Monday, July 16, 2012

Nuclear power

Continuing on with our series on energy, a nuclear power plant also involves heating up water to make steam to drive turbines to make electricity. The difference here is that the heat energy comes from a nuclear chain reaction. As one unstable nucleus undergoes fission, i.e. breaks apart, it spits out subatomic particles that crash into other nuclei. These break apart and spit out more particles, that hit even more nuclei, etc etc etc. Each step of this process produces energy. If this is controlled it is a power plant, if uncontrolled it is an atomic bomb. A BrickCon 2009 attendee built this nuclear power plant. The reactor core is in the bottom left, driving a turbine in the bottom right. He should have included a little Homer Simpson fig in the control room in the upper left. I'm guessing the upper right is a cooling tower.

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