Nuclear Power Plant Isar, Germany

Spent nuclear fuel pool

Turbine of a nuclear plant

Neutron

Neutron

Neutron

A neutron is a subatomic particle that is part of the atom (along with the proton and the electron). Neutrons and protons form the atomic nucleus. Neutrons have no net electric charge, unlike the proton that has a positive electric charge.

The difference in the number of neutrons in the nucleus of an atom does not imply the variation of the nature of the atom itself, but it does determine the isotope to which it is a part.

In nuclear energy the concept "uranium enrichment" refers to the alteration of the number of neutrons in the atomic nucleus in order to obtain another…

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Neutron moderator

Neutron moderator

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

During fission nuclear reactions, neutrons collide with fissile atoms (uranium and plutonium) present in the nuclear fuel causing fission. With each fission reaction, one or two neutrons are released at high speed.

The objective to maintain a chain fission reaction is that these neutrons hit other fissile atoms but at such a speed it is very difficult. The objective of…

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Nuclear Fission

Nuclear Fission

Nuclear fission is the physical-chemical reaction through which the nucleus of an atom is split. In the main interest of the fission reactions is that by this operation a large amount of energy is obtained. Nuclear energy is the energy contained in the nucleus of an atom and the energy that is obtained is thermal energy, energy in the form of heat.

The other form of exploitation is through nuclear fusion reactions. In this case, the process is inverse, fusing two different nuclei forming a single atomic nucleus.

After the fission of the atomic nucleus we obtain…

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Nuclear Reactor

Nuclear Reactor

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

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

To build a nuclear reactor it is necessary to have enough nuclear fuel, which we call critical mass. Having enough critical mass means having enough fissile…

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Structure Of The Atom

Structure Of The Atom

The basis of everything related to nuclear energy lies in the atom, since nuclear technology is based on the use of the internal energy contained in atoms. For this reason, to understand how nuclear reactions occur (nuclear fission or nuclear fusion) it is useful to understand how an atom is structured.

An atom is the smallest constituent unit of ordinary matter that has the properties of a chemical element.

The atom is composed of a nucleus and one or more electrons linked to the nucleus. The nucleus is made of one or more protons and, typically, a similar number of…

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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…

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Enriched uranium

Enriched uranium

Enriched uranium is uranium that has gone through a technological process to increase the proportion of the uranium-235 isotope. As a result, natural uranium is divided into enriched uranium and depleted uranium.

Natural uranium contains three isotopes of uranium: uranium-238 (99.2745%), uranium-235 (0.72%) and uranium-234 (0.0055%). The isotope uranium-238 is a relatively stable isotope, incapable of an independent nuclear chain reaction, unlike the rare uranium-235. Currently, uranium-235 is the main fissile material in the chain reactions of nuclear…

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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…

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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…

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Atomic nucleus

Atomic nucleus

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

The main subatomic particles of the nuclei of atoms are protons and neutrons or nucleons (except that of ordinary or own hydrogen, which contains only one proton). The same chemical element is characterized by the number of protons in the nucleus that…

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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…

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Pressurized Water Reactors (PWR)

Pressurized Water Reactors (PWR)

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…

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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.

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Beta Particle

Beta Particle

A beta particle (β) is an electron that shoots out of a radioactive event.

By the law of Fajans, if an atom emits a beta particle, its electric charge increases by a positive unit and the atomic mass number does not change. This is because the mass or mass number only represents the number of protons and neutrons, which in this case the total number is not affected, since a neutron "loses" an electron, but becomes a proton, ie , a neutron becomes a proton and therefore the total number of atomic mass (protons plus neutrons) does not vary.

The interaction of beta particles…

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Nuclear reactor coolant

Nuclear reactor coolant

A coolant in a nuclear reactor is a liquid or gaseous substance that passes through the reactor core and removes heat from the nuclear fission reaction.

In the double-circuit power reactors, the reactor coolant enters the steam generator, which produces steam that drives the turbines, and in the single-circuit reactors the coolant (steam or gas) can serve as the working fluid of the cycle of the turbine. In research (for example, materials science) and special reactors (for example, in reactors for the accumulation of radioactive isotopes) the coolant only cools the reactor, the…

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Types Of Nuclear Reactors

Types Of Nuclear Reactors

Nuclear reactors can be classified according to different criteria. One of the criteria is the purpose for which they will be used. In this regard we distinguish the types of nuclear reactors used for civilian purposes, for military purposes or for research purposes.

Civil nuclear reactors use nuclear energy to generate power for electricity; military reactors create materials that can be used in nuclear weapons such as the atomic bomb; and research nuclear reactors used to develop weapons or energy production technology, for development purposes, for nuclear physics…

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Accident in Tokaimura Nuclear Fuel Treatment Plant

Accident in Tokaimura Nuclear Fuel Treatment Plant

The uranium fuel treatment facility is located in Tokaimura (Japan), 120km northeast of Tokyo, in the Ibaraki Prefecture. It is currently owned by the company JCO.

The nuclear accident of the installation took place on September 30, 1999, in the conversion building of the nuclear plant.

The installation consists of three auxiliary uranium conversion buildings:

  • One with an annual capacity of 220 tons of uranium per year for low enrichment (approximately 5%).
  • Another with…

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Radioactivity

Radioactivity

We define radioactivity as the spontaneous emission of particles (alpha particles, beta particles, neutrons) or radiations (range, K capture), or both at the same time, coming from the disintegration of certain nuclides that form them, due to an arrangement in its internal structure.

Radioactive decay occurs in unstable atomic nuclei, that is, those that do not have enough binding energy to keep the nucleus together due to an excess of protons or neutrons.

Radioactivity can be natural or artificial. In natural radioactivity, the substance already has it in the natural state. In…

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What is Nuclear Energy?

What is Nuclear Energy?

What is nuclear energy? Nuclear energy is the internal energy in the atomic nucleus, that is, the central part of an atom. Atoms are the smallest particles in which a material can be divided. The nucleus of an atom is composed of two subparticles: neutrons and protons. These subparticles are held together due to energy links. At the moment in which these bonds are modified, a large amount of thermal energy is released in the form of heat.

Nuclear technology deals with the use of this internal energy for a wide variety of applications. The most well-known…

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Boiling Water Reactor (BWR)

Boiling Water Reactor (BWR)

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…

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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

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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…

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