How Do Operators Control the Nuclear Reaction?

In a nuclear energy plant, the nuclear chain reaction takes place inside the reactor vessel. Operators carefully control the chain reaction in the nuclear reactor in several ways.

  • The fuel type and how the reactor core is arranged changes depending on how much nuclear fission occurs.
  • The use of a moderator (light water, heavy water or graphite) slows down neutrons. At Barakah, we use light water as a moderator – one of the most common technologies used around the world for decades.
  • Control rods are made of material like boron that absorbs neutrons, which stops them from splitting more uranium atoms. Raising the control rods speeds up the chain reaction and lowering them slows or even stops it.

Reactor operators can increase the rate of fission to generate more heat, or decrease the rate of fission to generate less heat. They use this process to control the electrical output of the nuclear energy plant.

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