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LIVE INTERACTIVE LEARNING @ YOUR DESKTOP What's Cool About Nuclear Science – and Why Our Country Needs Nuclear Energy Presented by: Mark T. Peters and Justin Thomas January 25, 2012
What's Cool About Nuclear Science – and Why Our Country Needs Nuclear Energy Mark T. Peters Justin Thomas Deputy Laboratory Director for Programs Principal Nuclear Engineer Argonne National Laboratory National Nuclear Science Week January 25, 2012
What’s cool about nuclear science?
Why does our country need nuclear energy?
How will our future energy demands be met? Today: 15 terawatts(TW) Future: 30 TW (2030) to 50 TW (2100)
Nuclear energy: Best U.S. source of sustainable, reliable, affordable, plentiful electricity
Nuclear energy is the most widely used source of carbon-free electricity in the United States Wind: 2.3%Geothermal: 1.3%Solar: <0.05% Energy Information Administration, 2006 Annual Energy Review
Nuclear Fission Chain Reaction National Nuclear Science Week
Nuclear Fuel National Nuclear Science Week
Nuclear Electric Generation Source: http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/basic-ref/students/animated-pwr.html Heat sink U.S. nuclear plants produce electricity for 1.72 cents per kilowatt-hour, compared to 2.37 cents for coal and 6.75 cents for natural gas.
Nuclear Power Plant Coal Power Plant
How much fuel? • One metric ton (1000 kg) of nuclear fuel: • 50 Giga-Watt-days of thermal energy • 400 million kW-hours of electrical energy • According to the Energy Information Agency, average U.S. household electricity usage in 2008 was 920 kW-hours per month • How much fuel is required to power one family’s home for a month? • About 2 grams Mass of nuclear fuel required to generate enough electricity for an American family’s home for a month National Nuclear Science Week
Most of Used Fuel (a.k.a. “Nuclear Waste”) Is Still Useful About 965 kg of fissionable material remains National Nuclear Science Week
Current Reactors Are “Once-Through” Conventional Power Plant • Uranium ore is mined from the ground • Natural uranium is only 0.7% U-235. Enrichment increases the U-235 content to 4-5%. • Enriched uranium goes to fuel fabrication to make UO2 ceramic pellets. • After generating power in a reactor (4–6 years) used fuel may be disposed of in a geologic repository. National Nuclear Science Week
Fast Reactors Can Recycle Fuel Conventional Power Plant • Reduces need for mining • Conserves valuable resources • Enables reliable fuel services • Reduces repository burden • Reduces long-term toxicity Fast Reactor National Nuclear Science Week
Recycling Nuclear Fuel Reduces Its Toxicity (What was taken from the Earth) With recycling, used fuel becomes less toxic than what was removed from the ground in ~200 years. National Nuclear Science Week
Nuclear Power Plants Have Many Protections against Accidents • Containment building • Steel, reinforced concrete, or a combination • Missile protection, confines any radioactive release • Automated shutdown systems • Emergency core cooling systems • Redundancy and diversity in design • Defense in depth • Passive Safety • Relies on natural forces (e.g. gravity), rather than electrical pumps • Relies less on intervention by plant operators National Nuclear Science Week
Passive Safety? National Nuclear Science Week
Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) • Financing: Lower absolute overnight capital cost for low power plant • Fitness for small electricity grids, reduced design complexity, reduced impact of human factors and, perhaps, reduced infrastructure and staff requirements • May be a good choice for developing countries • An option of incremental capacity increase • Move generation closer to where electricity is needed • Option of operation without on-site refueling • Attractive for nonproliferation regime • Potential for enhanced safety mPower System Babcock & Wilcox 125 MWe capacity (example) National Nuclear Science Week
Modeling and Simulations • Nuclear reactor design relies heavily upon computer simulation to predict how a reactor will respond to adverse conditions • What will the reactor do when the power goes out? • What would happen if we increased the power a little? • How do we know that a computer model is realistic? • Compare models to experiment • Compare results from competing computer models • Example: Physics of fluid flow and heat transfer • Heat generated by nuclear fission must be removed by a cooling fluid (water), which then performs work on a turbine to convert the energy to electricity • Just above the core, this cooling fluid mixes in a large tank (or plenum) • Need to reduce any “hot spots” where a small area could have a higher than average temperature • Hot spots could damage the materials over a long time • The MAX experimental facility takes high-resolution measurements that can be compared to our simulation codes’ results for this problem National Nuclear Science Week
MAX Experimental Facility National Nuclear Science Week
Code Simulations of the MAX facility Velocity Predictions by the Nek5000 code Comparison of results from two simulation codes (Nek5000 and STAR-CCM+) National Nuclear Science Week
MAX1 MAX2 Simulation Results: Small perturbation yields big change in jet behavior Unstable jet, with low-frequency (20 – 30 s) oscillations Visualization shows change due to jet / cross-flow interaction MAX2 results NOT predicted by steady RANS (URANS ok) Major Difference in Jet Behavior for Minor Design Change National Nuclear Science Week
For more info… • Nuclear energy learning resources: • http://students.ne.anl.gov/schools/ • For students at or below high school level and their teachers. Resources that will help you find information on how nuclear reactors work, what makes certain materials radioactive, the importance of nuclear energy in the 21st century, and many other nuclear energy topics. • Argonne’s Nuclear Engineering Division • http://students.ne.anl.gov/outreach/ • http://www.facebook.com/NuclearEngineeringAtArgonne • email@example.com • Student programs in nuclear energy at Argonne • http://students.ne.anl.gov/students/ • Find out about the programs Argonne has for students just graduating from high school or in college. National Nuclear Science Week
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National Science Teachers Association Dr. Francis Q. Eberle, Executive Director Zipporah Miller, Associate Executive Director Conferences and Programs Al Byers, Assistant Executive Director e-Learning NSTA Web Seminars Paul Tingler, Director Jeff Layman, Technical Coordinator Brynn Slate, Program Coordinator LIVE INTERACTIVE LEARNING @ YOUR DESKTOP