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Nuclear Energy. Professor Stephen Lawrence Leeds School of Business University of Colorado at Boulder. Overview of Nuclear Energy Nuclear Physics Nuclear Fuel Nuclear Power Plants Radiation Nuclear Waste Nuclear Safety. Nuclear Power and the Environment Nuclear Power Economics

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Nuclear Energy

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nuclear energy

Nuclear Energy

Professor Stephen Lawrence

Leeds School of Business

University of Colorado at Boulder

Overview of Nuclear Energy

Nuclear Physics

Nuclear Fuel

Nuclear Power Plants


Nuclear Waste

Nuclear Safety

Nuclear Power and the Environment

Nuclear Power Economics

Nuclear Power – Pro & Con

Future of Nuclear Power

world nuclear power plants
World Nuclear Power Plants

electric power generation
Electric Power Generation

electric consumption profile
Electric Consumption Profile

us nuclear generation trends
US Nuclear Generation Trends

nuclear binding energy
Nuclear Binding Energy

nuclear binding energy 2
Nuclear Binding Energy 2

Maximum Stability (Iron)

nuclear fission
Nuclear Fission

nuclear chain reaction
Nuclear Chain Reaction


creating uranium fuel
Creating Uranium Fuel
  • 50,000 tonnes of ore from mine
  • 200 tonnes of uranium oxide concentrate (U3O8)
    • Milling process at mine
  • 25 tonnes of enriched uranium oxide
    • uranium oxide is converted into a gas, uranium hexafluoride (UF6),
    • Every tonne of uranium hexafluoride separated into about 130 kg of enriched UF6 (about 3.5% U-235) and 870 kg of 'depleted' UF6 (mostly U-238).
    • The enriched UF6 is finally converted into uranium dioxide (UO2) powder
    • Pressed into fuel pellets which are encased in zirconium alloy tubes to form fuel rods.
sources of uranium
Sources of Uranium

world uranium production
World Uranium Production

nuclear power plants27
Nuclear Power Plants
  • Work best at constant power
    • Excellent for baseload power
  • Power output range of 40 to 2000 MW
    • Current designs are 600 to1200 MW
  • 441 licensed plants operating in 31 countries
  • Produce about 17% of global electrical energy
nuclear pp cooling tower
Nuclear PP Cooling Tower

core of nuclear reactor
Core of Nuclear Reactor

nuclear pp control room
Nuclear PP Control Room

idea of a nuclear power plant
Idea of a Nuclear Power Plant


Spinning turbine blades and generator

Boiling water

nuclear heat
Nuclear Heat



Steam produced




controlling chain reaction
Controlling Chain Reaction



Control rods

Withdraw control rods,

reaction increases

Insert control rods,

reaction decreases

boiling water reactor bwr
Boiling Water Reactor (BWR)
  • Reactor core creates heat
  • Steam-water mixture is produced when very pure water (reactor coolant) moves upward through the core absorbing heat
  • The steam-water mixture leaves the top of the core and enters the two stages of moisture separation where water droplets are removed before the steam is allowed to enter the steam line
  • Steam line directs the steam to the main turbine causing it to turn the turbine generator, which produces electricity.
pressurized water reactor pwr
Pressurized Water Reactor (PWR)
  • Reactor core generates heat
  • Pressurized-water in the primary coolant loop carries the heat to the steam generator
  • Inside the steam generator heat from the primary coolant loop vaporizes the water in a secondary loop producing steam
  • The steam line directs the steam to the main turbine causing it to turn the turbine generator, which produces electricity
reactor safety design
Reactor Safety Design

Containment Vessel

1.5-inch thick steel

Shield Building Wall

3 foot thick reinforced concrete

Dry Well Wall

5 foot thick reinforced concrete

Bio Shield

4 foot thick leaded concrete with

1.5-inch thick steel lining inside and out

Reactor Vessel

4 to 8 inches thick steel

Reactor Fuel

Weir Wall

1.5 foot thick concrete


Source: Nuclear Engineering International handbook 1999, but including Pickering A in Canada.

