With nuclear power being talked about more these days as an alternative energy source over concerns for CO2 emissions, let’s familiarize ourselves a bit better with it.
A nuclear power plant is a power station which uses the heat from a nuclear reactor to generate steam which is harnessed through the use of a steam turbine to produce electricity. The first operational nuclear power station was erected in Tennessee in 1948 and was modestly used to power a light bulb. By the mid-1950s the model was being set up to operate an entire power grid, first tested in Obninsk, Russia in 1954. By the end of the 1950s nuclear power plants were appearing around the globe, such as that in Shippingport, England and Cedar Hall, United States.
Deriving Power Through Fission
A fully operational nuclear power plant is composed of many parts which work in conjunction to produce the energy required from the use of steam. Steam is generated by the pressurized water reactor, where the process of fission heats the reactor coolant, which is typically water but can also be gas or certain other liquids, including liquefied metals. Perfectly heated, the coolant is directed into the steam generator where the steam released is pressurized and sent to a multi-stage steam turbine. The water in the steam generator is properly maintained by a feedwater pump, which also increases the pressure of the steam. In the steam turbine, the steam is expanded and condensed to remove the most energy derived from the earlier nuclear fission procedure, which will next go to the electrical generator. The process begins again with the remainder of the water and vapor that remains, being sent through a condenser to a source of output such as a cooling tower or river.
At the heart of the operation is the nuclear reactor, in which the catalyst of the whole process occurs through the process of nuclear fission. Most often, looking into the center of the nuclear reactor will reveal uranium, used because of its nature as a fissile material.
The major down side to the process is that since nuclear fission creates radioactivity, the reactor core must be encased with shielding to absorb it and hinder It from escaping into the environment. The area around the steam generator is usually overseen extensively from the control room from activity meters placed in the section should any radioactive material seek to leak into earlier stages. Safety valves help to control the pressure and can give an alert before any pipes are burst or an explosion in the reactor can occur. Another consideration in the event of an emergency is the securing of the power of supply running the plant, typically by requiring two distinct sources of power, such as station service transformers, which are physically separated. In the case of failure of such an offsite system of redundancy, most nuclear power stations are equipped to run from an internal emergency power source.
NOC Furniture for the System Operator
The system operator can usually be found in the station’s NOC (network operations center, where he or she can oversee the entire operation through an array of sensors and alarms built into the room’s noc furniture and make decisions about the proper functioning of the system. Through logs of the data fed into the NOC, the systems operator can evaluate whether any problems exist in the equipment and decide on the proper approach to create a remedy. System operators also maintain command over all of the onsite personnel, especially during crucial and potentially hazardous times such as when repairs must be made to the equipment.
Nuclear Power Comeback