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How It Works

How It Works

RT @OntarioNature: 'Tis the season for the Christmas Bird Count! Whether you're new to birding or a seasoned vet, it’s a great way to expl…

Sat Dec 08 18:56:27

RT @Canada: On the shore of the St. Lawrence River in #KingstonOntario, the historic #FortHenry is hosting #LuminaBorealis until January 5.…

Fri Dec 07 20:03:56

Thanks to our biodiversity team’s hard work, Chat Falls GS was awarded the @WildlifeHC 2018 Wetlands Project Award…

Fri Dec 07 16:43:53

Nuclear reactors, which produce heat by splitting uranium atoms, do the same job as conventional power-producing equipment in the generation of electricity: They produce heat to convert water into steam, which spins a turbine which in turn spins a generator to make electricity.​​​​​​​​​​​​
  • Nuclear Power - How it Works

    Watch this video on how nuclear power works.

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Instead of coal, oil or natural gas, Canadian nuclear reactors use natural uranium for fuel. But the uranium is not burned. Uranium atoms make heat by splitting. Technical term for this is fissioning.

Fission makes heat

When a neutron (a tiny sub-atomic particle that is one of the components of almost all atoms) strikes an atom of uranium, the uranium atom splits into two lighter atoms (which are called fission products) and releases heat at the same time. The fissioning process also releases from one to three more neutrons that can split other uranium atoms. This is the beginning of a "chain reaction" in which more and more uranium atoms are split, releasing more and more neutrons (and heat). In a nuclear reactor, the chain reaction is tightly controlled to produce only the amount of heat needed to generate a specific amount of electricity.

Heat makes steam

The fission process generates a huge amount of heat. In order to be useful, the heat has to be moved to boilers to make steam. In a CANDU® reactor, heavy water does this job. It is pumped constantly through the fuel channels in the reactor and takes the heat from the fuel bundles up to boilers above the reactor. In the boilers, the heated heavy water heats up ordinary water to make steam. This steam is piped out of the boilers and over to the turbine hall where it drives the huge turbines/generators that make the electricity we use.