What is Nuclear power: Definition and 116 Discussions

Nuclear power is the use of nuclear reactions to produce electricity. Nuclear power can be obtained from nuclear fission, nuclear decay and nuclear fusion reactions. Presently, the vast majority of electricity from nuclear power is produced by nuclear fission of uranium and plutonium in nuclear power plants. Nuclear decay processes are used in niche applications such as radioisotope thermoelectric generators in some space probes such as Voyager 2. Generating electricity from fusion power remains the focus of international research.
Civilian nuclear power supplied 2,586 terawatt hours (TWh) of electricity in 2019, equivalent to about 10% of global electricity generation, and was the second-largest low-carbon power source after hydroelectricity. As of January 2021, there are 442 civilian fission reactors in the world, with a combined electrical capacity of 392 gigawatt (GW). There are also 53 nuclear power reactors under construction and 98 reactors planned, with a combined capacity of 60 GW and 103 GW, respectively. The United States has the largest fleet of nuclear reactors, generating over 800 TWh zero-emissions electricity per year with an average capacity factor of 92%. Most reactors under construction are generation III reactors in Asia.
Nuclear power has one of the lowest levels of fatalities per unit of energy generated compared to other energy sources. Coal, petroleum, natural gas and hydroelectricity each have caused more fatalities per unit of energy due to air pollution and accidents. Since its commercialization in the 1970s, nuclear power has prevented about 1.84 million air pollution-related deaths and the emission of about 64 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent that would have otherwise resulted from the burning of fossil fuels.
Accidents in nuclear power plants include the Chernobyl disaster in the Soviet Union in 1986, the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in Japan in 2011, and the more contained Three Mile Island accident in the United States in 1979.
There is a debate about nuclear power. Proponents, such as the World Nuclear Association and Environmentalists for Nuclear Energy, contend that nuclear power is a safe, sustainable energy source that reduces carbon emissions. Nuclear power opponents, such as Greenpeace and NIRS, contend that nuclear power poses many threats to people and the environment.

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  1. D

    Have pulsed fission reactors got any potential in nuclear energy?

    How did you find PF?: Searched for some forum about mechanical engineering in Google Do pulsed nuclear fission reactors have any chances to be used in nuclear power? If the answer is "no" is that just because of no need in pulsed operation mode while having a common one, are there any more...
  2. .Scott

    B Canadian Antineutrino Detector detects Nuclear Power Plants from 240km

    The SNO+ Experiment in Canada is still in development, but analysis of early antineutrino detections as published in Physics Review Letters and as referenced in the SNO+ results page are believed to be from appear to be the from Ontario reactors 240Km away.
  3. Greg Bernhardt

    Ukraine nuclear power plant Zaporizhzhia on fire

    Let's keep this non-political, similar to the Fukushima thread. Thanks! https://finance.yahoo.com/news/1-ukraine-nuclear-power-plant-001225198.html
  4. J

    Working out steam velocity with only pressure difference

    I am currently doing an assignment on nuclear power and in the turbine, the steam is moving from pressure of 6Mpa to 0.008 Mpa. is there any way to work out the velocity of the steam when moving between these pressure differences?
  5. A

    Nuclear Power Usage: Hear What Others Know.

    I have just completed a paper in my English class about nuclear energy and I would like to hear about other peoples interest of the topic of using nuclear energy. I would like to come out and say I have found a lot of information regarding how safe they really are and how efficient the plants...
  6. K

    Questions on operating a nuclear power plant on the Moon or Mars

    Heat cannot be removed by liquid-to-gas heat exchangers since there is no substantial atmospheres on the Moon or on Mars. It cannot be dissipated by venting steam since there is a critical water shortage. It cannot be dissipated by rocks or soil since both are essentially thermal insulators. It...
  7. E

    Nuclear Power Plants - Electricity Production

    I've calculated that reaction-energy in fission of a single atom of Uranium-235 is 2.5977713481*10^-11 Joules (based off of the equation given above.) I'm assuming that PWh has to be converted into simpler units so, 2.49PWh = 2.49*10^15Wh.. afterwards I could make it into watts but I was never...
  8. G

