Many people don’t have the chance to see the inside of a nuclear plant. But, that doesn’t mean you can’t learn how one works. Learn the basics of nuclear energy, then watch the video below to discover how to make your own edible candy reactor.
In a nuclear-fueled power plant – much like a fossil-fueled power plant – water is turned into steam, which in turn drives turbine generators to produce electricity. At nuclear power plants, however, the source of heat comes from splitting uranium atoms – a process called fission.
There are two types of nuclear reactors in the U.S. – pressurized water reactors and boiling water reactors – that generate steam in a slightly different way.
Here’s how the process works.
- Nuclear fuel is placed in the reactor core. Energy from the splitting of the nuclear fuel heats water.
- In a pressurized water reactor, the heated water is circulated through tubes in steam generators, causing the water in the generators to turn into steam. In a boiling water reactor, water heated by fission actually boils and turns into steam.
- The energy from the steam is used to drive a turbine connected to a generator.
- The generator converts mechanical energy from the turbine into electrical energy.
- After passing through the turbine, the steam flows across a set of tubes containing cool lake or river water that condenses the steam for reuse.
By reliably providing power 24 hours a day, our six nuclear plants are an important part of the energy mix in the Carolinas. Learn more about how we generate carbon-free electricity with nuclear energy on our website.