The Nuclear Reactor

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 11th grade November 2001

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The Nuclear Reactor What is a nuclear reactor, how does it work? Well a nuclear reactor is basically a steam engine, or heat engine. Water is boiled to an extreme temperature, which produces steam, this steam is highly pressurized, and it is then shot through a pipe, through a turbine, which spins it. That spinning is directed energy, which can pretty much do two things. It can produce electricity, propel a ship, or submarine. The government tried to design a nuclear powered plane, but they never succeeded, due to the weight of a nuclear reactor.

That is a simple example of how a nuclear reactor works. But how is the water heated? This, I will explain, and more of the details.

First there is a closed pot of water with a water circuit pipe going from it to another pot of closed water. In the first pot and circuit, the water is pressurized to prevent it from boiling, or steaming, to keep the water there as long as possible, it is hooked up to a pressurizer powered by a battery, or a constant power source.

In the first pot, or reactor, they put into it Uranium 238. They put other Uranium rods into it to bombard the U-238 with neutrons. This causes the U-238's atoms to split, or a nuclear reaction. The reaction of splitting atoms is called fission. This reaction produces a lot of heat. Where this takes place is in the pressurized pot. Water is pumped through the circuit, which goes through the pot where the reaction is taking place. That extremely hot circuit passes through the other pot of water that has a steamer on it. The water in that pot gets really hot and steam from it is shot through a pipe -secondary circuit, which...