How nuclear power works
For easy understanding, at a basic level, nuclear power is the practice of splitting atoms to boil water, turn turbines, and generate electricity.
What is nuclear energy?
Nuclear energy provides efficient and reliable electricity worldwide. There are currently over 400 commercial nuclear reactors in operation in over 30 countries.
The usual definition of nuclear energy is the energy released by chain reactions, especially fission or fusion. In reality, nuclear energy uses fuel made from mined and processed uranium to produce steam and produce electricity. Nuclear energy is the only power source that can reliably generate a steady supply of electricity, known as baseload electricity, without emitting greenhouse gases.
Of all power sources, nuclear energy has one of the lowest environmental impacts on land and natural resources.
Principle of atomic energy
Atoms are built like miniature solar systems. The nucleus is at the center of the atom and there are electrons revolving around it.
Atomic nuclei are made up of protons and neutrons very close together. Hydrogen, the lightest element, has one proton. Uranium, the heaviest natural element, has 92 protons.
Atomic nuclei are held together by a great force called "the strongest force in the natural world." When hit by neutrons, they can split, a process called nuclear fission (pictured to the right). Because uranium atoms are so large, the atomic forces that bind them are relatively weak, making uranium suitable for nuclear fission.
In nuclear power plants, neutrons collide with uranium atoms and split them. This nuclear fission releases neutrons from the uranium, which collide with other atoms and start chain reactions. This chain reaction is controlled by "control rods" that absorb neutrons.
At the core of the reactor, nuclear fission of uranium atoms releases energy and heats water to about 520 degrees Fahrenheit. This hot water is used to spin a turbine that connects to a generator to generate electricity.
Nuclear power in the United Arab Emirates
In the United Arab Emirates, there are four nuclear reactors located at the Baraka Nuclear Power Plant in the Al Dhafra region of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi. Each reactor is designed to generate 1,400 megawatts (MW) of electricity with near-zero carbon emissions into the air. These reactors are designed to operate for at least 60 years, efficiently and reliably providing the nation with low-carbon power for future generations. When fully operational, the plant will prevent over 21 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions per year. This amounts to removing 3.2 million of his sedans from the UAE roads.
In 2016, ENEC (European Norms Electrical Certification) created the Nawah Energy Company, which is responsible for the operation and maintenance of its four reactors in Baraka. The ENEC and Nawah teams are committed to ensuring the facility meets the highest national and international quality standards and benefits from global operational experience as it prepares for the transition of the facility from a construction project to an operational facility.
How do nuclear power plants work?
A nuclear reactor, like any other power plant, produces electricity. A chain reaction creates energy that turns water into steam. Steam pressure drives a generator to generate electricity.
The difference is in the way heat is generated. Heat is generated by power plants that run on fossil fuels and burn coal, oil, or natural gas. In a nuclear power plant, heat is produced by the splitting of atoms - a process called fission.
- Reactors produce heat that is used to generate steam
- The steam spins a turbine connected to electromagnets called generators
- A generator produces electricity
In a pressurized water reactor (PWR) under construction in the United Arab Emirates, high pressure prevents water from boiling inside the reactor vessel. The superheated water is sent to a steam generator made up of many small tubes. The heat in these tubes is used to convert a second separated water supply into steam, which is used to drive a turbine. Water from the nuclear reactor is pumped back into the reactor vessel and reheated. Steam from the turbine is cooled in a condenser and the water produced is returned to the steam generator.
Enriched uranium is the fuel for nuclear reactors. Uranium is an abundant naturally occurring radioactive element found in most rocks. When uranium decays or disintegrates, heat is generated in the earth's crust. A similar process produces heat in a nuclear reactor.
The process of splitting the nucleus into two is called nuclear fission. Each uranium fuel pellet has millions of uranium nuclei. When these atomic nuclei split, a huge amount of energy is released. The largest source is kinetic energy and some of this energy comes from radiation. This is the energy that produces heat in a nuclear reactor, which is used to produce steam and ultimately electricity.
Worldwide facts about nuclear power
Nuclear energy has reliably powered the world for over 60 years. Today, in over 30 countries, he has over 400 reactors in operation.
These plants generate about 10% of the world's electricity without emitting greenhouse gases.
In particular, as the demand for electric power rises and concerns about climate change grow, more and more countries are considering the use of nuclear power.
The future of nuclear energy
A multidisciplinary group of MIT faculty members believed that the technology offered the United States and the world an important option for meeting future energy needs without emitting carbon dioxide or other air pollutants, and therefore the future of nuclear power. decided to study. Other options include increased efficiency, renewable energy, and carbon sequestration. All of which may be necessary for a successful greenhouse gas management strategy.
This study, aimed at leaders of government, industry, and academia, explores the interrelated technical, economic, environmental, and policy challenges facing a significant increase in the use of nuclear energy worldwide over the next half-century, describes what can be done to address them in order to overcome the challenges.
The extent to which nuclear power remains the United States' primary source of energy will depend on many variables, including nuclear's role in combating climate change, nuclear safety, costs, and the growth of other energy sources.
Is nuclear power still potential?
There have been many accidents related to nuclear reactors in the past that have affected prices and inflation... They called the nuclear industry "the biggest financial disaster in business history". Indeed, the industry still faces many headwinds after past nuclear disasters such as Chernobyl in 1986 and Fukushima in 2011. Major catastrophes like that must be averted as it would be a major setback for this critical tool for generating stable and scalable power with a low carbon footprint. By understanding how nuclear power works, people can better navigate it in the future.
But with the current list of nuclear power plants under construction, there is at least some hope that nuclear power can regain acceptance and increasingly contribute to stemming the rise in global carbon emissions.
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