and service providers from theindustry and theyhave all been interviewed to obtain and verify critical information as well as to assess future prospects of the nuclear power plant and equipment market.
An area close to the Ulken village on the shores of Balkhash is the most favorable place to accommodate a nuclear power plant as it is located in an area of power shortages and at the same time has an extended grid to transmit the power to other places", Mr.
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The senior Russian nuclear official underlined that Rosatom is ready to sign an agreement with the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) on building the new nuclear power plants.
Nuclear power plants produce a large amount of electricity in a relatively small space, they require ominously less land for operation than all other energy sources.
If the plant is working and something happens to the reactor, probably, what happened to the nuclear power plants in Fukushima will happen in the Philippines," echoed Maya Ando, 16.
However, we are determined to have nuclear power plants.

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