Nuclear Electricity Production Jacki Majcher and Matt GAlbreath

Coal Productions vs. Nuclear Power Production

Both nuclear and coal use heat to boil water and produce steam to turn a turbine. But, Nuclear energy uses radioactive elements to produce heat during nuclear fission, while coal energy burns coal to produce heat. (Differences 2012)

They also differ in energy density: for nuclear energy, a uranium pellet the size of a pencil eraser could contain as much energy as a ton of coal. This allows Nuclear power plants to produce more energy efficiently.

Nuclear vs. Alternatives

Compared to other alternatives, nuclear power produces significantly more energy. A pound of nuclear fuel carries one million times more energy than a pound of fossil fuel. A coal powered plant requires nine thousand tons of fuel per day. A nuclear plant consumes 6.6 pounds of uranium in the same time allotment. (The 2017)

The Process of Nuclear Power Production

Uranium is the main agent that drives the generation of nuclear power. It comes as form of fuel, made of hard pellets packaged into long, vertical rods, and inserted into the nuclear reactor. A process called fission splits uranium atoms in the reactor. When the nuclei break up, neutrons and heat are released, causing other nuclei to break up in a chain reaction that becomes self-sustaining. Control rods inserted along the fuel rods regulate the speed of the reaction. Water is the only thing that separates fuel rods in the reactor, and when fission occurs, the heat produced boils the water and turns it into steam. The steam moves a turbine, which spins a generator to create electricity. (How 2017)

Importance of Rods in Nuclear Power

There are two types of rods used in the Nuclear Power production process, the fuel rod and the control rod. Fuel rods fuel the nuclear reactor while control rods slow/stop the fission reaction when inserted. Although they seem unimportant, • Control rods contain materials (such as boron) that absorb neutrons to prevent neutrons from causing more fissions.(Control 2017)

Control rods can be inserted or removed into/from the reactor core to influence how reactivity rates of the reactor, which then affects the neutron power levels and therefore, the electricity levels generated. They are a major part of the emergency shutdown component (SCRAM). Contributes to the reactor start up. The position of the control roads around the reactor control the criticality of the reactor.(Control 2017)

Critical: power of the reactor and neutron flux is stable.

Subcritical: power of the reactor and neutron flux is decreasing.

Supercritical: power of the reactor and neutron flux is increasing

Advantages and Disadvantages of Nuclear Power


Most of the consumption of fossil fuels is done through road transport, not to produce energy.

The accidents that can occur can’t always be dealt with quickly, or at all.

Nuclear waste takes years before the radioactivity expires.

The construction of a nuclear plant is incredibly expensive, and this raises the price of the electricity produced.

Nuclear reactors have an expiration date. When they can’t be used anymore, it’s expensive, dangerous, and takes a long time to shut down the plant.

They require reliance on other countries, since not every county has access to uranium and/or nuclear technology, so they rely on other countries for information.


More nuclear power used means less use of fossil fuels to produce energy. The decrease of fossil fuels lowers greenhouse gas emissions, and helps to improve global warming and climate change.

Less fuel means more energy, which saves on the amount of raw materials extracted and handled.

The cost of nuclear fuel is only 20% of the cost of producing the power

The production of electricity is almost continuous, producing energy 90% of the time

It’s doesn’t rely on natural occurrences, like solar or wind power do, so it can coincide with raising and lowering demand.(Advantages 2017)

Created By
Matt and Jacki


Created with images by wpaczocha - "coal black industry" • Pexels - "fire enbers coal" • JohnE777 - "Tread Upon Now What?" • greenishseal - "Auckland + Toxic Waste" • jeffgunn - "Grand Teton National Park"

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