Nuclear Power Plant Diagram: A Complete Guide 2023

Nuclear power plant diagram

Cheap and abundant power is essential to the modern world in the coming years. The adoption of nuclear energy for the generation of power is inevitable to nations where other sources of generation are inadequate. Extracting power from nuclear fuel has now become a need, to meet the increasing energy demands and for the economic growth of a country. One of the outstanding facts about nuclear power is the largest amount of energy that can be released from a small mass of active materials.

A nuclear power plant is a thermal power station that generates electricity using heat from nuclear reactions. In this article, we read about nuclear power plant diagram, working principles, and applications. Read this new blog in Linquip to find out more.

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Nuclear power plant diagram

Nuclear power plant

A nuclear power plant is a facility that converts atomic energy into usable power. Nuclear power plants are responsible for generating electricity. Nuclear energy now provides about 11% of the world’s electricity from about 450 power reactors. The heat produced by a reactor is generally used to drive a turbine which in turn drives an electric generator. The nuclear power plant provides the energy that can be successfully employed for producing low-cost electrical energy on a large scale to meet the growing commercial and industrial demands.

Nuclear power plant diagram

To have a nuclear power plant diagram explanation, first, we should know that every nuclear power plant consists of the following main parts, which are mentioned below:

  • Nuclear reactor
  • Heat exchanger
  • Steam turbine 
  • Alternator
  • Condenser and cooling tower
  • Feedwater heater

Nuclear power plant diagram

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  • Nuclear reactor

Nuclear reactor is the main component of a nuclear power plant and nuclear fuel is subjected to nuclear fission. The reactor is the heat source for the power plant, just like the boiler is for a coal plant. A nuclear reactor is a machine that contains and controls nuclear chain reactions while releasing heat at a controlled rate. Nuclear generated steam can be used for industrial process heat and besides their use in power generation, other types of nuclear reactors are used for plutonium manufacturing, the propulsion of ships, aircraft, and satellites, along with research and medical purposes.

Uranium is the dominant nuclear fuel used in nuclear reactors, and its fission reactions are what produce the heat within a reactor. This heat is then transferred to the reactor’s coolant, which provides heat to other parts of the nuclear power plant. According to the nuclear reactor diagram, the followings are the main parts of a nuclear reactor:

  • Nuclear fuels
  • Moderator
  • Control rods
  • Reflectors
  • Shielding
  • Reactor pressure vessel
  • Heat exchanger
  • Coolant
  • Turbine
  • Condenser
  • Cooling tower
  • Water treatment chamber
  • Heat exchanger

The coolant gives up the heat to the heat exchanger which is utilized in raising the steam. After giving up the heat, the coolant is again fed to the reactor.

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  • Steam Turbine

The generated steam is passed through a steam turbine, which runs due to the pressure of the steam. As the steam is passed through the turbine blades, the pressure of steam gradually decreases and it expands in volume. The steam turbine is coupled to an alternator through a rotating shaft.

  • Alternator

The steam turbine rotates the shaft of an alternator thus generating electrical energy. The electrical output of the alternator is delivered to a step-up transformer to transfer it over distances

  • Condenser and cooling tower

The steam coming out of the turbine, after it has done its work, is then converted back into the water in a condenser. The steam is cooled by passing it through a third cold water loop. The cooling towers are used here to convert the hot water or steam exhausted from the turbine into normal water. Its temperature decreases at normal temperature.

  • Feedwater heater

The feedwater heater allows the feedwater to be brought up to the saturation temperature very gradually. This minimizes the inevitable irreversibilities associated with heat transfer to the working fluid.

Nuclear power plant diagram

Nuclear power plant operation

As you may know, working of the nuclear power plant, the nuclear reactor’s function is to produce heat at high temperatures. For producing heat the reactor uses, nuclear fuel which is uranium or thorium, when the slowly moving neutrons hit the nuclear fuel it produces heat. This heat passes to the heat exchanger; another input to this heat exchanger is heated water. The water is heated with the help of the feedwater heater. The main function of the heat exchanger is to produce steam at high pressure. As the nuclear power plant diagram shows, this high-pressure steam passes to the steam turbine.

When this steam flows towards the turbine it starts rotating, the turbine and alternator are coupled mechanically. By using a transformer, the electricity which is produced can be increased to use in long-distance communication. Simultaneously alternator starts rotating and producing electricity that flows out to the power grid, and our homes, shops, offices, and factories. The exhaust hot steam is passed to the condenser, where it is condensed by using the cooling tower, and it is again passing to the heat exchanger through the feedwater heater. This process is continued. This is a very basic nuclear power plant working principle.

The nuclear power plant uses

The applications of nuclear power plants include the following.

  • Generating electric energy
  • Desalination of ocean water
  • Production of hydrogen
  • District cooling/heating
  • Remove the tertiary oil resources
  • Heat process applications like cogeneration, conversion of coal to liquids
  • Helping the chemical feedstock synthesis

So there you have a detailed description of the typical diagram and working of a nuclear power plant. If you enjoyed this article in Linquip, let us know by leaving a reply in the comment section. Is there any question we can help you through? Feel free to sign up on our website to get the most professional advice from our experts.

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