WHAT IS NUCLEAR POWER?

Nuclear power stations convert heat energy produced from a nuclear fission chain reaction into electricity.


Nuclear power stations

Heat generated inside a nuclear reactor core from nuclear fission is used to convert water into steam, which then drives an electric turbine alternator.

As the turbine spins it produces alternating current (AC) electricity which is supplied to the national electricity grid. The steam is recondensed into water, usually by external seawater cooling and then recirculated back inside the reactor. For cooling reasons nuclear reactors are normally constructed near the coastline. Nuclear reactors built inland must be sited near large rivers and also generally use cooling towers.

Dr Jenifer Baxter

Dr Jenifer Baxter

Energy policy spokesperson

Dr Jenifer Baxter joined the Institution as Head of Energy and the Environment in May 2015. Jenifer works closely with members to raise the profile of engineers and engineering potential, to generate discussion and provide thought leadership in the energy and environment sectors.

Read Jenifer's full biography