Posted by Mauried on August 21, 2007, 8:01 am
A bit off topic but someone here might know the answer.
Is it theoretically possible to build Nuke Power stations that
dont consume water to operate.
OK to have a recirculating water system for cooling and driving the
turbines but is there any alternative for condensation based cooling
Bit of debate going on in Aus re Nuke Power plants and where they have
to be located,and one of the big issues is the water consumption which
means near the sea.
is this usually the case elsewhere.
Posted by Al on August 21, 2007, 8:23 am
|A bit off topic but someone here might know the answer.
| Is it theoretically possible to build Nuke Power stations that
| dont consume water to operate.
| OK to have a recirculating water system for cooling and driving the
| turbines but is there any alternative for condensation based cooling
Simply - no. You (or "they") need to reject heat to the low reservoir
somehow and the most efficient/effective way is via water. Any really
big heat engine needs either
a) lots of fresh water to donate steam to the atmosphere
b) lots of salt water to donate heat to the fishies
Posted by Anthony Matonak on August 21, 2007, 9:10 am
Nukes are simply big steam engines. Put pure enough fissionable
materials close enough together and they get hot. This heat runs
a steam engine and, ultimately, the heat has to go somewhere.
Cold ocean water or evaporating fresh water are simply the two most
efficient ways to get rid of the heat. Cooling towers could be made
that simply reject the heat to the atmosphere without evaporating
water but they would be larger, less efficient and cost more.
Oddly enough, solar thermal, coal and some natural gas power plants
have the same heat disposal issues.
Posted by R.H. Allen on August 21, 2007, 1:39 pm
There was a related story on NPR (a public radio network here in the US)
this morning. Apparently, the utility in France is having difficulty
with its nukes this year because the lakes and rivers they use for
cooling water are too warm. It's primarily a statutory problem -- they
can't legally return water to the lake or river if it exceeds a certain
temperature, and on some days the water has exceeded that temperature
even without being used by the nuke plant. As a result, they've had to
shut down plants in some areas and get permission to dump warmer water
in others. This isn't a new problem, but evidently it has been worse
this year than in past years. They mentioned that plants in Germany and
the US have also experienced this, but the story was focused on France
because of its heavy reliance on nuclear power.
To tie into your query, at the end of the story the representatives from
the French utility said that they didn't think this was a major problem
and that they felt they could address it. They didn't go into detail,
but mentioned cooling towers (which doesn't eliminate the problem of
water consumption, but does eliminate the problem of returning it too
warm to the lake or river it comes from) and "new technology." So it
seems people in the nuke industry are thinking about this, but thus far
I'm not aware of any specific measures that can be taken to reduce water
BTW, if you're interested you can listen to the story at
(unfortunately they don't have a text transcript).
Posted by Eeyore on August 21, 2007, 1:53 pm
For purely practical reasons they are normally built near the sea or on a large
France has some on rivers that in recent summers have had to reduce output on
account of low river flow.