Reactors Used in the United States

There are only two different types of reactors used in the United States: pressurized water reactors and boiling water reactors.

Animation of a Pressurized Water Reactor
Animation of a Pressurized Water Reactor



Pressurized Water Reactors (seen right) make up about two-thirds of the reactors in the United States. In this reactor, water is pumped into contact with the core and then kept under pressure. Keeping the water under pressure prevents in from turning into steam. That pressurized water is then brought into contact with another supply of unpressurized water. It becomes steam, which turns the turbines.


Animation of a Boiling Water Reactor
Animation of a Boiling Water Reactor




Boiling Water Reactors (seen left) make up the other third of reactors used in the United States. Boiling water reactors are similar to pressurized water reactors. In both boiling water reactors and pressurized water reactors, water is pumped into contact with the core; however, unlike pressurized water reactors, the water is not kept under pressure. In boiling water reactors, the water that comes directly into contact with the core turns to steam.






In both types of plants, the steam is turned back into water and can be used again in the process.

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Bibliography (3)

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