WHAT is Going on?!


Animated of nuclear fission
Animated of nuclear fission

The Reaction

Nuclear fission is the name of the reaction you're seeing next to the description. What's going on? That blue, singular circle moving across the picture is a neutron. That neutron hits the uranium atom and splits it into the fission products, the wanted energy, and lonely neutrons that couldn't make it into the product. Uranium has undergone this process since the earth was created whether it was meant purposely or not. However, like all elements, uranium has isotopes; uranium-235 is the specific isotope which is vital to the nuclear power and the plants. And like all things, it begins to decay. Then once the atom starts to decay, both the split and the products release radiation of their own. The split gives off gamma radiation and the heat while the products either give off beta or gamma radiation. Now, you can see what happens in the plant and how it all comes together ... without the chemistry lesson.


Layout of plant
Layout of plant



The Plant: Inside and Outside

The inside of the plant holds all of the action. To the left is a diagram labeling a basic, normal structure of a nuclear power plant. Once there is a sample of uranium, the pellets that it is divided (into 2.5 cm), they are placed into the rods (K). The rods are then put into the water that is in a pressure vessel. The uranium eventually melts, but to avoid overheating, controls rods (B) help keep the nuclear reactions under control. And also to reduce heat, these rods are placed into the uranium bundle, which heats the water to turn into steam. Then comes electricity!

Outside
npp-Fukushima.jpg
Fukushima Power Plant, Japan
is not a really glamorous picture; some even say that the outsides of a nuclear power plant and coal- or oil-fired factory are practically identical. The only difference between them was the fact that the nuclear power plant has the reactor. There are two-three layers of concrete and steel in the power plant to not only contain the vessels and equipment, but to help stop any leeks of liquid or gas from the plant. The layers go concrete, steel, concrete. The final concrete layer outside of the steel layer to keep the plant safe and stable "through earthquakes or a crashing jet airliner" (3).

Now...continuing on...

Types of Nuclear Power Plants
In the Future - What Will Nuclear Power Become?
Did You Know...?

Bibliography (2)

  1. Brain, Marshall, and Robert Lamb. “HowStuffWorks ‘Nuclear Fission: The Heart of the Reactor’” HowStuffWorks - Learn How Everything Works! Mar. 2011. Web. 12 Apr. 2011.
  2. Brain, Marshall, and Robert Lamb. “HowStuffWorks ‘Inside of a Nuclear Plant’” HowStuffWorks - Learn How Everything Works! Mar. 2011. Web. 12 Apr. 2011.
  3. Brain, Marshall, and Robert Lamb. “HowStuffWorks ‘Outside of a Nuclear Plant’” HowStuffWorks - Learn How Everything Works! Mar. 2011. Web. 12 Apr. 2011.
  4. Sandra. “Fukushima-1 Nuclear Power Plant Will Lay a Special Cover.” News. Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant. 30 Mar. 2011. Web. 26 Apr. 2011.