Talk:Nuclear reactor

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Needs shutdown paragraph[edit]

Controlled by Controlling[edit]

Consider rephrasing: "The power output of the reactor is controlled by controlling how many neutrons are able to create more fissions." -- (talk) 03:29, 20 May 2010 (UTC)

The power output of the reactor is controlled by maintaining a certain neutron density within the core by use of control rods and the boron concentration of the reactor coolant water. Gilawson (talk) 19:59, 20 May 2010 (UTC)

Power output[edit]

The article should mention the power output of a typical modern reactor. AxelBoldt 02:03, 15 October 2007 (UTC)

Historic development[edit]

"The only purpose for these reactors was the mass production of plutonium (primarily at the Hanford Site) for nuclear weapons against Japan"

The "against japan" part is only right when you know how WWII ended. At the time, the fear was that Germany would develop nuclear weapons before the allies, and the purpose of the Manhattan project was primarily to use the weapon against Nazi Germany. Now the war in Europe ended before the bomb was finished, and then it was decided that it could be used against Japan instead. Japan did not have capacity to develop the bomb at the time. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 08:29, 19 July 2008 (UTC)

Shouldn't there be something in the article about how the desire for plutonium was related to the early design choices for reactors? The article doesn't even mention HPWC reactors, and there is no classification of reactors types by the desired (or undesired) byproducts. Shanen (talk) 04:57, 30 April 2011 (UTC)

Classification by type of nuclear reaction[edit]

Under the heading "Radioactive decay" I have removed the last sentence which read "it is the best way for producing energy in the future"

Aside from the fact there was no capital letter, the obvious next question would be "Says who?" —Preceding unsigned comment added by Finewinescotland (talkcontribs) 08:54, 24 October 2007 (UTC)

How it works[edit]

Simply listing the components does not help. Diagrams of a nuclear reactor apparatus would be much more effective, explaining each step in the mechanism.

Louiechefei28848888 (talk) 04:04, 23 March 2008 (UTC)

This section is duplicated in nuclear power, and though that article refers to this one as the main, it in fact contains more information than the How It Works section here. It's also been marked as needing citation. I cleaned up some of the description text in How It Works, but citations and coordination between these two articles will still be needed. Mishlai (talk) 13:01, 24 September 2008 (UTC)

-I've moved the following from the article to here:

"The rate of fission in a reactor is not capable of reaching sufficient levels to trigger a nuclear explosion (even if the fission reactions increased to a point of being out of control, it would melt the reactor assembly rather than form a nuclear explosion). Enriched uranium is uranium in which the percent composition of uranium-235 has been increased from that of uranium found in nature. Natural uranium is only 0.72% uranium-235; the rest is mostly uranium-238 (99.2745%) and a tiny fraction is uranium-234 (0.0055%)."

This text has been marked as uncited in the nuclear power article for a few months and I don't know the citations either. I'm not sure that we can even make that statement... it's probably best to say something more along the lines of "nuclear reactors differ from nuclear weapons in that reactors are designed to fission at a controlled rate." We could perhaps also cite some of the design criteria that affect this - certainly fuel enrichment and density are important to that, as well as many other factors - geometry, poisons, and so on. The nuclear explosion article defines a nuclear explosion so vaguely that I'm not even sure we can definitively say that all reactors are incapable of producing it's definition - "rapid release of energy from an intentionally high-speed nuclear reaction." Clearly being intentional or not doesn't determine whether a rapid energy release could be classed as an explosion. In any case, while I support the goal of reassuring people that reactors != nuclear bombs, we can't make definitive "this can't happen" statements without a good reference.

I'd like to expand this section to explain more and in better detail, and I think these topics will see more treatment. Anyone have sources on differences between weapons and reactors? I've found this

But it's not great. Mishlai (talk) 10:39, 25 September 2008 (UTC)

Two Changes to the Fusion Reactor Section[edit]

I would like to pose two changes to the Fusion Reactor Section:

  1. While the statement that fusion reactors can operate "without the complexities of handling actinides," I think it should be mentioned that D-T (ITER's reaction) and D-D fusion reactions still produce highly energetic neutron radiation. I would like to mention this so a newcomer to the article will know that fusion reactions have inherent setbacks (aside from the sustainability issue).
  2. I would like to contend the statement that ITER is an attempt to "commercialize fusion power." ITER's purpose is to show that sustainable, controlled fusion reactions are possible and, if so, perform radiation damage/material tests. Commercialization is an entirely different endeavor.