    Suggestions for research topics for M.Sc. in Nuclear Power Engineering

    Summary: Suggestion on experimental research related to reactor for master's degree dissertation. Summary: Suggestion on experimental research related to reactor for master's degree dissertation. I have just started my master's degree course in Nuclear Power Engineering and decided to...
  9. T

    What are benefits of Electricity of nuclear power plant

    Hello What are benefits of nuclear power plant electricity than hydro power generated electricity Does it cost less per unit any or the waveform is pure sine wave how engineer build it .
  10. D

    Exploring Nuclear Power Technology: A Scientific Perspective

    Hello. My name is Dom Napolitano and I would like to create a thread on Nuclear Power Technology.
  11. Fabio Pastorino

    What is the size of the nuclear reactor part of a nuclear power plant

    Good morning at all, I have to do one research of the transport of large nuclear reactors, and I need to have an idea of which is the DIAMETER, HEIGHT and WEIGHT of the reactor I think that there are a lot of different dimension, but i want to know only approximately, because i don't have...
  12. Delta Force

    Question about Midland Cogenerating Nuclear Power Plant

    Midland Nuclear Power Plant was going to have two nuclear reactors from Babcock & Wilcox. Unit 1 was to have a capacity of 460 MWe, while Unit 2 was to have a capacity of 808 MWe. Were the reactors twins that simply had different steam machinery due to the cogeneration requirements or were they...
  13. T

    Understanding Nuclear Fission in Power Plants

    So I need some help verifying this information.(I had to dumb it down, for the younger ones) - The Nuclear Fission process is started when the Nuclear fuels rods are submerged in coolant water to moderate the Nuclear fission process. When the Fuel rods are put close together this sets of a...
  14. EnumaElish

    What is the fixed cost vs. variable cost breakdown for a nuclear power plant?

    I am trying to understand the fixed cost of a nuclear power plant relative to variable cost. By fixed cost I mean "cost that does not vary with the amount of the power outputted over a given time period." By variable cost I mean "cost items that vary with the amount of the power outputted...
  15. C

    Alternate Heat Expansion Media for Nuclear Power Plants

    I am interested in whether it might be possible to select a more efficient heat expansion media for nuclear power plants than water, which has a very specific heat and a very high heat of vaporization. The high value of the specific heat and the heat of vaporization of water requires much...
  16. gleem

    Westinghouse Bankruptcy and the Future of Nuclear Power

    Are anti-nucs dancing in the streets? Westinghouse the nuclear power branch of Toshiba has filed for bankruptcy leaving two unfinished power plants in the US and propose projects in the UK and India in limbo...
  17. Delta Force

    Volanic Ash and Nuclear Power Plants

    Trojan Nuclear Power Plant was located 12 miles north of St. Helens, Oregon. St. Helens, Oregon, is only 39 miles away from Mount St. Helens, which had a major volcanic eruption in 1980. The heaviest ash fell to the northwest of the volcano in Washington and to some extents Idaho, which...
  18. Eisenach

    Advice for a composition about nuclear power production

    Hi everyone! I'm an italian undergraduate in physics and one of my course is called "Basics of Energy Physics". For the exam you have to write a brief composition based on one of the topic of the course. I've chosen the nuclear energy, because this will probably be my main interest in my post...
  19. snatchingthepi

    A Doppler Broadening in Gen 4 Nuclear Power

    I was reading about the new pebble bed gas-cooled reactor China is building and was looking into how the fuel design reduces the risk of meltdown. Apparently this is largely due to something called "Doppler Broadening" and this somehow affects neutron absorption. I don't see how this works and...
  20. Dream Relics

    Steam engines -- A new idea, maybe....

    Why do we use water for steam engines? Why not something else? So, I have a question, or maybe it is an idea that i would like to share. So, sure, there are many finer points to the engineering of a steam turbine to make them work efficiently, and no doubt the designs have improved much since...
  21. RooksAndBooks

    First Nuclear-Powered Airliner?

