For some people, seeing is believing. Unfortunately, industrial complexes related to energy production are often located in remote areas. That is especially true for nuclear plants.
China's High Temperature Reactor - HTR-10
China's High Temperature Reactor (HTR-10) at the Institute of Nuclear Energy Technology (INET) began operating in 2000. Unfortunately, this picture merely shows the outside of the building that houses the 10 Mwe, helium gas cooled pebble bed reactor. The experimental facility will be used to evaluate the technology for several applications including electrical power production and high temperature process heat.
Crystal River 3
One of the more interesting nuclear plant sites is about 30 miles north of our corporate headquarters. The site houses five power plants, Crystal River 1-5. Plants 1 and 2 (foreground) are coal fired stations completed in 1966 and 1969 respectively. Plants 4 and 5 (background with cooling towers) are also coal stations which were completed in 1982 and 1984. Unit 3 (mid picture just to right of centerline), completed in 1977, is the only one that is nuclear powered.
Diablo Canyon show how little impact a nuclear plant can have. The total plant capacity is over 2000 MW, nearly 2/3's of the total capacity for the entire Crystal River complex.
Of course, the power plant is only part of the story. Power is simply a more useful product made from various raw materials. Take a look back at the Crystal River Energy Complex. Those four coal stations require the consumption of just over 1000 tons of coal per hour at full capacity.
A standard coal car carries between 100 and 130 tons of coal. Supporting that plant requires between 100 and 150 cars per day depending on plant operations. The next picture is intended to give you a feel for the magnitude of that task. Notice that only 14 coal cars are visible in the picture.
Coal handling site near Norfolk, Virginia
We are still looking for a better picture to illustrate how little nuclear fuel is needed to run a power plant. With currently commercial technology, one standard fuel pellet produces as much energy as one ton of coal. 100 of the pellets in the following picture would produce as much energy as one of the train car loads of coal pictured above.
The below picture is a human hand holding 13 fuel pellets, the energy equivalent of about 10 percent of a train car full of coal.
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Last updated July 16, 2001