How a nuke plant really works

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I’ve said this on past broadcasts, but lux has marked up a diagram. My only quibble is that I don’t see why there’s any need to send out electricity, since we can’t see its direction. All they have to do is let off some steam here and there. Heck, some even have the odd windmill nearby that I am sure is plugged in to the plant to make the turbines turn.

I just had a little thought about the . As has already been mentioned, nuke power stations are suspected of being “dump loads,” that is, electrical “loads” (resistance devices) which simply burn up excess electrical current.


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1 thought on “How a nuke plant really works

  1. lux

    Thank you for featuring my CF post. I am a fan of your blog.

    The reason I think these nuke power plants might really output power is that someone has to be on the other end of that output — engineers located at substations, distribution points, etc. who monitor the power flow. And, since these are not generally high security facilities, it would be difficult to control their staffing to ensure security concerning what was really going on.

    Another point is that I think there has been a misunderstanding about detecting the direction of current flow. Somebody somewhere apparently said it’s very difficult to determine the direction of current flow and that is simply not true. This might be true in some few circumstances but in this case it’s quite easy actually.

    There are two types of current — AC and DC. AC is alternating current and it moves in BOTH directions so there really is no single direction for AC. However, if one were to, say, have a radio plugged into a wall outlet and the radio was playing then one would know the direction of the power was from your outlet to the radio and not vice versa. This is because radios cannot produce electrical power but wall outlets can. Simple.

    In the same way, electrical engineers at power facilities could easily tell if power were coming in or going out simply because they have no hardware capable of producing the power, only for stepping up or down its voltage or for distribution. So, they can easily tell that the power is coming in because the reverse would not be possible with the hardware they have. They can also see it on their instruments as they pass it through filtering circuits or voltage altering transformers, etc. so the direction is obvious to them. Normally, the power produced by a generator at any power station is AC current.

    In the case of DC (direct current) there is a single direction of electrical flow and this direction is easy to test in a number of ways — for example, by metering its polarity or by passing it through a simple device called a diode or rectifier which only allows current to flow in one direction.

    These are very simple procedures that any first year electronics student would be familiar with so there is nothing difficult or arcane about determining the direction of electrical power flow.


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