Nuclear Power Symposium Report
By: [Your name here]
Nuclear power plants provide 20 percent of the world’s electricity. There are more than four hundred nuclear power plants around the world, with more than one hundred in the United States. Nuclear power is the controlled use of nuclear reactions to create energy for propulsion, heat, and the generation of electricity. Today’s use of nuclear power is done by nuclear fission and radioactive decay. Nuclear fission or atomic fission is a process in which the nucleus of an atom splits into two or more smaller nuclei. The products of nuclear fission include the two or more smaller nuclei, energy and single neutrons. Nuclear fission produces the energy needed for nuclear power and to drive the explosion of nuclear weapons. Fission is a useful power source because of the materials used, called nuclear fuels. Nuclear fuels can be used in a self-sustaining reactor that releases the energy at a controlled rate or in a nuclear weapon that releases the energy at a very rapid uncontrolled rate. The most common nuclear fuels used are uranium 235 and plutonium 239.
A nuclear reactor needs enriched uranium to work. Uranium is formed into pellets around the size of a dime. The pellets are arranged into long rods and then the long rods put into bundles. The bundles are submerged in water in a pressure vessel where the water acts as a coolant for the bundles. Also in the water, there are control rods which are used to absorb neutrons. The control rods are then inserted into the bundles using a mechanism to raise and lower them. When more heat is wanted from the uranium core the control rods are raised out of the bundle. The control rods are lowered into the uranium bundle to create less heat. The control rods can be completely lowered into the uranium bundle to shut the reactor down in case of an accident or to change the fuel. The uranium bundle is a high energy source of heat. The bundle heats the water...