Nuclear power plants need water: Water is essential to sustaining human life. It's also essential to the production of electricity at nuclear power plants
which are designed to use as little water as possible. Transferring heat (water circulates through the core of the reactor and picks up heat given off through the fission process). The most common types of nuclear power plants use water for cooling in two ways: To convey heat from the reactor core to the steam turbines. To remove and dump surplus heat from this steam circuit.
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Nuclear desalination has been defined as the use of both electricity and heat generated by nuclear power plants to remove salt and minerals from seawater. It has accumulated a couple of hundred reactor years of successful operations around the globe. Small and medium-sized nuclear reactors are suitable for desalination, often with cogeneration of electricity using low-pressure steam from the turbine and hot sea water feed from the final cooling system.
The average nuclear plant withdrew nearly eight times as much freshwater as the average natural gas plant and 11 per cent more than the average coal plant. Nuclear plants also consumed three times as much freshwater as natural gas per unit of electricity produced, and about 4 per cent more freshwater than coal plants.
Removing radiation from the water: In many cases, a combination of treatment methods, including carbon filtration, ion-exchange water softening, and reverse osmosis, is most effective.
Nuclear plants reuse water: Electric generating plants have moved toward cooling systems that reuse water, mainly because of environmental standards that seek to limit excess heat from the water that can damage fish and other wildlife (thermal discharge) and to limit damage to organisms trapped when water is withdrawn from a source
Nuclear power plants rely on efficient filtration of air, water, and process fluids to operate reliably. Older units are being upgraded with the latest reverse osmosis systems to improve reliability. Improvements in absolute filters for the capture of radioactive particles ensure greater safety. Today nuclear energy is back on the policy agendas of many countries, with projections for new nuclear plants that are similar to or exceeding those of the early years of nuclear power.
Pressurised Water Reactor (PWR): this is the most common type, with over 230 in use for power generation and a further several hundred in naval propulsion. The design originated as a submarine power plant. It uses ordinary water as both coolant and moderator. The design is distinguished by having a primary cooling circuit that flows through the core of the reactor under very high pressure, and a secondary circuit in which steam is generated to drive the turbine.
Boiling Water Reactor (BWR): this design has many similarities to the PWR, except that there is only a single circuit in which the water is at lower pressure (about 75 times atmospheric pressure) so that it boils in the core at about 285°C. The reactor is designed to operate with 12-15 per cent of the water in the top part of the core as steam, and hence with less moderating effect and thus efficiency there.
The steam passes through drier plates (steam separators) above the core and then directly to the turbines, which are thus part of the reactor circuit. Since the water around the core of a reactor is always contaminated with traces of radionuclides, it means that the turbine must be shielded and radiological protection provided during maintenance. The cost of this tends to balance the savings due to the simpler design. Most of the radioactivity in the water is very short-lived, so the turbine hall can be entered soon after the reactor is shut down.