The Physics
An encyclopedia of scientific essays

Power of a Nuclear Reactor

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Bibliographic Entry Result
(w/surrounding text)
"Nuclear Energy." Microsoft Encarta 95. CD-ROM. Microsoft/Funk & Wagnall, 1994. "A typical 1000 MW pressurized water reactor hasabout 200 fuel elements." 1000 MW
"Nuclear Energy: Power from Fission." Encyclopedia Americana. Volume 20. Grolier, 1996: 511i-511o. "The first PWR (pressurized water reactor) was the 60 MW plant in Shippingport, PA." 60 MW
Häfele, Wolf. Energy For Planet Earth: Energy From Nuclear Power. New York: W. H. Freeman, 1991: 97-98. "… twelve reactors (net capacity 10,407 MW) were added to the global grid." 867 MW
Duderstadt, James J.Nuclear Power: Energy, Power, and Environment. New York: Marcel Dekker, 1979: 201. "… the General Electric Company to produce 1065 MW of electrical power." 1065 MW
Davis-Bessie. Facility Statistics. General Information. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, 12 May 1995. "Main Turbine Generator Rated Output: 906 MWe (net)" 906 MW

Nuclear power plants are run all over the world with a few hundred of theseexisting in the United States. Many industries run on several different types of generators and it so happens that most commercial generators use either the pressurized-water reactor (PWR) or the boiling-water reactor (BWR). These types of reactors use water as the coolant. Since most electric companies use the PWR, I used it as the standard.

Accordingly, many of the power plants give off megawatts of electrical power measured as MW -- the net electrical power given off (although most of the references I used noted megawatts as MWe). The results of my standardized notations varied greatly so that there was not just one value for the amount of power these nuclear plants produce. For instance, in 1957 the Westinghouse Electric Company used a PWR that produced 60 MW of electrical energy, whereas the Davis-Besse unit 1 plant produced 906 MW of electrical power as of 1995. The average power is about 854 MW though for our current decade.

Therefore, I concluded that there was not a required or specific amount of power that could be produced by a PWR. None, however, seem to go above 100 MW. One power plant alone has the potential to generate of up to 654 MW (Mexico's one power plant according to a 1989 chart). In actuality, many power plant owners seek to increase the amount of electrical power that can be given off by increasing the net capacity of the power plants. Of course, this also relies on whether there is sufficient uranium-235 resources to support the accomplishment of this plan.

Jasmin Marin -- 1997