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IntroductionCurrently there are 448 active nuclear reactors. These reactors supply more than 11% of the total energy in the world. Sixteen countries depend on nuclear power for at least a quarter of their electricity (IAEA PRIS, 2017). France relies on nuclear power to provide three quarters of its energy. Some see nuclear energy for the tragedies it was involved in, such as the one in Fukushima. Other see it as a low carbon alternative for fossil fuels. The question remains, should there be more nuclear reactors? This essay will weigh the impacts of nuclear power plants and will evaluate whether or not they are the correct choice for energy production. Economic gain by nuclear power plants will be evaluated and compared to other. cleaner energy production methods. Social views on nuclear power plants will be discussed and the effects nuclear reactors have on the environment will be explained. Context will be given on nuclear reactors to give the reader all the information needed to formulate a correct opinion.FissionNuclear reactors use nuclear fission to generate energy. A nucleus of an atom splits into smaller nuclei in this reaction. Some neutrons are also released. This happens when a neutron hits one the nuclei. The released neutrons may hit other smaller nuclei and this creates a chain. Nuclear reactors control this chain by placing control rods between the nuclear fuel. These rods absorb some of the neutrons so the reaction doesn’t get out of hand. This reaction releases energy and this energy is gathered in several different ways. This ‘fuel’that is being split is usually uranium-235 or plutonium-239 because of their large nuclei that are relatively simple to split. Types of Nuclear ReactorsThere are multiple types of nuclear reactors. Efficiency, cost, total energy production and purpose of these reactors change with each type. The table below shows the nuclear power plants that are commercially operational and operable (WNA, 2018).As seen in the table, pressurized water reactors and boiling water reactors are used the most. These reactors are under the category of light water reactors as they use normal water as a coolant and a moderator. These types of reactors will be the main priority in this analysis as they are used the most often.Light Water ReactorsAs said before, these rectors use normal water as a coolant and a neutron moderator to reduce the speed of fast moving neutrons.The reaction takes place in the reactor core. The core contains nuclear fuel rods that are pencil thin and are 3.7m long (Zarubin, 2016). These rods are grouped by the hundreds in bundles called fuel assemblies and are filled fuel such as enriched uranium. The control rods are lowered into the reactor to capture some of the neutrons which are absorbed so that the reaction can be controlled. When the control rods are lifted out of the core, the chain reaction is allowed to intensify without the control rods blocking them. The heat generated from the nuclear fission converts water to steam, which is then used to drive power generating turbines. The water i later put into condenser which converts it back to liquid water so it can be used again. Pressurized and boiling water reactors follow these principles but have slight variations of their own.

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