Nuclear Power Plant Isar, Germany

Spent nuclear fuel pool

Turbine of a nuclear plant

Neutron

Nuclear fission

Nuclear fission

We can obtain energy manipulating one or several nuclei of atoms throught two different methods: attaching the cores from different atoms (the nuclear fusion) or splitting a given atom nuclei (the nuclear fission).

In nuclear energy, nuclear fission is the action through which the nucleus of an atom is divided. The core forms different fragments with a mass equivalent to half of the original mass and two or three neutrons.

The total mass of the fragments is smaller than the original…

Nuclear reactor

Nuclear reactor

A nuclear reactor is an installation capable of initiating, controlling and maintaining nuclear reactions (usually nuclear fission) chain that occur in the core of this facility.

The composition of the nuclear reactor is formed by the nuclear fuel, coolant, control elements, structural materials and, in the case in question a thermal nuclear reactor, the moderator.

Nuclear reactors can be classified as thermal reactors and fast reactors.

Thermal reactors are those which function by delaying (moderating) the fastest neutrons or increasing the proportion of fissile atoms.…

Uranium - nuclear fuel

Uranium - nuclear fuel

Uranium is the most commonly used nuclear fuel in nuclear fission reactions. It is a natural element that can be found in nature. However, in order to be able to use uranium in a nuclear reactor it must undergo some treatment.

To know the peculiarities that make uranium so different from the other substances we must first consider some basic nuclear physics.

Basic physical considerations of uranium

An atom of a nucleus and electrons surrounding this nucleus. In turn, a nucleus consists of protons and neutrons. A proton has a positive charge. A neutron has no electric charge…

Nuclear fusion

Nuclear fusion

Nuclear fusion is a nuclear reaction through which two light nuclei of atoms, usually hydrogen and its isotopes (deuterium and tritium), are combined forming a heavier nucleus. This binding is usually accompanied by the emission of particles (in case of deuterium nuclei one neutron is emitted). This nuclear fusion reaction releases or absorbs a lot of energy in the form of gamma rays and kinetic energy of the emitted particles.This large amount of energy transforms matter to a plasma state.

The nuclear fusion reactions can emit or absorb…

Neutron. What is it?

Neutron. What is it?

A neutron is a subatomic particle contained in the atomic nucleus. It has no net electric charge, unlike the proton that has a positive electric charge. The number of neutrons in the atomic nucleus of an element determines the isotope to which it is a part.

Discovery of the neutron

The first clue to the existence of the neutron occurred in 1930, when Walther Bothe and Becker, H. found that when alpha radiation fell on elements such as lithium and boron, a new form of radiation was emitted.

Initially, this radiation was believed to be a type of gamma radiation, but it was…

Nuclear Power Plant

Nuclear Power Plant

A nuclear power plant is a facility for obtaining electrical energy using nuclear energy.

Its operation is similar to that of a thermal power plant or that of a solar thermal plant: from a source of energy thermodynamics is used to obtain heat, with the heat to get steam and with the steam to drive a turbine that will generate electricity.

The difference between the different types of electrical installations is in the energy source: a nuclear power plant uses the heat released in the nuclear fission reactions of certain atoms, in a thermal power station the heat source (thermal…

Neutron moderator definition

Neutron moderator is a component part of the nuclear reactors. It is located in the reactor core. The function of the moderator is to reduce the speed of the neutrons in a nuclear fission reaction.

During nuclear reactions fission neutrons collide with fissile atoms (

Atomic theory

Atomic theory

In physics and chemistry, the atomic theory is a scientific theory of the nature of matter, which states that matter is composed of units called atoms. Atomic theory began as a philosophical concept in ancient Greece and entered the mainstream of the nineteenth century when discoveries in the field of chemistry showed that matter really behaves as if it were an atom.

The word atom originates in the atomic adjective of the ancient Greek, which means "indivisible". As explained in the history of nuclear energy. Nineteenth-century chemists began to use the term in relation to the growing…

Pressurized Water Reactors

Pressurized Water Reactors

The pressurized water nuclear reactor is the type of nuclear reactor more used worldwide in the nuclear power plants of generation of electricity. At present, there are more than 230 nuclear reactors in the world made with the pressurized water system. Also known by its abbreviations PW. Its main feature is the use of water under high pressure in the primary circuit to prevent it from boiling.

Within the naval engineering the pressurized water nuclear reactor (PWR) is widely used. In fact, this model was originally designed to be used on a nuclear submarine.

Pressurized water…

History of nuclear energy

History of nuclear energy

To explain the history of nuclear energy we could distinguish three major stages:

  • Physical and chemical scientific studies of the elements.
  • The development of the nuclear bomb during World War II.
  • Use of nuclear energy in the civil field.

Scientific studies cover this whole period since the first Greek philosophers began to define atoms, until the development of the first nuclear bomb. In this process, different scientists discover the presence of electrons, neutrons and protons and properties that make one atom more radioactive than another.

Atomic nucleus - Definition and properties

Atomic nucleus - Definition and properties

The atomic nucleus is the small central part of the atom, with a positive electric charge and in which most of the mass of the atom is concentrated. Ernest Ruthenford discovered it in 1911. After the discovery of the neutron, in 1932, the atomic nucleus model was quickly developed by Dmitri Ivanenko and Werner Heisenberg.

The major subatomic particles in the nuclei of atoms are protons and neutrons or nucleons (except ordinary hydrogen, which contains only one proton). A single chemical element is characterized by the number of protons in the nucleus that determines the total positive…

Boiling water nuclear reactor

Boiling water nuclear reactor

A boiling water reactor or BWR is a type of nuclear reactor. It is the second type of reactor most used in nuclear power plants in the world. Approximately 22% of the nuclear reactors installed in the different nuclear power plants use the boiling water reactor.

The main function of this type of reactors is their installation in power plants of power for the generation of electricity.

The most important feature of the boiling water reactor (BWR) is the use of pressurized water as a neutron moderator and as a core coolant. Unlike the pressurized water reactor (PWR), it does not…

Control rods definition

Control rods definition

The control rods of nuclear reactors provide speed control nuclear fission reactions delas chain. It is cylindrical tubes made of a neutron absorbing material. This material may be boron carbide or alloys of silver, indium and cadmium.

Dimensions of the control rods are the same as those of the rods of nuclear fuel. They are used to provide a rapid means of control of the nuclear reaction.

The control rods to regulate the rate of nuclear reaction

Plutonium

Plutonium

Plutonium is a chemical element with symbol Pu and atomic number 94 which belongs to the actinide series of elements. Plutonium has 16 isotopes, all radioactive. The element is a silvery metal and has 5 different crystal structures.

Chemically plutonium is a very active material. You can form compounds with all nonmetals except the noble gases. The metal dissolves in acidic and reacts with water, but only moderately in comparison with the acid.

While you can find traces in nature, all isotopes of plutonium are of artificial origin.

Radioactivity plutonium

The more…