Nuclear reactor class 12


I am sure you must have heard of "Nuclear Reactors" or "Nuclear Energy" somewhere, as coal and other natural resources are on the edge of extinction. Nuclear energy is the only way to satisfy the rising demand of electricity. To generate this electricity from a dangerous nuclear reaction, it's a challenge of its own and this is where "Nuclear Reactors" come into play. 

Nuclear reactors are the power plants that use nuclear fission reaction to generate electricity. As some nuclear reactors are used for the sole purpose of generating electricity, there are some nuclear reactors as well which are used for research purposes to find more methodologies to generate electricity or use nuclear energy for well being. 

So in this article, we will learn about nuclear reactors for class 12th, from the components used in a nuclear reactor to the working of the nuclear reactor and learn about nuclear reaction or to be precise nuclear fission reaction and how this reaction is used to generate this much amount of electricity. 

What is a nuclear reactor?

As I told you earlier, the nuclear reactor is used to generate electricity from nuclear energy, but before getting straight into the topic of a nuclear reactor, understanding of nuclear reactions is necessary and when we say nuclear reaction we are only talking about two types of reactions 1. Fusion Reaction 2. Fission Reaction. 

Well, nuclear fusion reaction is actually not compatible to generate electricity, I have talked about this in one of my other articles of controlling nuclear fusion to generate electricity so do read that as well.


As we can't use fusion reaction in nuclear reactors, therefore, we must use nuclear fission reaction in nuclear reactors to generate electricity. 

So let's learn about nuclear fission reaction and the process of generating electricity in general apart from nuclear reactors to get you a better understanding of the scenario of whole this process. 

Nuclear fission reaction and generating electricity:

Nuclear fission is the process in which the nucleus of heavy atoms split into the fragment of lighter nuclei. This process gives us the excess amount of energy which later gets used in electricity generation. 

This splitting of heavy atom nucleus can be done by bombarding the nucleus of a heavy atom with small particles called "neutrinos".

Nuclear Fission
Nuclear fission
 
Now don't just think that this process only produces energy, apart from energy neutrons also get produced which is then used to split another atom of molecules and this process goes on. 

You now know what a fission reaction actually is, but before understanding the process of electricity generation from the energy received during fission reaction. Let's first understand how a general electricity-producing plant works. 

Most of these electricity plants use turbines to convert mechanical energy into electricity, For example, let's take a plant that uses coal to generate electricity. The coal is burned which will then be used to run turbines and these turbines will convert mechanical energy into electrical energy. 

Now, this same process is used in the nuclear reactor where, in the end, mechanical energy gets converted into electrical energy. We will discuss the whole process as well in detail later in this article but to give you a general idea, the energy received from the fission reaction is later used to generate steam, this steam helps us to run turbine which will basically convert mechanical energy into electricity. 

Now, this was just a brief explanation. No doubt! in nuclear reactor there's a lot more things that takes place and we will learn them as well further in this article. So let's discuss that whole process in depth by understanding the components of a nuclear reactor and their role in it. 

Components and working of nuclear reactor:

Nuclear reactors have 5 main components in it, each of them with there specific role. These components are 1. The core 2. The coolant 3. Turbine 4. Cooling Tower and 5. Containment

Nuclear Reactor working and components
Nuclear reactor

Now, we will learn the specific role of all these components and understand how a nuclear reactor works. 

1. The Core: It contains all the necessary fuels for fission reaction and generates heat which is required for electricity generation. This is the place where a nuclear fission reaction actually takes place. 

The fuel we used in this is low-enriched uranium present in thousands of individual pins. The structure of the core is design in such a way that heat which is produced during the reaction can be transferred to the point where it's required, outside of the core. 

Watch this video to know how the core of real nuclear reactor works and looks like: 


2. The Coolant: The main role of coolant is absorbing and transfer of heat to the turbines. Coolants are connected with the core and the heat produced during fission reaction in the core creates steam which is present in the coolant. This steam later gets transferred to run the turbines. 

3. The Turbine: Just like in other electricity-producing plants, turbines are used to convert mechanical energy into electrical. These turbines are run with the help of intense steam transferred from the coolant. 

4. Cooling Tower: The only purpose of the cooling tower is to eliminate the excess heat that is not been able to convert or transfer through the coolant. 

5. The Containment: This is the structure which you will see in most of the nuclear reactor photos, the cylindrical type of structure which is used to separate the nuclear reactor from the outer environment and surroundings. 

This is how the containment of a nuclear reactor looks. I know you have must seen in some movies or images of any book: 

Containment of Nuclear Reactor
Containment of nuclear reactor

So this was the whole working of a nuclear reactor and the role of each component of nuclear reactors. At first, it may look a little complicated but if you see it, you will notice the electricity generation is the same method which we used in other electricity generating plants such as wind energy or water energy. 

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