What is Nuclear Power ? Nuclear Power Definition and its Uses

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What is Nuclear Power and Definition

Nuclear power stations convert heat energy produced from a nuclear fission chain reaction into electricity. Heat generated inside a nuclear reactor core from nuclear fission is used to convert water into steam, which then drives an electric turbine alternator.As the turbine spins it produces alternating current (AC) electricity which is supplied to the national electricity grid. The steam is re-condensed into water, usually by external seawater cooling and then recirculated back inside the reactor. For cooling reasons nuclear reactors are normally constructed near the coastline. Nuclear reactors built inland must be sited near large rivers and also generally use cooling towers.


Nuclear Power Institute (NPI)


The Nuclear Power Institute (NPI) is a unique statewide partnership led by the Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station and headquartered at Texas A&M University.NPI brings together four-year universities, two-year educational institutions, and public schools with the nuclear power industry, state and local organizations, and state, federal, and international agencies. Together, they can meet the challenge of providing the highly skilled, well-trained, and educated workforce needed to operate new and existing reactors in Texas.

Brief History of Nuclear Power


The Nuclear Power Institute was established on December 6, 2007 by the Board of Regents in response to the need identified by the nuclear industry to develop the new nuclear workforce. The availability of the workforce is on the critical path to initial operation of the plants.

The Nuclear Power Institute has responded by forming a partnership with several universities and two-year educational institutions, industry, governmental agencies, high schools and middle schools, teachers, and elected and civic leaders. New academic programs at the two-year and four-year level have been developed and implemented.

Outreach to students and teachers is a priority. Very innovative approaches have been created to link with teachers and students to inform and encourage high school students to enter into academic programs leading to STEM careers including those in the nuclear industry. Some of these have been recognized nationwide for their creativity and effectiveness. Plus the growth in nuclear power nationally and internationally are all facing the nuclear workforce issue.


What types of reactor are used for modern nuclear power stations?


  • Large commercial nuclear power stations planned for construction during this decade are mostly based on Generation III+ Pressurised Water Reactor (PWR) technology. The four leading designs are the US Westinghouse Advanced-Passive AP1000 reactor, the French Areva EPR Evolutionary Pressurised Water Reactor, the Japanese Mitsubishi Advanced Pressurized Water Reactor (APWR) and the Russian Rosatom VVER-1200.
  • There are also many other kinds of older nuclear power stations operating based on Generation I reactor designs built in the 1950s – 1960s, Generation II designs built in the 1970s – 1980s and Generation III designs built in the 1990s and 2000s.
  • In December 2009 South Korea won the largest nuclear export contract in the world worth $20 billion, to supply four Generation III KEPCO APR-1400 pressurised water reactors to the United Arab Emirates. Boiling Water Reactor (BWR) technology used in the American-Japanese General Electric Hitachi Economic Simplified Boiling Water Reactor (ESBWR) and Canada’s Advanced Canada Deuterium-Uranium Reactor (CANDU ACR-1000) might also be built in some countries.
  • The Generation III+ reactor designs presently under construction in Western Europe and China will soon begin operating this decade in the early 2010s.

What are the Uses of nuclear power?


Although nuclear technology is mainly used for the production of electricity in nuclear power plants, this is not the only utility that can be given.

This type of energy appears in many other aspects of our everyday life and in science.

If you work with different isotopes of the same element, it’s possible to use nuclear technology for other applications in different fields:

Military applications, nuclear weapons
A gun is a tool used to attack or defend. Nuclear weapons are those weapons that use nuclear technology. Depending on the role that has the nuclear weapon technology in the two types of nuclear weapons are distinguished: those that use nuclear energy to explode, as in the case of the atomic bomb, and those using nuclear technology for propulsion. In this second category are included cruisers, aircraft carriers, submarines …

Industrial uses of nuclear technology
Nuclear technology has a great importance in the industrial sector. It’s mainly used in development and process improvement to the measurement, automation and quality control.

It is used as a prerequisite for the full automation of high speed production lines, and it’s applied to the investigation of processes, mixing, maintenance and wear and corrosion study of plant and machinery.

Nuclear technology is also used in making plastics and sterilization of single-use products.

Medical uses of nuclear technology
Every third patient who visit a hospital in an industrialized country receives the benefits of any type of nuclear medicine procedure. Radiopharmaceuticals, and radiation therapy techniques for the treatment of malignant tumors, teletherapy for cancer treatment or radiation biology to sterilize medical products are used.

