A nuclear reactor is a system used to initiate and contain a nuclear chain reaction, and they have many useful applications. These nuclear reactions produce thermal energy through either nuclear fission or nuclear fusion. Nuclear reactors are primarily used for the generation of electricity, however they can be used for propulsion in vehicles such as submarines or naval vessels, for production of useful isotopes or neutrons, and for research and training.
What is a Nuclear Reactor?
A nuclear reactor formerly known as an atomic pile, it is a device used to initiate and control a sustained nuclear chain reaction. Nuclear reactors are used at nuclear power plant for electricity generation and in population of ships. Heat from nuclear fission is passed to a working fluid (water or gas), which runs through steam turbines.
All commercial power reactors are based on nuclear fission. They generally use uranium and its product plutonium as nuclear fuel, through a thorium fuel cycles is also possible. Fission reactors can be divided roughly into two classes, depending on the energy of the neutrons that sustain the fission chain reaction.
Main Components of a Nuclear Reactor:
The Core: It contains all the fuel and generates the heat required for energy production.
The Coolant: It passes through the core, absorbing the heat and transferring into turbines
The Turbine: Transfers energy into mechanical form.
The Cooling Tower: It eliminates the excess heat that is not converted or transferred.
The Containment: The enveloping structure that separated the nuclear reactor from the surrounding environment.
Types of Nuclear Reactors:
Based on general use, there are two types of Nuclear Reactor
Nuclear Research Reactors: Exclusively for the purpose of research and testing methodologies.
Nuclear Power Reactors: Established for the solitary purpose of producing energy and electricity
Nuclear Reactors can also be classified according to the type of fuel used:
Uranium fuelled, namely U-235 isotope as U-238 is not fissionable.
Based on design, there are other types of nuclear reactor like:
Pressurized water reactors.
Boiling water reactors.