advanced research designs
Advanced Research Designs
  • Generation IV Reactors
    • Gas cooled fast reactor
    • Lead cooled fast reactor
    • Molten salt reactor
    • Sodium-cooled fast reactor
    • Supercritical water reactor
    • Very high temperature reactor

sstar design
SSTAR Design
  • SSTAR – Small, sealed, transportable, autonomous reactor
  • Fast breeder reactor
  • Tamper resistant, passively safe, self-contained fuel source (U238)
  • 30 year life
  • Produce constant power of 10-100 MW
    • 15m high × 3 m wide; 500 tonnes
  • Prototype expected by 2015

sstar schematic
SSTAR Schematic

types of radiation
Types of Radiation

types of radiation48
Types of Radiation
  • Alpha radiation
    • Cannot penetrate the skin
    • Blocked out by a sheet of paper
    • Dangerous in the lung
  • Beta radiation
    • Can penetrate into the body
    • Can be blocked out by a sheet of aluminum foil
  • Gamma radiation
    • Can go right through the body
    • Requires several inches of lead or concrete, or a yard or so of water, to block it.
  • Neutron radiation
    • Normally found only inside a nuclear reactor

measuring radioactivity
Measuring Radioactivity
  • Half-Life
    • The time for a radioactive source to lose 50% of its radioactivity
    • For each half-life time period, radioactivity drops by 50%
      • 1/2; 1/4; 1/8; 1/16; 1/32; 1/64; 1/128; 1/256; …
      • A half-life of 1 year means that radioactivity drops to <1% of its original intensity in seven years
  • Intensity vs. half-life
    • Intense radiation has a short half life, so decays more rapidly
handling nuclear waste
Handling Nuclear Waste
  • Waste Reprocessing
    • Recondition for further use as fuel
  • Waste Disposal
    • Temporary storage
    • Permanent disposal (usually burial)
waste disposal funding
Waste Disposal Funding
  • Funded by power customers
  • 0.1 cent per kWh
  • About $18 billion collected to date
  • About $6 billion has been spent
    • Yucca Mountain, elsewhere

nuclear fuel cycle
Nuclear Fuel Cycle

decay of nuclear pp waste
Decay of Nuclear PP Waste

nuclear waste reprocessing
Nuclear Waste Reprocessing
  • Separates usable elements (uranium, plutonium) from spent nuclear reactor fuels
  • Usable elements are then reused in a nuclear reactor
  • Other waste products (e.g., radioactive isotopes) must be disposed of
nuclear waste disposal
Nuclear Waste Disposal
  • Cooled in a spent fuel pool
    • 10 to 20 years
  • Onsite temporary dry storage
    • Until permanent site becomes available
  • Central permanent buried disposal
spent fuel cooling pool
Spent Fuel Cooling Pool

fuel rod storage
Fuel Rod Storage

dry storage cask
Dry Storage Cask


dry cask construction
Dry Cask Construction

dry cask durability
Dry Cask Durability

waste burial
Waste Burial
  • Immobilize waste in an insoluble matrix
    • E.g. borosilicate glass, Synroc (or leave them as uranium oxide fuel pellets - a ceramic)
  • Seal inside a corrosion-resistant container
    • Usualy stainless steel
  • Locate deep underground in stable rock
  • Site the repository in a remote location.
  • Most radioactivity decays within 1,000 years
    • Remaining radioactivity similar to that of the naturally-occurring uranium ore, though more concentrated

yucca mountain burial site
Yucca Mountain Burial Site

yucca mountain nv
Yucca Mountain, NV

yucca mountain cross section
Yucca Mountain Cross Section

entrance to yucca mountain
Entrance to Yucca Mountain

interior of yucca mountain
Interior of Yucca Mountain

yucca mountain one opinion
Yucca Mountain – One Opinion

three mile island pa
Three Mile Island, PA

three mile island accident
Three Mile Island Accident
  • March 28, 1979
  • Partial core meltdown over 5 days
    • Main feedwater pumps failed
    • Backup feedwater system was inoperative
    • Instrumentation failed; operators unaware
    • Should region around TMI be evacuated?
  • No fatalities; little radiation exposure
  • Cleanup lasted 14 years; cost $975 million
  • Public confidence shaken
    • 51 US nuclear reactor orders cancelled 1980-84

chernobyl accident
Chernobyl Accident
  • April 26, 1986
  • Pripyat, Ukraine
  • Catastrophic steam explosion
    • Destroyed reactor
    • Plume of radioactive fallout spread far
      • USSR, eastern Europe, Scandinavia, UK, eastern US
      • Belarus, Ukraine, and Russia hit hardest
    • 56 direct deaths; ~4,000 long-term deaths
    • 200,000 people evacuated and resettled

chernobyl accident76
Chernobyl Accident

causes of chernobyl
Causes of Chernobyl
  • No containment building
  • Poor reactor design (unsafe)
    • Inserting control rods initially increased reactor energy generation
  • Operators were careless & violated plant procedures
    • Switched off many safety systems
    • Withdrew too many control rods
  • Causes still in dispute by various parties
chernobyl contamination
Chernobyl Contamination

