What is a Nuclear Power Plant : Working & Its Applications

The heat energy in the nuclear power plant can be generated through a nuclear reaction or nuclear fission. The heavy elements of nuclear fission are Uranium/Thorium is carried out within a special device called a nuclear reactor. A huge amount of energy can be generated because of nuclear fission. The rest parts within the nuclear, as well as conventional thermal plants, are the same. The fission of 1 Kg Uranium generates heat energy which is equal to the energy generated through 4500 tons of high-grade coal. This significantly decreases the fuel transportation cost, so it is a major benefit of these plants. Worldwide, there are huge deposits of fuels existing; therefore, these plants can supply electrical energy continuously for hundreds of years. Nuclear power plants generate 10% of the electricity from the whole electricity in the world

What is a Nuclear Power Plant?

Definition: The power plant that is used to warm the water to generate steam, then this steam can be used for rotating huge turbines for generating electricity. These plants use the heat to warm the water which is generated by nuclear fission. So the atoms in the nuclear fission will split into different smaller atoms for generating energy. The nuclear power plant diagram is shown below.

Nuclear Power Plant Working Principle

In the power plant, the fission takes place in the reactor and the middle of the reactor is known as the core that includes uranium fuel, and this can be formed into pellets of ceramic. Every pellet generates 150 gallons of oil energy. The total energy generated from the pellets is stacked in metal fuel rods. A bunch of these rods is known as a fuel assembly and a reactor core includes several fuel assemblies.

During nuclear fission, the heat can be generated within the core of the reactor. This heat can be used to warm the water into steam so that turbine blades can be activated. Once the turbine blades activated then they drive the generators to make electricity. In a power plant, a cooling tower is available to cool the steam into the water otherwise they use the water from different resources. Finally, the cooled water can be reused to generate steam.


Components of Nuclear Power Plant

In the above nuclear power plant block diagram, there are different components which include the following.

Nuclear Reactor

In a power plant, a nuclear reactor is an essential component like a heat source that includes the fuel & its reaction of nuclear chain including the waste products of nuclear. The nuclear fuel used in the nuclear reactor is Uranium & its reactions are heat generated in a reactor. Then, this heat can be transferred to the coolant of the reactor to generate heat to all the parts in the power plant.


There are different types of nuclear reactors that are used in the manufacturing of plutonium, ships, satellites & aircraft for research as well as medical purposes. The power plant includes not only includes the reactor and also includes turbines, generators, cooling towers, a variety of safety systems.

Steam Generation

In all the power plants, the production of steam is general; however, the way of generating will change. Most of the plants use water reactors by using two loops of rotating water to generate steam. The primary loop carries very hot water for heating an exchange once water at a low-pressure is circulated, then it warms the water to generate the steam to transmit to the turbine section.

Generator & Turbine

Once the steam is generated, then it travels with high pressures to speed up the turbine. The rotating of the turbines can be used to rotate an electric generator for generating electricity that is transmitted to the electrical grid.

Cooling Towers

In a nuclear power plant, the most essential part is a cooling tower which is used to reduce the heat of the water. Please refer to this link to know more about what is a cooling tower – components, construction & applications

Working of Nuclear Power Plant

The elements like Uranium or Thorium are sued nuclear fission reaction of a nuclear reactor. Because of this fission, a huge amount of heat energy can be generated and it is transmitted to the coolant reactor. Here, the coolant is nothing but water, liquid metal otherwise gas. The water is heated to flow in a heat exchanger so that it changes into high-temperature steam. Then the steam which is produced is permitted to make a steam turbine run. Again the steam can be changed back into the coolant & recycled to use for the heat exchanger. So, the turbine and alternator are connected to produce electricity. By using a transformer, the electricity which is produced can be increased to use in long-distance communication.

The Efficiency of the Nuclear Power Plant

The nuclear power plant efficiency can be decided equally to other heat engines because technically the plant is a large heat engine. The sum of electric power generated for every unit of thermal power will provide the plant is thermal efficiency & because of the thermodynamics second law, there is a higher limit to how efficient these power plants can be.

The normal nuclear power plants attain efficiencies approximately 33 to 37%, equivalent to fossil-fueled plants. High temperature & more current designs such as the Generation IV reactors could acquire above 45% efficiency.

