Pique the Geek 20110320: How Nuclear Reactors Work Part the First

(10 pm – promoted by TheMomCat)

With the news about the horrible failure of the nuclear reactors in Japan, it occurred to me that many people do not really understand how nuclear reactors work.  This is the first part of a short series designed to demystify how nuclear reactors work.

All methods for generation of usable amounts of electricity require some sort of energy source.  In photovoltaic units, the electromagnetic energy in solar (or other) photons is the energy source.  In geothermal plants, the interior heat energy from the earth is used, whilst in wind plants the kinetic energy of moving air is used.  Hydroelectric plants use the kinetic energy of moving water.

Fossil fuel fired plants use the potential energy contained in coal, oil, or gas by converting it to heat by combustion.  Finally, nuclear electricity uses the potential energy of a very few heavy elements’ nuclei that is released as heat in the reactor.


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  1. a hot topic?

    Warmest regards,


  2. We each need an education about that which was wrought and “experimented” on Hiroshima.  Not to be forgotten EVER!

    I have been reading and learning recently of an energy source, which is so easy, totally non-damaging to the environment, etc.  I’m at a loss to understand why it has yet to be utilized.  I’m talking about the technology of “wave motion.”  From what I understand, there is this technology (equipment) which can rest in the oceans, and because of the constant “wave” of the oceans, can produce massive amounts of energy — supplying millions with electricity, etc.  Not much heard about, of course, you know, because it just might not be the most profitable of ventures!

    Still, wouldn’t it be an incredible step in the “right” direction?  

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