recent us auto scrams
Recent US Auto Scrams

us sources of clean energy
US Sources of Clean Energy

the environment
The Environment
  • Over the past 50 years, US Nuclear Plants Have:
  • Generated 13.7 Trillion Kilowatt-Hours of Electricity
  • Zero Carbon Depletion & Zero Emissions
  • Avoiding:
  • 3.1 Billion Metric Tons of Carbon
  • 73.6 Million Tons Sulfur Dioxide
  • 35.6 Million Tons of Nitrogen Oxides
greenhouse gas production
Greenhouse Gas Production

voluntary co 2 reductions
Voluntary CO2 Reductions

emissions avoided
Emissions Avoided

life cycle emissions analysis
Life Cycle Emissions Analysis

Emissions Produced by 1 kWh of Electricity Based on Life-Cycle Analysis

nuclear operating performance
Nuclear Operating Performance


Capacity Factor


RecordPerformance778 Billion kWhrs












nuclear generating costs
Nuclear Generating Costs

2002 Dollars


Capital Improve













us nuclear production costs
US Nuclear Production Costs

us capacity factors 2004
US Capacity Factors (2004)

disadvantages of nuclear power
Disadvantages of Nuclear Power
  • Possibly disastrous accidents
  • Nuclear waste dangerous for thousands of years
    • unless reprocessed
  • Risk of nuclear proliferation associated with some designs
  • High capital costs
  • Long construction periods
    • largely due to regulatory delays
  • High maintenance costs
  • High cost of decommissioning plants
  • Designs of current plants are all large-scale
anti nuclear ad
Anti-Nuclear Ad

advantages of nuclear power
Advantages of Nuclear Power
  • Substantial base load energy producing capability
  • No greenhouse gas emissions during operation
  • Does not produce air pollutants
  • The quantity of waste produced is small
  • Small number of major accidents
    • only one (TMI) in types of plants in common use
  • Low fuel costs; Large fuel reserves
  • Ease of transport and stockpiling of fuel
  • Future designs may be small and modular
    • For example, SSTAR

new nuclear plants inevitable
New Nuclear Plants Inevitable
  • It is no longer a matter of debate whether there will be new nuclear plants in the industry’s future. Now, the discussion has shifted to predictions of how many, where and when.
  • New nuclear plants and base-load power plants using new coal technologies are least likely to appear in the populous and energy-hungry Northeast or in California, regions that already have significantly higher energy prices than the Southeast and Midwest
  • These differences will tend to favor lower energy prices in the Southeast and Midwest to the disadvantage of the Northeast and California.
    • Fitch Ratings Ltd., “Wholesale Power Market Update,” March 13, 2006

g 8 energy ministers
G-8 Energy Ministers
  • G-8 Energy Ministers Call Nuclear Energy Crucial to Environmentally Sustainable Diversification of Energy Supply
    • Ministers proceed from the fact that diversification of the energy portfolio in terms of energy sources, suppliers and consumers as well as delivery methods and routes will reduce energy security risks not only for individual countries but for the entire international community.
    • For those countries that wish, wide-scale development of safe and secure nuclear energy is crucial for long-term environmentally sustainable diversification of energy supply
      • G8 Energy Ministerial Meeting, March 15-16, 2006, Moscow

greenpeace founder for np
Greenpeace Founder for NP
  • Greenpeace Founder Patrick Moore Speaks in Favor of Nuclear Energy at U.N. Climate Change Conference
    • There is now a great deal of scientific evidence showing nuclear power to be an environmentally sound and safe choice,” Moore has said, adding that calls to phase out both coal and nuclear power worldwide are unrealistic. “There are simply not enough available forms of alternative energy to replace both of them together. Given a choice between nuclear on the one hand and coal, oil and natural gas on the other, nuclear energy is by far the best option, as it emits neither CO2 nor any other air pollutants.”

nuclear binding energy106
Nuclear Binding Energy

fission vs fusion
Fission vs. Fusion

tokamak fusion design
Tokamak Fusion Design

nuclear pp schematic
Nuclear PP Schematic

nuclear pp cutaway
Nuclear PP Cutaway

pressurized water reactor pwr114
Pressurized Water Reactor (PWR)

boiling water reactor bwr115
Boiling Water Reactor (BWR)

latest us design
Latest US Design

Next Generation Reactors

  • Design Highlights
    • 1,400 MWe Plant With Simplified Systems
    • Passive Safety Features
  • Overall Schedule
    • Licensing Process Started 2002
    • Regulatory Approval Expected 2006
  • Key Benefits
    • Faster Construction, Lower Costs
    • Improved Safety and Security
    • Improved O&M Costs


ESBWR Can Meet U.S. Owner’s New Needs


global power generation
Global Power Generation


2003 – 2006 Orders Forecast


Rest of Asia








Source: EPM S1 Forecast

335 GW Market Potential over Next 4 Years35% of Orders Come from China