(Sorry to be so nit-picky.) THaskin (talk) 01:06, 21 August 2008 (UTC)

Sounds reasonable. Go for it!

Neutronicity and persistent radioactivity from fusion reactions is discussed somewhere in Wikipedia already, but can't hurt to have it here too. --JWB (talk) 03:00, 21 August 2008 (UTC)

Modern terminology "actinoid"[edit]

I haven't given a reference in the text for the change, but it's here if anyone's interested. The WP article has already been converted. --Old Moonraker (talk) 08:33, 20 November 2008 (UTC)

You say actinoid, I say actinide[edit]

Apparently the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry decided many years ago to change the name of lanthanides and actinides to lanthanoids and actinoids. Yet somehow the word has not gotten out. I had not heard of the term before, and I've read quite a few papers. It raises the question: what if they invented a "standard" and nobody adopted it? Or perhaps: if a standard grows in the forest and no one knows about it, is it really a standard? But seriously, if no one in the nuclear energy business uses the term, is it really the "standard"? I think we should return to the terminology that is normally used. If someone wants to drop a footnote that chemists have changed the name, but this change hasn't been picked up in the nuclear field, that would be fine. NPguy (talk) 23:55, 20 November 2008 (UTC)

It was new to me, too. My main reason for preferring "oid" was consistency with the Actinoid article, which opens with “The actinoid (according to current IUPAC terminology; previously actinide) series...” However the focus there is chemistry, not the nuclear industry. The citation above is pretty firm, but the one in the text isn't from a mainstream publication.--Old Moonraker (talk) 06:48, 21 November 2008 (UTC)

Classification by size[edit]

please include a classification by size and mention Micro nuclear reactors

too bad Micro nuclear reactor link doesn't show any real reactors, they're small because they aren't shielded (there is a picture of a dead guy for scale at the bottom of sstar. Russians had a smaller "naked reactor" in a coal mine that killed a lot of people. Aqueous uranyl acetate and sodium borate, as the water boiled away the borate became more concentrated. Problem was the steam in the boiling water bubbles had no borate. Shjacks45 (talk) 14:14, 31 October 2009 (UTC)


Following the spirit of this edit, I'm considering moving the text again, to the caption of the "nuclear fission" image. Views? --Old Moonraker (talk) 16:34, 5 August 2009 (UTC)

No objections: done it. Thanks to User: for noticing this. --Old Moonraker (talk) 08:22, 7 August 2009 (UTC)

The smallest[edit]

What is the smallest fission reactor ever built? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:13, 16 September 2009 (UTC)

A nuclear weapon primary weighs about 10 pounds, is about 3 inches wide at maximum implosion, and runs for about a microsecond. --JWB (talk) 15:37, 16 September 2009 (UTC)

I'm talking about a controllable reactor —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 10:06, 9 October 2009 (UTC) How are you defining smallest? Aqueous homogenous reactors can be smallest in terms of amount of fissile material. --JWB (talk) 16:18, 9 October 2009 (UTC)

Article lead[edit]

Lead currently reads in part There are also other less common uses as discussed below. Two problems with this:

1. There are far more research reactors in the world than naval propulsion reactors, so what it says is simply untrue.

2. It's not obvious where below it's discussed. At the very least, it needs a section on other reactors (and I'd suggest that naval propulsion reactors go in this section too, although they do have some similarities to NPPs, but there are some important differences, for example the level of fuel enrichment).

