How often does a nuclear reactor need to be refueled?

Reactors run smoothly and reliably for up to two years at a time, but they need maintenance and inspection. Some of this can only be done when the reactor isn’t running. So, the refueling periods—three weeks or so—are periods of intense activity.

How often do you have to refuel a nuclear reactor?

Nuclear power plants typically refuel every 18 to 24 months, often during the fall and spring when electricity demand is lower.

Do nuclear reactors need to be refueled?

According to the Nuclear Energy Institute, nearly one-third of America’s 99 nuclear power plants have a scheduled refueling before June. All but two must be refueled before the end of the year.

How long does a nuclear reactor last?

Most nuclear power plants have operating life- times of between 20 and 40 years. Ageing is defined as a continuing time-dependent degradation of material due to service conditions, including normal operation and transient conditions.

Why do nuclear fuel rods stay hot?

“There comes a point when actually, the fuel becomes inefficient,” says Livens. When that happens, plant operators use control rods to turn off the fission reaction, and then they take the spent fuel out of the reactor. When the pins come out, Livens says, they are hot.

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What happens if a nuclear reactor runs out of fuel?

Without a steady coolant supply, a hot reactor core will continuously boil off the water surrounding it until the fuel is no longer immersed. If fuel rods remain uncovered, they may begin to melt, and hot, radioactive fuel can pool at the bottom of the vessel containing the reactor.

How much nuclear fuel does an aircraft carrier use?

Looking at the numbers, if each type of carrier were required to produce 200,000-shaft horsepower for a time of one week, a conventional carrier would require 5.125 X 106 kilo-grams of fuel, while a nuclear carrier would require from 4.094 kilo-grams to 136.476 kilo-grams of enriched Uranium (see Calculations).

How much does it cost to fuel an aircraft carrier?

On average, aircraft fill up with an estimated 3,500 gallons of jet fuel, costing an estimated $7,070. However, price can vary from $4,040 on the low end to $14,140 on the high end.

How much does it cost to refuel a nuclear reactor?

For a typical 1,000 MWe BWR or PWR, the approximate cost of fuel for one reload (replacing one third of the core) is about $40 million, based on an 18-month refueling cycle.

How often do nuclear power plants run?

Nuclear power plants are designed to run 24 hours a day, 7 days a week because they require less maintenance and can operate for longer stretches before refueling (typically every 1.5 or 2 years). There are currently 94 commercial reactors helping to power homes and businesses in 28 U.S. states.