How does a nuclear power plant work?
They hit an atom with a neutron, which breaks the atom apart into smaller parts AND some more neutrons which will break apart other atoms.
Whenever an atom breaks apart that creates a lot of energy.
This energy in the form of heat heats up some water which turns into steam, which rotates a turbine, which is hooked up to a generator that turns the rotation into electricity.
a nuclear powerplant is effectively just a closed circuit waterboiler that is using forced **CONTROLLED** nuclear decay as its source of heat. the water that gets boiled in this circuit is turned into steam that isused ot spin a turbine(not unlike any other powerplant).
what makesthem Really good si the fact the nuclear fuel is a very efficient way to get a LOT of heat for a long time.
In the simplest of terms: we use heat from nuclear reaction to generate steam, the steam rotates turbine, turbine spins a generator, generator makes electricity.
To get more technical, nuclear reaction happens when an unstable atom falls apart, and causes other unstable atoms to fall apart. To make that reaction useful, we control it by having a moderator media and control material surround the nuclear material. Moderator media can be heavy water or graphite. It slows down the neutrons that are created when atom splits, so that they have a higher chance of interacting with other atoms (just quirky nuclear physics thing). Control media can be rods from neutron absorbing material, or regular water, or some chemicals like gadolinium or boron. Those materials capture neutrons, reducing the likehood of reactions. By maintaining a balance, we can sustain reaction at a level that allows it to be useful.
Then we capture the heat from the reactor by running water through channels inside reactor to heat it up, or use entire reactor as a boiler. There are quite a few methods of capturing the heat from reactor. The rest of nuclear plant is quite similar to any regular thermal power plant, as far as overal process of getting electricity goes.
I’m going to suggest the [explanation](https://youtu.be/Sm5p2K9eW9o?t=285) given by engineering experts at the Well There’s Problem podcast.
Tl;dr You get a bunch of spicy rocks that give off heat when you put a lot of them together and put them in water to turn the water into steam. The steam then turns a turbine that generates electricity.
The decay of certain atoms into smaller ones releases energy to the surrounding environment. Nuclear plants do two things:
* manage a controlled, self-sustaining chain reaction of atoms breaking down
* use that energy to heat water, evaporating it so that the steam can be used to spin a turbine