Other views? Andrewa (talk) 20:44, 25 December 2009 (UTC)

Reversions by NPGuy[edit]

Please discuss your reverts here. I'm curious what you find fault with; my correction of the RBMK transliteration from Russian to English (I speak Russian as a second language), or of the fact that no RBMK design was built in the Western World. Please elaborate, rather than making blanket reverts. FellGleaming (talk) 02:15, 6 April 2010 (UTC)

I'm not a native Russian speaker, but isn't the relevant cyrillic character the same as the one in Khrushchev's name - i.e. "shch"? The question of whether the RBMK is unsafe is a matter of judgment rather than fact, so it is better to say it is "considered" unsafe. The better way to say where RBMKs were deployed is not via a negative ("not in the West") but by a direct statement ("only in the former Soviet Union"). NPguy (talk) 02:24, 6 April 2010 (UTC)
The character is the same, but its used in "Хрущёв", its followed by a vowel. When followed by consonant, the pronunciation is slightly different; original transliteration implied a syllable that did not exist.
Regarding the safety of he RBMK, this is more than just a opinion. It is asserted both by real world events (the only large scale radiation release in history) and by design parameters (positive void coefficient and lack of containment structure). No other reactor has either the operational record or these multiple design flaws.
Your point about asserting the positive rather than the negative is certainly correct. Please consider me in agreement for that change. FellGleaming (talk) 02:40, 6 April 2010 (UTC)

Mention of unions[edit]

While I've never been a union member, I feel they do have a place in the the article under "People" - particularly since they have Wikipedia articles. How would you all feel about inclusding just the sentence:

In the United States and Canada, workers except for management, professional (such as engineers) and security personnel are likely to be members of either the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) or the Utility Workers Union of America (UWUA).

Would that be acceptable? Simesa (talk) 18:14, 10 April 2010 (UTC)

There having been no discussion on this in 5 days, I'm going to put the text in. Note that it was in for quite awhile, then expanded (inappropriately), then removed. Simesa (talk) 11:25, 15 April 2010 (UTC)

Stirling engine plants ?[edit]

I was just wondering: aren't there any stirling engine nuclear power plants ? A stirling engine is more efficient than a steam engine/turbine, so ... KVDP (talk) 10:18, 8 June 2010 (UTC)

Bad Link[edit]

I clicked on the link "Generation I Reactor" in section 5.1.4 and it redirected me to a page about Generation 2 reactors. This link needs to be redirected to the page about Generation 1 reactors. Thank you. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:37, 11 March 2011 (UTC)

This is because we have no article on Generation I Reactor yet, and it is partly covered in Generation II Reactor. Materialscientist (talk) 23:49, 11 March 2011 (UTC)

Why was it called a reactor[edit]

Reactor seems a strange name for a fission core. Who introduced the term ? Was it after the Chicago Pile ? Rod57 (talk) 10:42, 20 March 2011 (UTC)

In the original UK patent (Szilard was working in Britain when he filed it) it was referred to as an 'atomic furnace' or 'atomic boiler' (as in a steam engine) as that was what it represented as a piece of equipment used to replace an earlier technology, being used to heat water, however the name 'reactor' came about because of the crossover with the field of Chemistry, as a 'reactor' is a piece of equipment where chemical reactions take place. The original usage is probably more accurate though. If you want to find out about Leo Szilard's nuclear work in London then I suggest you also read Jacob Bronowski, as the two were great friends. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:17, 3 April 2011 (UTC)


Why do not add links to simulatots of various reactors ? (talk) 19:30, 12 April 2011 (UTC)


I'm confused by the illustration: according to my list of isotopes, both the Krypton and Barium isotope do not exist? (talk) 11:04, 29 April 2011 (UTC)

Please Move[edit]

The following discussion is an archived discussion of a requested move. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on the talk page. No further edits should be made to this section.

The result of the move request was: page moved. Vegaswikian (talk) 02:28, 30 August 2011 (UTC)

"Nuclear reactor technology" should redirect to "Nuclear reactor", not the other way round. -- Neutronscattering (talk) 17:46, 17 May 2011 (UTC)

Nuclear reactor technologyNuclear reactor – Non-controversial. Move requested here. Lead is written as though Nuclear reactor is the article title. Kvng (talk) 03:41, 23 August 2011 (UTC)

The above discussion is preserved as an archive of a requested move. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on this talk page. No further edits should be made to this section.