    The BBC has reported on a supposed nuclear-powered airliner that would fly three times the speed of sound. http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20160713-could-this-be-the-first-nuclear-powered-airliner From the article: The first sentence of this article already makes me skeptical. It runs on...
  22. R

    Process which electricity is generated (Nuclear power)

    Homework Statement I picked a nuclear power plant. I spent a bit of time researching what the basic process is and that's what I've arrived at so far. I'm not certain if the answer is complete/decent, it seems like a very complex process which even for 'point form' could be a page of...
  23. sevenperforce

    High-temperature tritium scrubbing

    If you could design a fusion-based nuclear reactor with the potential to completely revolutionize energy access around the world, but the reactor could only function by releasing environmentally significant amounts of superheated tritium directly into the atmosphere, would there be any way to...
  24. Cyril St-Amand

    Dismantlement of Nuclear Power Plant (Canada)

    Hi everyone this is my first time posting here, First of all, excuse my english because here in Mtl we speak French mostly. My team and I are working on an university project in Montreal (Qc) Canada (Polytechnique) regarding the recycling of radioactive material waste. We are working on the...
  25. L

    Nuclear power plant - Control system

    Hi guys, I do apologize if this thread is in the incorrect place.. Long story short, I'm doing a university project based on developing an AI to control the power plant energy output. From my research so far, I've concluded that the control rods control the fission rate. The problem is, I for...
  26. Dlhill13

    Next Generation of Nuclear Power Ideas -- Opinions?

    Recently, I have been looking into more effective methods of harnessing nuclear power and making an attempt to move away from conventional steam plants and the use of turbines, thus reducing heat losses, maintenance and construction costs, etc. That being said, my current concept uses a...
  27. E

    Questions about the state of nuclear power in the U.S.

    What do you know and think about the state of power in general in the United States (for example the coal industry)? What do you know and think about the state of nuclear power in the United States? Do you think there should be more or less support for it and why? How dangerous is a nuclear...
  28. F

    Why do some nuclear power plants have smoke stacks?

    There are a lot of nuclear power plants around the world that have smoke stacks, the kind you'd usually see at a coal fired power plant. Are they to release steam in an emergency, or are they some kind of exhaust system the plant uses, or something else? Most nuclear power plants in America have...
  29. Evanish

    Is magnifying thermal power density possible with decay heat

    Recently there was an interesting thread on physics forum about possible uses of spent nuclear fuel. It seems to me that one of the problems with using decay heath from spent nuclear fuel is the low power density. This got me thinking that maybe with enough insulation the low quality heat...
  30. K

    How to prepare for R&D in nuclear power?

    What courses can I pursue after my undergrad education that will enable me to work on next gen nuclear technologies? What kinds of people work in these areas and what career paths do they choose? I've read a lot about the different kinds of people working on Gen 4 reactors(LFTRs, TWRs) and...
  31. E

    Zaporizhya Nuclear Power Plant Issues

    There are reports of a renewed reactor shutdown at Zaporizhya, the Ukraine's largest nuclear power station, as well as rumors of possible radiation leaks: http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2014-12-30/ukraine-hiding-huge-radiation-leak-largest-nuclear-power-plant-Europe Given wretched weather and a...
  32. E

    News South Africa set to get a nuclear power plant funded by Russia

    South Africa is set to get a nuclear power plant, following the signing of a cooperation deal with Russia recently. Both sides noted that the nuclear power plant will have a production capacity of up to 9.6 GW based on Russian Technology, by 2030. Read more here...
  33. sa1988

    Programs How to get into nuclear power career from Physics degree?

    Hi all, no idea if this is the correct place to ask this but I'll just put it here anyway. I chose to take Physics at university because I find the breadth of it so interesting. However in terms of applying my knowledge, I think it's generally accepted that as a physicist I'll need to branch...
  34. A

    Nuclear power for desalinization not power?

