Nuclear power is a complex but eco-friendly way to produce electricity.
Nuclear power plant is not just a power station that provides electricity. It’s a whole complex of interconnected industries.
First you need to mine raw uranium. In Russia, raw uranium is mined via drill hole in situ leaching. This is not an open process that carries out dust with high background radiation in the surrounding area, but a closed method.
As a result you get a material that contains uranium – uranium oxide.
In Russia, enrichment, in other words increasing the amount of uranium in the feed is produced using the most advanced gas centrifuge technology. The speed of a centrifugereaches tens of thousands of revolutions per minute. To get noticeable results centrifuges are linked in a whole series of successive stages. Moreover, the enrichment can be carried out using already outspent raw materials –it is determined by the cost of processing. In other words, waste is actually a stock of raw materials for the future.
More precisely, thought, enrichment is not about increasing the amount of uranium in the feed, but increasing the amount of the isotope uranium-235. Uranium-235 is the one that starts a nuclear chain reaction that creates energy. The most common types of nuclear reactors on NPPs work on uranium-235. The amount of the isotope uranium-235 in natural uranium is only 0.7%. This amount with the help of special unique centrifuges is brought up to 3-5% – this is low-enriched uranium.
There is also a reverse process, when highly enriched uranium from nuclear warheads is converted into low-enriched uranium which is suitable for nuclear power plants.
Produced in Russianuclear fuel for nuclear power plants is used in Russia, and it is also exported, for example, to the United States, where Russia is a major supplier (almost a monopoly) of low-enriched uranium for American nuclear power plants that provide electricity to every fifth household in the United States.
Altogether, Russia supplies uranium to 76 reactors in 14 different countries, excluding Russia.
Construction of Nuclear Power Plants
In the world there are 30 to 40 countries that have nuclear power plants. At the same time there are only a few countries that are able to design and build nuclear power plants, as well as to provide continued maintenance service.
Russia supplies the equipment, builds and services projects in more than 20 countries.
Today, Russia builds 37% of constructed power plants in the world (excluding the territory of Russia).
Additionally, Russia is the world’s only manufacturer of commercial reactors using high speed neutrons. Russia is also the world’s only manufacturer of reactor plants for icebreaker ships.
Operation of Nuclear Power Plants
In Russia there are 33 nuclear power plants. There are 26 more projects in different stages of implementation. Unlike production of diminishing hydrocarbon fuel (oil, natural gas, coal), the reserves of uranium fuel are high. In addition, nuclear power plants are much more environmentally friendly.
Even with known NPP accidents, cumulative negative effects are many times lower than from using oil, coal and natural gas. In addition, NPPs effectively fight the greenhouse effect that causes global warming with a real risk of killing billions of people.
In addition, the nuclear industry is more high-tech than using and processing mineral fuel. Renewable energy sources today are not yet economically justified. Although in Russia the share of renewable electricity in the total amount of produced electricity is relatively big – 16% and it will reach 21% by 2020.
NPP is organized as follows. In a nuclear reactor there is a controlled nuclear reaction with intense heat emission. The emitted heat warms up pressurized water. Due to the heat, the energy of the water increases, and vapor is formed, which turns a turbinegenerating electricity.
After that, the water returns for a new heating stage – the cycle is closed.
And electricity is then sent to a transformer station where it is converted into a user-friendly form and is passed on to consumers via power lines.
The main problem is how capture the most energy that is transmitted by a nuclear reactor to water.
In Russia, there were very successful solutions of this problem. The improvements in extracting energy are equivalent to 4 (!) new energy blocks, which means that more than 10% increase in produced electricity is achieved.
The List of active Nuclear Power Plants in Russia
The list was created as of 2014.
1 Balakovo NPP – 4 energy units
2 Beloyarsk NPP – 2 units + 1 is under construction
3 Bilibino NPP – 4 units
4 Kalinin NPP – 4 units
5 Kolskaya NPP – 4 units
6 Kursk NPP – 4 units
7 Leningrad NPP – 4 units + 2 are constructed
8 Novovoronezh NPP – 3 units
9 Rostov NPP – 2 units + 2 are constructed
10 Smolensk NPP – 3 units
Rostov nuclear power plant, Volgodonsk city, Block 1 and Block 2
Major company that is engaged in the full cycle of works for nuclear power plants in Russia is the state corporation Rosatom.
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