Agricultural uses of nuclear technology
The application of isotopes in agriculture has led to increased agricultural production in less developed countries.

Nuclear technology is useful in controlling insect pests, the best use of water resources, improved crop varieties or in the establishment of the conditions to optimize the efficiency of fertilizers and water .

Uses of nuclear technology to food
As food, nuclear techniques play an important role in food preservation.

The application of the isotopes can significantly increase the preservation of food. Currently, over 35 countries permit irradiation of certain foods.

Environmental uses of nuclear technology
The application of isotopes to determine the exact amounts of polluting substances and places in which they occur and their causes. Furthermore, the treatment beam electrons reduces the environmental and health consequences of large-scale employment of fossil fuels, and has a better contribution compared with other techniques, solving problems such as the “greenhouse effect” and acid rain

Advantages of Nuclear Energy

Despite potential drawbacks and the controversy that surrounds it, nuclear energy does have a few advantages over some other methods of energy production.

Less uranium is needed to produce the same amount of energy as coal or oil, which lowers the cost of producing the same amount of energy. Uranium is also less expensive to procure and transport, which further lowers the cost.

When a nuclear power plant is functioning properly, it can run uninterrupted for up to 540 days. This results in fewer brownouts or other power interruptions. The running of the plant is also not contingent of weather or foreign suppliers, which makes it more stable than other forms of energy.

No Greenhouse Gases
While nuclear energy does have some emissions, the plant itself does not give off greenhouse gasses. Studies have shown that what life-cycle emissions that the plants do give off are on par with renewable energy sources such as wind power. This lack of greenhouse gases can be very attractive to some consumers.

Disadvantages of Nuclear Energy

One of the reasons that nuclear energy falls under fire so frequently is due to the many disadvantages it brings.

Raw Material
Uranium is used in the process of fission because it’s a naturally unstable element. This means that special precautions must be taken during the mining, transporting and storing of the uranium, as well as the storing of any waste product to prevent it from giving off harmful levels of radiation.

Water Pollutant
Nuclear fission chambers are cooled by water. This water is then turned into steam, which is used to power the turbines. When the water cools enough to change back into liquid form, it is pumped outside into nearby wetlands. While measures are taken to ensure that no radiation is being pumped into the environment, other heavy metals and pollutants can make their way out of the chamber. The immense heat given off by this water can also be damaging to eco systems located nearby the reactor.

When the uranium has finished splitting, the resulting radioactive byproducts need to be removed. While recycling efforts of this waste product have been undertaken in recent years, the storage of the byproduct could lead to contamination through leaks or containment failures.

Nuclear reactors are built with several safety systems designed to contain the radiation given off in the fission process. When these safety systems are properly installed and maintained, they function adequately. When they are not maintained, have structural flaws or were improperly installed, a nuclear reactor could release harmful amounts of radiation into the environment during the process of regular use. If a containment field were to rupture suddenly, the resulting leak of radiation could be catastrophic.

Shutdown Reactors
There have been several nuclear reactors that have failed and been shutdown that are still in existence. These abandoned reactors are taking up valuable land space, could be contaminating the areas surrounding them, yet are often too unstable to be removed.


Nuclear power is one of the most comprehensively regulated industries. In the UK the nuclear industry is regulated by the independent Office for Nuclear Regulation and the Environment Agency or Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA). Specific laws govern storage, transport and use of nuclear materials. The nuclear power industry operates within a culture of continuous improvement. Whenever accidents have occurred at nuclear facilities, increased regulation and cooperation have followed, either nationally or internationally.

For example, after the accident that befell the nuclear reactors in Fukushima, Japan in March 2011, there has been a renewed focus on the safety of nuclear power stations. Lessons learned from Japan are being shared among the world’s nuclear operators. A thorough review of nuclear power in the UK , commissioned by the Government, has been published by Chief Nuclear Inspector Dr Mike Weightman, the UK’s independent nuclear regulator.

List of Nuclear power plants in India

Narora Atomic Power Station Narora Uttar Pradesh 440  MW
Rajasthan Atomic Power Station Rawatbhata Rajasthan 1180  MW
Tarapur Atomic Power Station Tarapur Maharashtra 1400  MW
Kakrapar Atomic Power Station Kakrapar Gujarat 440  MW
Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant Kudankulam Tamilnadu –  MW
Madras Atomic Power Station Kalpakkam Tamilnadu –  MW
Kaiga Nuclear Power Plant Kaiga Karnataka 660  MW
Madras Atomic Power Station Kalpakkam Tamil Nadu 440  MW

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