Fission And Nuclear Reactions

Satisfactory Essays
Nuclear reactions are one of the most efficient and clean ways to produce electricity. In 2012 alone, nuclear reactors produced 13% of the world's electricity. Nuclear reactors are the structures that contain this immense reaction. They are billion dollar structures and have to made just right for them to work. If they work though, the energy output is enormous. To understand how nuclear reactors are made, you have to understand how nuclear reactions works and what makes them go.
There are two types of nuclear reactions, fusion and fission. Fusion is what takes place in our sun. It is when two particles fuse together to create a larger one. It produces so much heat an energy though, that we have no way to contain it. Fission on the other hand, does not produce as much heat. We are able to contain it with materials that we currently have. This explains why we use fission in our nuclear reactors and not fusion.
Fission, at its most simplest, is the splitting of a particle. Now, this happens every day with certain elements, and we don’t really notice. It is a type of radioactive decay. This usually only happens with heavy elements though. They are so heavy that the concentration of them on earth is so small that it has no effect on us. When you hear of Uranium being radioactive, this is what they are talking about. This is what is picked up by a Geiger counter.
Now we can’t just let that type of fission happen and expect there is be a substantial energy output. Certainly not one that produces 13% of the world's electricity. So, what we do is we give the reaction a little "kick". This is called induced fission. What happens is we start the reaction by bombarding neutrons into the fissionable material. They material then splits...

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...with a moderator that keeps the reaction stable. The rods are then lowered into the coolant. When the reaction takes place, it produces an enormous amount of heat. That heat is used to produce steam and them pressurize it in the same container. The steam then escapes to the turbine.
There is one slight variation that is in use. It was originally designed to be used at naval institutions and on submarines. This version is called a Pressurized Water Reactor (PWR). It is also called a WER in Russia. In this version, water is still used as a coolant and a moderator. Water is pumped around the fuel rods under extreme pressure. This water is then run through cooling circuits which transfer the heat from the original water to the water that actually evaporates ant turns to steam. It then works like any other reactor and has the steam spin a turbine which produces power.
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