How Nuclear Power Works & TerraPower For a Greener Future

What happens inside a nuclear power plant and how nuclear power works. Many researchers believe that harnessing the power of the atom in fission reactions is the most significant alternative energy source that we have, for the fact of the immense power that it can generate. But how does nuclear power work?

Nuclear power plants are very “clean-burning” and their efficiency is rather staggering. Nuclear power is generated at 80% efficiency, meaning that the energy produced by the fission reactions is almost equal to the energy put into producing the fission reactions in the first place. There is not a lot of waste material generated by nuclear fission—although, due to the fact that there is no such thing as creating energy without also creating some measure of waste, there is some.

how nuclear power works power plant image


Aspects pro nuclear energy: this kind of power generation does emit relatively low amounts of carbon dioxide (CO2), therefore the contribution to global warming is relatively little. While nuclear power is a non-renewable energy resource like fossil fuels, it is actually an environmentally friendly alternative energy. And the risk of contained radiation getting out is quite low.

On the other hand today’s nuclear technology is failing on cost, proliferation, waste solutions and fuel shortage.

What Is Nuclear Power.

nuclear chain reaction explainedThe splitting of an atom releases energy in the forms of both heat and light. Atomic power plants control the fission reactions so that they don’t result in the devastating explosions that are brought forth in atomic and hydrogen bombs.

There is no chance of an atomic power plant exploding like a nuclear bomb, as the specialized conditions and the pure Plutonium used to unleash an atomic bomb’s vicious force simply don’t exist inside a nuclear power plant.

How Nuclear Power Works Overview.

  • The nuclear power is an electric or motive power generated by a nuclear reactor.
  • The radioactive uranium bundle that heats water into steam, just as with conventional power stations burning fossil fuels like oil or coal to produce steam.
  • The resulting kinetic energy in the expanding steam spins turbines, just as with power stations burning fossil fuels.
  • The spinning turbine drives generators to produce electricity.
  • Find the full details here:

how nuclear power plant generates energy

A typical nuclear power plant generates 20 metric tons of spent nuclear fuel per year, and as radioactive waste is dangerous for as long as 200,000 years, it has to be well isolated and guarded in every country that operates nuclear power facilities. The safe storage in fact is a worldwide problem that needs to be addressed.

The risk of a “meltdown” is very low. Although this latter event has happened a couple of times, when one considers that there are over 430 nuclear reactors spread out across 33 nations, with 61 nuclear power plants in the US, and that nuclear reactors have been in use since the early 1950s, these are rare occurrences

The events of that nature which have taken place were the fault of outdated materials which should have been properly kept up. Indeed, if nuclear energy could become a more widely accepted form of alternative energy, there would be little question of their upkeep being maintained.

Nuclear energy in the U.S.: currently, six states generate more than half of all their electrical energy needs through nuclear power, and the media are not filled with gruesome horror stories of the power plants constantly having problems.

New solutions to nuclear waste are at our doorstep.

What if there are positive steps toward solving the nuclear waste disposal already? Because used uranium fuel assemblies from nuclear power plants still have 90 percent of the original potential energy, using today’s nuclear waste is the energy of the future.

Terrapower – The Traveling Wave Reactor by Bill Gates.

TerraPower (Bill Gates’ nuclear start-up company) invented a type of nuclear reactor (so-called Travelling Wave Reactor or TWR) which uses spent nuclear fuel to produce energy. How nuclear power works in a TWR: In the beginning a small amount of enriched uranium is needed to get the process started, but they would run on nuclear waste, making and consuming their own supply. In theory, these nuclear plants could run for decades without re-fuelling, making them a cheaper and safer than existing reactors.

At the moment TerraPower manufactured its first full-size test assembly for the TWR, is running fuel sample testing and simulations, while analyzing results from its first irradiation experiments.

There are speculations that the first 600 MWe reactor of this kind is going to be built in China’s Fujian province by the end of 2017.

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