How does nuclear energy work – Overview
How Does Nuclear Power Work. The fission of atomic particles in radioactive matter such as uranium creates an energy called nuclear energy. The energy released by the fission on the particles is fed into various turbines to produce electricity.
The fission can be defined as the process of splitting one single atomic particle. The fission happens by bombarding one single atomic with neutrons from some source. The breaking apart process of one single atomic will create massive amount of energy. Meanwhile, the fusion is the process of combining molecules into another core substance.
A specialized plant that utilized radioactive material such as uranium to generated electricity by forcing the heat and energy discharge into turbine called nuclear reactor. Nuclear reactors are similar to other power plants because they produce electricity. The differences come from the base material for their fuel.
Uranium 235, uranium 238 and plutonium 239 are the primary fuel source for nuclear reactors. The only natural occurring substance from these three sources is uranium 235. Meanwhile, both of uranium 238 and plutonium 239 are isotopes or variations of the mineral. An isotope is defined as a molecular compound that has some slight difference in its basic atomic element. This means, the amount of electrons or neutrons in its nucleus can be more or less than the basic of its atomic element. These isotopes can be useful in generating amounts of energy.
These three different compounds are highly fissionable and therefore produce greatest amount of energy with least amount of input. Because of that they are used as fuel sources for nuclear reactor.
The uranium 238 is the most difficult fuel for nuclear power plants to utilize of these three. However, new “fast breeder reactors” have the ability to utilize this more effectively due to their ability to bombard uranium fuel rods with a high-speed neutrons in order to split and penetrate uranium 238 nuclei. Naturally 99.3% of uranium mined is uranium 238 this makes the newer “fast breeder reactors” up to 60 times more efficient than the older nuclear power plants.
The uranium must be mined, rolled into pellets and then processed into rods. The rod is inserted into the core of a nuclear power plant. During the bombardment process, the rods allow for the most efficient utilization of the uranium to create fission within each molecule. The energy which is produced then transfer into the turbines for processing into usable energy.
The byproduct of the nuclear reactions is both depleted uranium that no longer contains useful fissionable material and some radioactive substances that are the result of the processing of the neutrons in the process of energy production and the development of the variations of base materials that come about from the process of fission. The products are typically more common in older nuclear reactors which are less efficient in processing the uranium and produce greater waste over reactors such as the “fast breeder reactor” mentioned above that have the ability to bombard material with neutrons at a greater rate and thus will more efficiently utilize a fuel.