Energy Catalyzer[edit]

It seems that there are people who don′t find convincing the claim that a nuclear reaction takes place in E-cat and thus not considering this device a nuclear reactor. There are reliable sources for the assertion, so wording should be like: Apparently E-Cat is (claimed to be) a nuclear reactor. Further verifications are required.-- (talk) 23:15, 30 October 2011 (UTC)

Where are the peer-reviewed physics papers? We already have a category more suited to the "E-Cat" article. --Wtshymanski (talk) 03:18, 31 October 2011 (UTC)
There is a peer-reviewed paper by Focardi, on whose work the e-cat is based. It was once in the reference list for the E-cat article, but if someone has deleted it you can find it in the library. I'd have thought the E-cat shouldn't be put the hoaxes category unless the evidence for this is definitive. I don't think it fits in that section.
The claim is based on the amount of energy generated which (assuming the measurements are correct) is too much for conventional sources (direct evidence in the form of transmutations is less clear). One could postulate alternative explanations, such as tapping into dark energy, but since the nuclear explanation involves only the speeding up of the reaction, for which various models have been proposed, it is the most plausible one, subject of course to the heat measurements being correct.
I'd be happy with describing it as a claim, but adding 'apparently' as well, as proposed above, is wrong since it is clear that it is claimed even if there is unclarity in some people's minds as to whether that claim is valid. --Brian Josephson (talk) 10:34, 8 November 2011 (UTC)
The nuclear reactor article has quite enough to do to describe extant reactors. It should confine itself to the mainstream and leave the E-cat to another article. --Wtshymanski (talk) 14:27, 8 November 2011 (UTC)

A short mention of Energy Catalyzer in the see also section seems justified even though some users consider that non-mainstream should be ignored on biased considerations.-- (talk) 07:05, 18 June 2013 (UTC)

Energy efficiency?[edit]

The section Heat generation boldly claims:

A kilogram of uranium-235 (U-235) ... releases approximately three million times more energy than a kilogram of coal burned conventionally (7.2 × 10¹³ joules per kilogram of uranium-235 versus 2.4 × 10⁷ joules per kilogram of coal).[3][4]

Source [3] refers to coal. Source [4] refers to a book on atomic bombs. Not much of the atomic bomb energy output is used for energy production, and most nuclear reactors aren't atomic bombs (AFAIK). I'm out for the real energy efficient power production in nuclear power plants, including energy losses for energy conversion and other leakages. It's easy to make a computation of the mass equation and make an E=mc², but that has little relevance for mass to energy conversion available in factual power production, since a lot of energy is lost in various processes. Rursus dixit. (mbork3!) 12:43, 8 March 2012 (UTC)

That's stretching WP:CALC too far for my taste. I've marked it as original research. --Kvng (talk) 14:51, 11 March 2012 (UTC)

"Reactors Designed by Argonne National Laboratory"[edit]

An external link Reactors Designed by Argonne National Laboratory is repeatedly added, and is now in twice. Uncontroversially, I removed just one of the two, but they're both back again. Firstly: I'm not sure about whether or not this falls within WP:ELNO and other views are requested. Secondly, I am confident that we don't need them twice and I will be removing, once again, the one in the "See also" section unless anyone can offer a good reason for its retention.--Old Moonraker (talk) 15:15, 11 May 2012 (UTC)

Thanks, User:NPguy, for the fix. --Old Moonraker (talk) 06:29, 12 May 2012 (UTC)

I removed the duplicate link we added to two different sections of this page (formerly added to both 'see also' and 'external links'). I moved the link from "External Links" back under the "See also" section. The link belongs there. Sorry about the earlier duplicates. --Neweb (talk) 09:12, 14 May 2012 (UTC)

Another RV, I'm afraid, back to where it was. See WP:ALSO for what's allowed in that section. --Old Moonraker (talk) 10:44, 14 May 2012 (UTC)
OK, thank you. I wasn't aware that the "See Also..." section should only feature internal Wikipedia links. OK with the change you made. I just expanded that paragraph a bit to add a detail. --Neweb (talk) 07:13, 15 May 2012 (UTC)
As User:Kvng points out, the material might work better as a reference, rather than just a link; in other words if it's that important, and keeping it within the parameters of WP:UNDUE, write it up! --Old Moonraker (talk) 09:31, 15 May 2012 (UTC)

Fission kinetic energy[edit]

The line:

The kinetic energy of fission products is converted to thermal energy when these nuclei collide with nearby atoms.

is converted to:

The kinetic energy evolved from fission disperses into space as nuclei collide with nearby atoms.