    In 2005 the American Nuclear Society endorsed the use of nuclear energy for desalinisation -- see http://www.ans.org/pi/ps/docs/ps62.pdf Would there be any advantages in terms of safety and / or cost to using nuclear fission to desalinate seawater (or perform some other...
  35. F

    Could a jet engine be run on nuclear power?

    I know people have designed nuclear rocket engines, but is there any reason you couldn't have a nuclear thermal jet engine? Simply take a conventional jet and swap out the combustion area with a small reactor? Could the same idea work at higher speeds with a nuclear ramjet, or scramjet equivalent?
  36. K

    Are there any nuclear power plants on oceanic coastlines like Fukashima?

    Are there any nuclear power plants on oceanic coastlines like Fukashima Daiichi which are vulnerable to being damaged by powerful tsunamis and earthquakes? Do any of these coastal plants exist in the United States?
  37. B

    How does cooling work in a nuclear power plant?

    I know how Nuclear Power works so this will help you move a little faster with helping me. Whenever I see a Specs on how they Colldown a Reactor they show you a big Pump going into the Core and turns and goes back out. In this big Pump is Cold Watter and because it is going throu the water...
  38. V

    Engineering Mechanical Engineer at a Nuclear Power Plant

    Can anyone tell me who is a Mechanical Engineer and works in a Nuclear Power Plant, just what their daily duties include? How they like the work environment and such. I'm interested in knowing because as a student, my university has a Co-op program. Recently, I sent out my resume to FirstEnergy...
  39. H

    Thoughts on nuclear power and disasters [long, rant/tangenty]

    I would describe myself as a "layperson plus" who enjoys reading on topics such as nuclear engineering, but definitely do not possesses genuine physics nor engineering expertise beyond high school advanced placement courses (which were twenty years ago anyway, and much of what I learned then has...
  40. A

    Nuclear Power Plant Spent Fuel Types

    nuclear engineers it does seem like it requires types of current nuclear power plants. so what are they and what are the spent fuels? Have A Nice Day!
  41. F

    Calculating Power Diminishment of Nuclear Battery and Solar Panel over Time

    Homework Statement The \alpha decay 238Pu →234U + \alphareleases 5.49 MeV energy. By a radio-thermal generator the decay energy is converted into electricity with an efficiency of 6.8%. The Voyager 2 spacecraft used such a nuclear battery. It was launched on 20.8.1977 and reached Neptune at...
  42. A

    The economics of nuclear power

    So based on this Florida estimates that to build nuclear power stations it will cost $20 billion, but I can't find how many they are planning to build. But it raises an interesting question about the economics of nuclear power in general, in particular what are the major factors behind its...
  43. V

    Amount of nuclear power need to propel a shuttle at the speed of light

    hello, my name is Zachary. i have little to no experience in astrophysics but i must say it is the most intriguing subject of discussion for me. what i believe i have worked out is the amount of nuclear energy (MeV) in megaelctronvolts, to propel a space shuttle (for a general number for M) at...
  44. T

    Submersed nuclear power plants

    Hello everyone, it's been a while since I posted here! Unfortunately, I've been away from the nuclear engineering scene and detoured to computer science. My job now is as a programmer for avionics. I enjoy it, but it isn't my first love. Recently, though, I got invited by my uncle to help out...
  45. S

    Research Paper on Nuclear Power

    I am looking to write a paper on nuclear power. Our professor said the research/data (has to be peer-reviewed) that I will be using should be no more than 5 years old. What would be a good part of nuclear power to focus on? First I though effect of Japan's disaster on the rest of the...
  46. S

    What if a nuclear power plant loses outside electricity?

    Nuclear power plants as well as power plants in general are not self-sufficient in terms of electricity. If a nuclear power plant loses outside electrical power, the plant must then be powered with emergency diesel generators which typically have about 10-12 hours worth of fuel, and then...
  47. Math Is Hard

    Skip college and become a Nuclear Power Reactor Operator. Really?

    http://www.dailyfinance.com/2010/08/11/skip-college-make-money-fast-10-high-paying-jobs-that-dont-re/ OK, the article is a year old, but I don't think things have changed that much, and I think this is a Simpson's-perpetuated myth.