Environmental Engineering Reference
In-Depth Information
Nuclear fuel is placed in fuel
rods. The rods are used in the
core of the reactor.
is not bound to any
nucleus—is lying
through the area.
Suppose as well
that this neutron
happens to hit a
U-235 nucleus. If the neutron is not moving too fast, the nucleus
may capture it. This causes the nucleus to split into two smaller
nuclei. In the process, some energy and two or three neutrons
are released. The chain reaction can continue if one or more of
these newly released neutrons happens to be captured by other
U-235 nuclei. Those nuclei will then split, releasing more energy
and more neutrons. As long as there are enough neutrons and
enough U-235 nuclei, the process can keep going. In this way, a
huge amount of energy is released.
In a bomb, the chain reaction needs to be very fast. This
produces a sudden release of a great deal of energy, making the
bomb explode. The situation is different in a nuclear reactor. In
a reactor, the chain reaction has to occur over a long period of
time. Power plants, or power stations, need a continual supply
of heat to make electricity. In order to provide the right amount
of heat, a reactor has ways of controlling the chain reaction.
These keep the process from going too fast or too slow.
The chain reaction takes place in a part of the reactor called
the core. The core is specially designed for controlling the chain
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