Full Title: Fundamentals of Nuclear Power
Author(s): Juan S. Giraldo
Publisher(s): State Utility Forecasting Group
Publication Date: 12/2012
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This report provides background on the current state of nuclear energy and consists of seven sections. Section one provides an overview of nuclear power generation in the U.S. and around the world. Section two offers an explanation of how nuclear power reactors are able to generate heat from the nuclear fission process, describes the two types of reactors, and describes the process of fabricating, using, and disposing of the nuclear fuel, which is a process known as the nuclear fuel cycle. Section three gives a description of the nuclear reactors that are currently operating both in the U.S. and around the world, a description of the new generation of reactors that are currently starting to be built, a description of a new concept for nuclear power generation, which is based on small modular reactors, and a brief description of the theoretical reactors that are expected to be built in the future. Section four discusses the costs of building a nuclear power plant and the economic competitiveness of nuclear power compared with other sources of generation. Section five gives a description of the licensing process for a nuclear plant and government incentives for the construction of nuclear plants. Section six describes the safety mechanisms that the nuclear industry uses to reduce the possibility of accidents and operate safely and lists some of the major commercial nuclear accidents. Section seven describes the final stage of a nuclear power plant, when it is decommissioned at the end of its generating life. A reference list, appearing the end of each section provides sources for more detail on the particular subject.