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Controlled release of nuclear energy

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  • How does a nuclear power plant generate electricity?

  • The water from the condenser is pumped directly into the reactor vessel for a BWR, or into the steam generators for a PWR. So there you have it: the nuclear reaction heats the fuel, the fuel heats the water to make steam, the steam spins the turbine, the turbine turns the generator, and the generator makes electricity.

  • How is energy released during a nuclear reaction?

  • During a reaction the smaller atoms don鈥檛 need as much binding energy to hold them together, so the extra energy is released as heat and radiation. In nuclear power stations, the heat caused by fission is used to boil water into steam. The steam is then used to turn a turbine that drives generators to make electricity.

  • What makes nuclear energy so powerful?

  • The natural element used to create nuclear energy – uranium – is powerful stuff. A single uranium fuel pellet, which is about the size of a peanut, can produce as much energy as 800kg of coal.

  • What happens in a nuclear reactor?

  • In the process of nuclear fission, atoms are split to release that energy. A nuclear reactor, or power plant, is a series of machines that can control nuclear fission to produce electricity.

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