Nuclear Reactors for Dummies

by Sustainable G on March 31, 2011 · 1 comment

in Miscellaneous Schmidt

In light of the recent earthquake in Japan, I thought it would be good to use this space to give you all a crash course on how nuclear reactors work.  Welcome to my Nuclear Reactors for Dummies.

For starters, it is important to know the difference between fusion and fission.  Fusion takes two unstable and radioactive nuclei and slams them together.  These two materials then create a heavier nucleus that releases large amounts of energy.
Nuclear Fusion
Nuclear Fusion

Fission takes one unstable and radioactive nucleus and splits it into two more nuclei by introducing a neutron.

Nuclear Fission

Nuclear Fission

California’s nuclear reactors work using nuclear fission.  They place large number of Uranium-235 nuclei in a reactor, and fire a neutron at one of the nuclei.  The nucleus that gets hit by the neutron then splits into two more nuclei and they also fire off three neutrons that then collide with other nuclei in the system.  This chain reaction produces a large amount of heat during the process.  This heat warms up water located near the reactor and that water turns into steam which then pushes a turbine and creates the electricity that we then use.  In order to keep the reaction from getting out of hand, reactors have control rods.  These rods prevent the neutrons from hitting all of the Uranium at once.  If all the Uranium were to fission too fast, then the heat would cause the reactor to melt and release large amounts of radiation into the surrounding area or the reactor might just go boom.

Nuclear reactors do not generate any of the carbon emissions into the atmosphere.  They take up little to no space which makes them very, very green.

Here’s a link if you want to play around with a simulation of a nuclear reactor and see how nuclear fission works.  Just download the application and have fun (trust me, there are no viruses hiding in the program)

If you do not trust me (I won’t be offended) and you still want to have a visualization of how nuclear fission works, then find yourself some dominos.

Here’s more information on what happened specifically at the Fukushima reactor in Japan.

Leave it to the economists to find a silver lining in the Japanese crisis.

Finally, here is what our California government is doing to make sure that our nuclear reactors do not suffer the same fate as the Fukushima reactor in the event of an earthquake.

It would not be right if I did not add a list of sites that you can go to in order to help Japan. Even if you cannot physically go over to Japan, you can still help by giving money to those who can.

Red Cross

Salvation Army

And for all you video game nuts (I know you’re out there) Bungie is selling wristbands (they’re pretty cool) and all the funds go to help Japan.  Also, if you buy anything from their store from now until April 30 the money goes directly to helping out Japan.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

1 NinjDroid 03.24.16 at 10:16 am

You worked so hard writing the article and it was sad seeing no comments here. You wrote pretty good. I got the info I was looking for. Thanks bro.

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