I reversed the change because:

- There is no mention of the kinetic energy being converted into thermal, which is probably the most important thing that happens;
- Kinetic energy cannot convert into anything if all it does is "disperse into space". The chances of that happening are very low as opposed to causing various collisions, creating heat.
- Saying kinetic energy "evolves" is not descriptive of what happens, and is a confusing and imprecise use of the verb.

SkoreKeep (talk) 05:54, 25 December 2014 (UTC)

Nuclear Safety[edit]

This section is extremely poorly written and conceived. I will go through the problematic parts sentence by sentence.

I. "Mistakes do occur and the designers of reactors at Fukushima in Japan did not anticipate that a tsunami generated by an earthquake would disable the backup systems that were supposed to stabilize the reactor after the earthquake.[34]"

Truisms like "mistakes do occur" should not belong in an encyclopedia. Designers of Fukushima reactors clearly anticipated tsunami since the reactors were protected by tsunami walls. This sentence should be removed.

II. "According to UBS AG, the Fukushima I nuclear accidents have cast doubt on whether even an advanced economy like Japan can master nuclear safety.[35]" UBS AG is an insurance company, and what does it even mean to "master nuclear safety"? This sentence should be removed.

III. "An interdisciplinary team from MIT have estimated that given the expected growth of nuclear power from 2005–2055, at least four serious nuclear accidents would be expected in that period.[36]" This is an extremely dishonest sentence and a prime example of how context-free citation can sometimes be worse than outright lying. The study, first of all, recommends further implementation of nuclear power. The sentence does not note that the probability analysis was based on a three-fold increase in nuclear reactors. This increase is also not "the expected growth of nuclear power"; the article postulated a three-fold increase for the purpose of analyzing the impact of nuclear reactor increase. The sentence also incorrectly reports the conclusion reached by the study. The study concludes that, if current technology were to be used, and there was a three-fold increase in nuclear reactors, we can expect four core damage accidents. Whether that is acceptable or not is a policy question for a different forum. What is not acceptable is reporting four as "at least four." This sentence should be removed.

IV. "The nuclear power industry has improved the safety and performance of reactors, and has proposed new safer (but generally untested) reactor designs but there is no guarantee that the reactors will be designed, built and operated correctly.[33] " I'm not sure what is this sentence supposed to convey. It certainly does not convey specific information. This sentence should be removed.

I will remove all the sentences on safety in a week. I will leave the section heading for future additions of actual information.

Pensiveneko (talk) 12:55, 29 April 2015 (UTC)

I'd support all of those edits. There is a slight but noticeable pov slant in the article's safety section as it currently stands. OhNoitsJamie Talk 13:28, 29 April 2015 (UTC)

Molten salt reactors[edit]

"The prototype was the MSRE, which also used Thorium's fuel cycle to produce 0.1% of the radioactive waste of standard reactors"

This is a fuzzy unreferenced claim. I find in Liquid_fluoride_thorium_reactor:

"When these two benefits of lower transuranic production, and recycling, are combined, a thorium fuel cycle reduces the production of transuranic wastes by more than a thousand-fold compared to a conventional once-through uranium-fueled light water reactor."

This is much more precise and qualified, but also different: it talks only about the production of transuranic wastes. Somebody more knowledgable, please reformulate (talk) 19:40, 3 June 2015 (UTC)

I would add that the "transuranic" framing is inappropriate here because Th is a lower atomic number element than U, and will first transmute to U isotopes, an option that U as a breeding stock doesn't have. This is sort-of explained higher up in the linked article.
Perhaps the whole passage should go, as it says something that isn't actually true, and when corrected to be true, is no longer interesting. (talk) 20:36, 3 June 2015 (UTC)
It seems to me it's better to use the more refined version of the statement than simply to delete. This is an important feature of such reactors. NPguy (talk) 02:57, 4 June 2015 (UTC)
Thanks. I made an edit along those lines that hopefully clarifies things. (talk) 05:39, 4 June 2015 (UTC) (same guy different IP)

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