Most power plants make electricity by boiling water to make steam that turns a turbine. A nuclear power plant works this way, too. At a nuclear power plant, splitting atoms produce the heat to boil the water. This lesson covers inside the reactor, fission control and electricity generation.
Lesson Four showed how the nuclei of atoms store energy and how unstable atoms decay and release energy. How do nuclear engineers use this knowledge to help them harness energy to make electricity? The answer lies in being able to start a nuclear chain reaction in fuel inside a nuclear power plant and keep it going. This lesson examines nuclear reactions called fission as well as how uranium is processed from ore to fuel.
Lesson Three showed that unstable isotopes emit energy as they become more stable. This energy is known as radiation. This lesson explores forms of radiation, where radiation is found, how we detect and measure radiation, what sources of radiation people are exposed to, whether radiation is harmful, and how we can limit our exposure.
You’ve probably heard people refer to nuclear energy as “atomic energy.” Why? Nuclear energy is the energy that is stored in the bonds of atoms, inside the nucleus. Nuclear power plants are designed to capture this energy as heat and convert it to electricity. This lesson looks closely at what atoms are and how atoms store energy.
It’s difficult to imagine life without convenient electricity. You just flip a switch or plug in an appliance, and it’s there. But how did it get there? Many steps go into providing the reliable electricity we take for granted. This lesson takes a closer look at electricity. It follows the path of electricity from the fuel source to the home, including the power plant and the electric power grid. It also covers the role of electric utilities in the generation, transmission, and distribution of electricity.
Deep borehole disposal is one alternative for the disposal of spent nuclear fuel and other radioactive waste forms; identifying a site or areas with favorable geological, hydrogeological, and geochemical conditions is one of the first steps to a demonstration project.
The report describes the strategy for coupling process level models to produce an integrated Used Fuel Degradation Model (FDM), and addresses fractional degradation rate, instant release fractions, other continuum modeling approaches, and experimental support.
This report provides results of the initial demonstration of the modeling capability developed to perform preliminary deterministic evaluations of moderate-to-high burnup used nuclear fuel (UNF) mechanical performance under normal conditions of storage (NCS) and transport (NCT).
This study contributes to investigation and better understanding of cladding (High Flux Isotope Reactor used to simulate the effects of high burnup on fuel cladding) materials performance in extended storage and transportation through the conduct of small scale and separate effects tests (SET).
In January 2013, the Department of Energy issued the Strategy for the Management and Disposal of Used Nuclear Fuel and High-Level Radioactive Waste. Among the elements contained in this strategy is an initial focus on accepting used nuclear fuel from shutdown reactor sites.
Enginerred Barrier Systems (EBS) model evaluation and development is fundamental to the design and analysis of disposal concepts for generic repository systems; this report centers on progress made on modeling and experimental approaches to analyze physical and chemical interactions affecting clay barrier performance.
Experiments were used to examine water content in Permian salt samples including impact of variation in thermal regime on water content of evaporites and other mineral species, behavior of brine inclusions in salt, and evolution of the gas/liquid brine/salt system.
The Nuclear Science and Engineering Education Sourcebook is a repository of critial information on nuclear engineering programs at U.S. colleges and universities. It includes detailed information such as nuclear engineering enrollments, degrees, and faculty expertise. In this latest edition, science faculty and programs relevant to nuclear energy are also included.
The Reactor Materials element of the Nuclear Energy Enabling Technologies (NEET) program conducted its FY 2013 coordination meeting as a series of four web-conferences to act as a forum for the nuclear materials research community. The purpose of this meeting was to report on current and planned nuclear materials research, identify new areas of collaboration and promote greater coordination among the various Office of Nuclear Energy programs. The presentations from the webinar series are available here.
The Advanced Sensors and Instrumentation (ASI) element of the Nuclear Energy Enabling Technologies (NEET) program conducted its first Annual Project Review Meeting on May 21-22, 2013 in Germantown, Maryland. The purpose of this meeting was to review the status of the 10 ASI projects initiated in FY 2012. The meeting summary and project presentations are available here.
This work on the natural barrier system is conducted to reduce uncertainty in natural system performance and to fully exploit the credits that can be taken for the natural system barrier; several potential enhancements to describing barrier performance capabilities are presented.
The purpose of the Nuclear Energy Advanced Modeling and Simulation (NEAMS) Software Verification and Validation (V&V) Plan is to define what the NEAMS program expects in terms of V&V for the computational models that are developed under NEAMS.
Shale and clay-rich rock formations have been considered as potential host rocks for geological disposal of high-level radioactive waste throughout the world: modeling thermal, hydrological, mechanical, and chemical (THMC) of the near field of generic clay repository is discussed.
The Generic Deep Geologic Disposal Safety Case presents generic information that is of use in understanding potential deep geologic disposal options (e.g., salt, shale, granite, deep borehole) in the U.S. for used nuclear fuel (UNF) from reactors and high-level radioactive waste (HLW).
Nuclear energy represents the single largest carbon-free baseload source of energy in the United States, accounting for nearly 20 percent of the electricity generated and over 60 percent of our low-carbon production. Worldwide, nuclear power generates 14 percent of global electricity. Continually increasing demand for clean energy both domestically and across the globe, combined with research designed to make nuclear power ever-safer and more cost-effective, will keep nuclear in the energy mix for the foreseeable future.