The basic principle of a nuclear power station is similar to a conventional thermal power station. The only difference is that instead of using the heat produced due to the combustion of coal, here at the nuclear power plant, the heat generated due to nuclear fission is used to produce steam from the water in the boiler. This steam is used to run a steam turbine. This turbine is the main proponent of the alternator. This alternator generates electrical energy. Although the availability of nuclear fuel is not very high, very small amounts of nuclear fuel can generate a large amount of energy.
This is a unique feature of the nuclear power plant. One kilogram of uranium is equivalent to 4500 metric tonnes of high-grade coal. This means that the complete decomposition of 1 kg uranium can produce as much heat as 4500 MT can be produced by full combustion of high-grade coal.
This is the reason, although nuclear fuel is very expensive, nuclear power per unit electrical energy is still lower than the cost of energy generated through other fuels such as coal and diesel. To meet the traditional fuel crisis in the present age, nuclear power stations can be the most suitable choice.
Benefits of Atomic Energy Station
As we said, fuel consumption in this power station is quite low and therefore, the cost of generating a unit of energy is much less compared to other conventional power generation methods. The amount of required nuclear fuel is also low.
A nuclear power station occupies very little space compared to other conventional power stations of the same capacity.
This station does not require much water, so it is not necessary to build the plant near the natural source of water. There is no need for heavy fuel; Therefore it is not necessary to build coal at the place of mine, or at the place where good transport facilities are available. Because of this, nuclear power stations can be installed very close to the load centre.
Worldwide, there are large quantities of nuclear fuels, so, such plants can ensure a continuous supply of electrical energy coming for thousands of years.
Damage to the nuclear power plant
Fuel is not easily available and it is very expensive.
The initial cost for the construction of a nuclear power station is quite high.
The construction and commissioning of this plant are very complex and sophisticated compared to other conventional power stations.
Fission sub-products are radioactive in nature and can lead to high radioactive pollution.
The cost of maintenance is high and the manpower required to run the nuclear power plant is quite high because specialist trained people are required.
The sudden fluctuation of the load cannot be accomplished efficiently by the nuclear plant.
Since the sub-products of atomic reaction are highly radioactive, this is a major problem for disposing of sub-products. It can be settled only in the sea or away from the seashore.
In the nuclear reactor, uranium 235 is subject to nuclear fission. This chain controls the reaction which starts when the fragmentation occurs. Chain reaction should be controlled otherwise the rate of release of energy will be faster, there may be a high probability of an explosion. In nuclear fission, nuclear fuel nuclei, such as U235, are bombed by the slow flux of neutrons. Due to this bombing, uranium has broken its nucleus, which causes heavy heat energy and during the breaking of the nucleus, the number of neutrons is also emitted.
These emitted neutrons are called fragmentation neutrons. These fragmentation neutrons cause further fragmentation. Further fragmentation creates more fragmentation neutrons which then accelerates the speed of fragmentation. This is the cumulative process. If the process is not controlled, then the rate of fragmentation becomes so high in a very short period, it will release such a large amount of energy, there can be a dangerous explosion. This cumulative reaction is called a chain reaction. This series reaction can only be controlled by removing fragmentation neutrons from the nuclear reactor. The speed of fragmentation can be controlled by changing the rate of deletion of fragmentation neutrons from reactors.
A nuclear reactor is a cylindrical shaped stunt pressure vessel. Fuel sticks are made of atomic fuel i.e. uranium moderate, usually made of graphite coil of fuel rods. Uranium neutron slows down neutrons before hitting the nucleus. Control rods are made of cadmium because cadmium is a strong absorber of neutrons.
Control rods are inserted in the fragmentation chamber. This cadmium can push the control rod down and pull up as per the requirement. When these rods are pushed down adequately, most rods are absorbed by these rods, so the chain reaction stops. Again, while the control rod is pulled, the availability of fragmentation neutrons increases, which increases chain reaction rates. Therefore, it is clear that by adjusting the control rod position, the rate of atomic reaction can be controlled.