Koeberg Nuclear Power Station South Africa. Image credit melkbos.com

ZIMSEC O Level Geography Notes: Natural Resources: Energy: Nuclear power

  • Nuclear power production is similar to thermal power production in a number of ways.
  • Both require a fuel to heat water and convert it to steam.
  • However, in the case of nuclear power, the heat comes from radioactive substances such as uranium, plutonium and strontium.
  • These are at times enriched in order to activate chain reactions.
  • Pellets of the radioactive substances are placed in tubes.
  • An electric current is introduced and radioactivity is accelerated with the result that massive amounts of heat are generated.
  • This is the heat that boils the water converting it into steam and the steam, as in other thermal processes, is used to generate electricity.
  • The structure where the fuel pellets or rods are placed is called a nuclear reactor.
  • It is here where the atoms are separated or split (fissioning) or are bound together (fusioning).
  • The processing generating so much energy that steel and concrete shells containing heavy water or deutrerium must be built to cool the whole reactor.
  • This is to avoid it from melting down from the tremendous heat and a nuclear fall-out occurs.
  • This was the case in the Chenobyl disaster in the Ukraine in 1986.

To access more topics go to the O Level Geography Notes page