Nuclear Technology

Nuclear Technology:-The energy released by the change in the nucleus of atoms is known as nuclear energy. The changes in the nucleus of atoms are normally caused by either nuclear fusion or nuclear fission. 

The technology that manipulates such changes in the nucleus (nuclear reaction) of some specific elements and transforms them into energy is known as nuclear technology.

The energy released through the nuclear reaction is very high. For example, the fission of 1 kg of uranium-235 releases about 18.5 million kilowatt-hours of heat.

Nuclear reactions naturally occur in chain reactions and hence keep releasing energy in continuity. In 1942, the Italian physicist Enrico Fermi first successfully produced the nuclear chain reaction.

What is Nuclear Fuel?

Nuclear fuel is the element that is used in nuclear power plants to produce heat to power the turbines.

The following are the major fuel elements −

  • Uranium dioxide
  • Plutonium
  • Uranium nitride
  • Uranium carbide
  • Thorium 

Application of Nuclear Technology

Following are the areas where Nuclear Technology is applied −

  • Production of electric energy.
  • Nuclear technology is also used in different industries. For example, manufacturing plastics and sterilization of disposable products.
  • Manufacturing of nuclear weapons for the defense forces of the country.
  • Medicinal use. For example, radiotherapy for the treatment of malignant tumors.
  • Frequently used in the agricultural fields to control pests, maximize water resources, etc.

Used to reduce the environmental and health consequences of large-scale use of fossil fuels.

Advantages of Nuclear Energy Production

Following are the Advantages of Nuclear Energy Production −

  • Nuclear energy has the least impact on the environment, as it does not pollute air.
  • A nuclear plant does not require a very large area for setup.
  • Nuclear energy plant does not release greenhouse gases.
  • Once constructed and made operative, its maintenance cost is much cheaper

Disadvantages of Nuclear Energy Production

Following are the Disadvantages of Nuclear Energy Production −

  • It is very expensive to set up a nuclear plant.
  • Nuclear waste is very hazardous, as it remains radioactive for thousands of years.
  • Though it is rare, the nuclear accident is highly fatal. For example, the Chornobyl disaster (about 30 thousand people died).

Important Points About Nuclear Power in India

Consider the following points about Nuclear Power in India −

  • Nuclear power in India is the fourth-largest source of electricity after thermal, hydroelectric, and renewable sources (of electricity).
  • India has 22 nuclear reactors operating in 8 nuclear power plants.
  • The total installed capacity of nuclear power in India is 6780 MW. This produces 30,292.91 GWh of electricity.
  • 6 reactors are under construction, which is expected to produce an additional 4,300 MW of electricity.
  • The nuclear power plant of Jaitapur (located in Maharashtra) is planned to start in collaboration with France. It is a 9900 MW project.
  • The nuclear power plant of Kudankulam (located in Tamil Nadu) is an Indo-Russian collaboration. It is a 2000 MW project.
  • The Apsara nuclear research reactor was India’s first nuclear reactor inaugurated in 1957. This was set up with assistance from the UK.
  • India’s domestic uranium reserves are limited; hence, India imports uranium from Russia.
  • Some other countries with which India has uranium supply agreements are Argentina, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, and Namibia.

Furthermore, in 2011, the Atomic Minerals Directorate for Exploration and Research (AMD) of India discovered large deposits of uranium in the Tummalapalle belt located in the Bhima River basin in Karnataka.

Nuclear Power Plants in Operation

India Nuclear Program: Nuclear Milestones: 1945-2018 1945: The Tata Institute of Fundamental Research Mumbai is inaugurated. 1948: The Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) is established under the direction of Dr. Homi J. Bhabha. 1950: Indian Rare Earths Limited (IREL) is established as a joint venture between the Government of India and the Government of Travancore, Cochine. It is brought under the control of the Department of Atomic Energy in 1963. 1951: The first uranium deposit in India is discovered at Jaduguda. 1954: The Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) is created. 1957: India establishes the Atomic Energy Establishment, Trombay, which will be renamed the Bhabha Atomic Research Center (BARC) in 1967. 1962: Heavy water production begins at the German-built Nangal plant. 1963: The United States and India sign an accord stipulating that the United States will supply enriched fuel to India’s Tarapur nuclear power plant. 1967: Uranium mining operations begin at Jaduguda. A uranium mill is also established there. 1968: India refuses to join the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. 1968: Nuclear Fuel Complex is established at Hyderabad under the DAE. 1969: Heavy Water Projects is established under the DAE. It is later renamed the Heavy Water Board. 1971: India establishes the Reactor Research Centre under the DAE. It is later renamed Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research (IGCAR). May 1974: India conducts an underground nuclear explosion at Pokhran, Rajasthan. India describes the test, codenamed “Smiling Buddha,” as a “peaceful nuclear explosion.” Estimates of the yield range from 8 to 12 kilotons. May 1998: India conducts two rounds of nuclear weapon tests. After the first, Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee announces that “a fission device, a low-yield device, and a thermonuclear device” had been successfully tested in the Pokhran desert. Two days later.

Nuclear Reactor 

A nuclear reactor helps to carry out controlled chain reactions and also produces energy in a sustained manner. Produced energy can be used to produce electric energy.

Nuclear Fuel

Nuclear fuel is the fissionable material used in a nuclear reactor. Generally, U-233, U- 235, and Pu- 239 are taken as nuclear fuel in form of cylindrical rods arranged in a regular pattern in the active reactor core. 

Moderator

Slow-moving neutrons have more tendency to facilitate fission reactions rather than fast-moving neutrons. The average energy of neutrons produced in the fission of U-235 is 2 MeV. these are fast neutrons and have a low tendency to cause fission. In order to facilitate a fission reaction there is a need to slow down the neutrons. The job is done by moderators in nuclear reactors, In nuclear reactors water, solid graphite, or heavy water are used as moderators.

Control Rods

The rods have the ability to absorb neutrons. Therefore, the nuclear reaction can be controlled thereby bringing down the multiplication factor to unity.

Safety Rod

In addition, to control rods, the reactors are provided with safety rods. These rods can be inserted into the reactor in order to bring the value of K below unity. Hence, it keeps power generation safe.

READ MORE:-Isotopes

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