Types of Nuclear Power Plant

There are two types of nuclear power plants such as pressurized water reactor and boiling water reactor.

Pressurized Water Reactor

In this kind of reactor, regular water is used as a coolant. This is kept at extremely high force so that it does not get a boil. A heat exchanger in this reactor transfers the heated water where the water from the secondary coolant circle is changed into vapor. Therefore, this loop is totally free from the material of radioactive. In this reactor, the coolant water works as a moderator. Because of these benefits, these reactors are used most frequently.

Boiling Water Reactor

In this kind of reactor, a single coolant loop is only available. The water is permissible to heat within the reactor. The steam is produced from the reactor when it heads out from the reactor & the steam will flow throughout the steam turbine. The main drawback of this reactor is, the coolant water approaches the fuel rods & the turbine. So, radioactive material could be located over the turbine.

Site Selection for Nuclear Power Plant

The selection of the site for nuclear PowerPoint can be done by considering the technical requirement. The arrangement and working of a nuclear power plant mainly depend on the characteristics of the site.
While designing the plant, the risks from the site must be considered. The plant design has to handle with tremendous natural occurrence & human-induced actions, without damaging the operational security of the plant.

Each site has to give needed necessities like discarded and decay heat sinks, power supply availability, excellent communications and efficient crisis management, etc. For a power plant, the estimate of the site typically occupies different stages like selection, characterization, pre-operational, and operational.

Nuclear Power Plants in India

There seven nuclear power plants in India which include the following.

  • Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant, located in Tamil Nadu
  • Tarapur Nuclear Reactor, located in Maharashtra
  • Rajasthan Atomic Power Plant, located in Rajasthan
  • Kaiga Atomic Power Plant, located in Karnataka
  • Kalapakkam Nuclear Power Plant, located in Tamil Nadu
  • Narora Nuclear Reactor, located in Uttar Pradesh
  • Kakarapar Atomic Power Plant, located in Gujarat


The advantages of nuclear power plants include the following.

  • It uses less space compared with other power plants
  • It is extremely economical and generates huge electric power.
  • These plants are located near the load center because there is no requirement of huge fuel.
  • It generates a huge amount of power in the process of each nuclear fission
  • It uses less fuel to generate huge energy
  • Its operation is reliable
  • When compared with steam power plants, it is very clean and neat
  • The operating cost is small
  • It doesn’t produce polluting gases


The disadvantages of nuclear power plants include the following.

  • The cost of primary installation is extremely high when compared with other power stations.
  • The nuclear fuel is expensive so recovering is difficult
  • High capital cost compare with other power plants
  • Technical knowledge is required to operate this plat. So maintenance, as well as salary, will be high.
  • There is a chance of radioactive pollution
  • The response is not efficient
  • The requirement of cooling water is double compare with a steam power plant.


The applications of nuclear power plants include the following.

Nuclear energy is used in different industries all over the world for desalination of ocean water, production of hydrogen, district cooling/heating, the removal of tertiary oil resources & used in heat process applications like cogeneration, conversion of coal to liquids & help in the chemical feedstock synthesis.


1). What is a nuclear power plant?

This is a thermal power station that uses a nuclear reactor as a heat source. The generated heat can be used to drive a turbine that is connected to a generator o generate electricity.

2), In India, how many nuclear plants are there?

There are seven nuclear plants available in India

3). Which state in the USA has more power plants?


4). What is the world’s biggest power plant?

Currently, the “Kashiwazaki-Kariwa power plant” in Japan is the world’s largest power plant.

5). What is the safest design for nuclear reactors?

The SMR (small modular reactor) is the safest design.

6). What are the common types of nuclear power plants?

These are available in two type’s namely pressurized water & boiling water reactor

7). What are the components used in a nuclear power plant?

They are nuclear reactors, steam generation, cooling tower, turbine, generator, etc.

Thus, this is all about an overview of nuclear power plants. In India, nuclear power plants generate 6.7GW of energy by contributing 2% of electricity in the country. The control of these plants in India can be done through NPCIL – Nuclear Power Corporation of India. Here is a question for you, what is the famous nuclear power plant in India?