According to Sandra Alters, nuclear reactors work like this: Fuel rods, made of zirconium, with pellets of fissionable fuel (uranium in the US) are assembled into bundles in the core of the reactor. They are surrounded by control rods, made of iron, cadmium, indium or silver, which absorb or capture neutrons to slow the reaction. Neutron moderation is also important because neutrons have to be slowed so that the atomic nucleus can capture them. By the process of fission, or splitting of the uranium nucleus into smaller fragments by bombarding with neutrons, heat is produced. In a Pressurized Water Reactor (PWR) this heat circulates in a pool of radioactive water, which transfers its heat to a second pool of water that produces steam, which runs through a turbine and turns the generator, turning mechanical energy into electrical energy. Uranium-235 is the ideal fuel, because it is readily available and reactions with it release neutrons that continue the change reaction. However, Uranium straight from the ground is 98% Uranium-238, which much be enriched to at least 5% Uranium-235 for fission to occur. Further challenges include maintaining a critical mass, or the amount of fissionable required...
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...ear power needs to be rethought.
Alters, Sandra M. (2009). Nuclear Energy. Opposing Viewpoints in Context.
Canadian Nuclear Association. (2012). Nuclear Facts- Is nuclear energy a good choice for the
environment? Retrieved from http://www.cna.ca/nuclear_facts/nuclear_environment/
Environmental Protection Agency (n.d.) Gamma Rays. Retrieved from http://www.epa.
Freudenrich, Craig. (n.d.) How Nuclear Fusion Reactors Work. Retrieved from http://science
Greenpeace. (n.d.) Radioactive Waste. Retrieved from http://www.greenpeace.org
Pressurized Water Reactor [Online image]. Retrieved January 20, 2014 from http://www.nrc.
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