Nuclear power plant


Nuclear power plant

A generating station in which nuclear energy is converted into electrical energy is known as a nuclear power Plant.

In nuclear power Plant, electrical power is generated by nuclear reaction.heavy radioactive elements as Uranium (U235) or Thorium (Th232) are used for generating the electrical energy.

Nuclear power plants use the heat generated from nuclear fission in a contained environment to convert water to steam, which powers generators to produce electricity. The difference is the source of heat. At nuclear power plants, the heat to make the steam is created when uranium atoms split is called fission process. There is no combustion in a nuclear reactor.

The most important feature of a nuclear power station is that huge amount of electrical energy can be produced from a relatively small amount of nuclear fuel as compared to other conventional types of power stations. nuclear energy can be successfully employed for producing low cost electrical energy on a large scale to meet the growing commercial and industrial demands.

Nuclear power plants operate in most states in the country and produce about 20 percent of the nation’s power. Nearly 3 million Americans live within 10 miles of an operating nuclear power plant.

Schematic Arrangement of Nuclear Power Plant

nuclear power plant

  • Nuclear reactor

It is an apparatus in which nuclear fuel (U235) is subjected to nuclear fission. It controls the chain reaction that starts once the fission is done. If the chain reaction is not controlled, the result will be an explosion due to the fast increase in the energy released.

A nuclear reactor is a cylindrical vessel and houses fuel rods of Uranium, moderator and control rods. The moderator consists of graphite rods which enclose the fuel rods. The fuel rods constitute the fission material and release huge amount of energy when bombarded with slow neutrons. The moderator slows down the neutrons before they bombard the fuel rods.

The control rods are made of cadmium and inserted into the reactor. Cadmium is strong neutron absorbed and thus regulates the supply of neutrons for fission. When the control rods are pushed in deep enough, they absorb most of fission neutrons and hence few are available for chain reaction. because of these fission process chain reaction is increased.

Therefore, by pulling out and pushing in  the control rods, power of the nuclear reactor is increased and decrease respectively. so In actual practice, the lowering or raising of control rods is accomplished automatically according to the requirement of load. The heat produced in the reactor is removed by the coolant, generally a sodium metal. The coolant carries the heat to the heat exchanger.

  • Heat exchanger

Water is pumped through the reactor to collect the heat energy that the chain reaction produces. It constantly flows around a closed loop linking the reactor with a heat exchanger. the heat carried by sodium metal, is dissipated in water. water is converted to high pressure steam. After releasing heat in water the sodium metal coolant comes back to the reactor by means of coolant circulating pump.

  • Steam turbine

Turbine are use to convert kinetic energy into mechanical energy. The steam produced in the heat exchanger is led to the steam turbine through a valve.  Turbine is connected to alternator which is convert mechanical energy into electrical energy. After doing a useful work in the turbine, the steam is exhausted to condenser. The condenser condenses the steam which is fed to the heat exchanger through feed water pump.

  • Alternator

Alternator is convert mechanical energy into electrical energy. Which is driven by steam turbine. The output from the alternator is delivered to the bus-bars, through transmission line and transformer.


  1. A nuclear power station occupies much smaller space compared to other conventional power station of same capacity.
  2. It has low running charges as a small amount of fuel is used for producing bulk electrical energy.
  3. This type of plant is very economical for producing bulk electric power. because of the amount of fuel required is quite small. Therefore, there is a considerable saving in the cost of fuel transportation.
  4. its operation is reliable.


  1. The fuel is not easily recover and it is very expensive.
  2. By fission process high radioactive pollution occur in nature. which is harmful.
  3. The capital cost on a nuclear plant is very high as compared to other types of power plants.
  4. The maintenance cost is higher and difficult. Hence, skilled workers are required.


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