Issues Affecting the Growth of Nuclear Power

There are currently four issues concerning the wider use of nuclear power: safety, waste disposal, cost, and proliferation. Since the fission process produces large amounts of highly radioactive material, the reactor must be designed, built, and operated to prevent the escape of the fission products to the environment. In western design reactors and newer reactors of Russian design, the fission products are prevented from being released to the environment by multiple barriers in the event of an accident. The barriers are the fuel itself, the zirconium cladding, the reactor cooling system and the specially designed concrete and steel building, called the reactor containment building (see Fig. 4.4 below), which houses the reactor and associated systems.

Containment Building 3" Thick Reinforced Concrete

Steel Containment

Reactor Vessel 8"-10" Thick Steel

Fuel Rod, Length 12" Diameter 3/4" Containing a Stack of Ceramic Uranium Dioxide Pellets Sealed in a Zirealoy Tube

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