About Nuclear Energy
The peaceful use of nuclear energy is growing in various walks of life, including industrial, medical, agricultural and other fields. The generation of electricity from nuclear energy is one of the most important uses by generating clean and economically competitive energy. It is also a sustainable technology that guarantees the right of future generations to fossil resources as a result of the availability of their fuel for decades.
Nuclear energy now provides about 10% of the world’s electricity from about 440 power reactors distributed in more than 30 countries. Currently there are about 50 reactors under construction, and many countries have announced plans to develop nuclear power generation programs and consider them as a strategic energy option.
Since its inception, the technology of nuclear power reactors has undergone several developments from the first generation to the so-called advanced Nuclear Power Reactors generation ( III +) . The designs of this advanced generation are characterized by the adoption of standard and stereotypical techniques, which has reflected positively on the safety and cost factors of these reactors.
The Egyptian Nuclear Program (Key Events)
Establishment of Atomic Energy Commission.
Establishment of Atomic Energy Institution.
Operating the first research reactor at Inshas.
Establishment of the Nuclear Engineering Dept at Alexandria University.
Invitation for an international tender to construct a nuclear power plant for electricity generation and sea water desalination at Sidi-krer.
Issuance of a Letter of Intent to the first company in the tender.
War of June 1967,the project came to a halt.
Invitation for a restricted tender among American companies to implement the project of constructing a nuclear power plant at Sidi-Krir.
Establishment the Nuclear Power Plants Authority (NPPA).
Establishment of the Supreme Council of Energy.
Establishment of the Nuclear Materials Authority.
The project stopped as a result of Three Mile Island (TMI) accident in the United States.
Selection of El-Dabaa site for the construction of the Egyptian nuclear power plant.
Issurance of the presidential decree to allocate El-Dabaa site to establish the nuclear power project.
Approval of the Supreme Council of Energy for the Egyptian nuclear program.
Establishing a fund to support alternative energy projects.
Invitation for an international tender for the construction of a nuclear power plant at El-Dabaa site.
The project was interrupted as a result of Chernobyl accident in the former Soviet Union.
Installation and operation of the second Egyptian experimental reactor at Inshas.
Starting a national dialogue to study the use of nuclear power in electricity generation.
Re-formation of the Supreme Council of Energy chaired by the Prime Minister.
Declaration of Egypt`s strategic decision to build a number of reactors for electricity generation.
Formation of the Supreme Council for the Peaceful use of nuclear energy headed by the President of the Republic.
Invitation for an international tender to select a consultancy firm for the construction of the nuclear power plant.
Upgrading and finalizing the specifications of the first nuclear power plant in cooperation with the experts of the IAEA in the wake of Fukushima accident.
Issuance of the decision of the Council of Ministers in its session held 10/10/2013 approving to NPPA to resume the consultant`s work to implement the phases with regard to the nuclear power plant project.
Contracting with the Engineering Authority of the Armed Forces for the rehabilitation of El-Dabaa site with the basic facilities, protecting and securing it, Completion of environmental monitoring system at the site.
Signing of an Inter-governmental agreement between Egypt and Russia on cooperation in the field of building and operating the first nuclear power plant in Egypt with the Russian technology.
Negotiations with the Russian party to build, operate, fuel supplying, storage of spent fuel for a nuclear power plant consisting of 4 units with VVER type reactors, 1200 MW each.
Site Approval Permit (SAP) for El Dabaa site was issued by the Egyptian Nuclear Regulation and Radiological Authority (ENRRA).
Safety principles in nuclear plants
Nuclear safety is the protection of individuals, the environment and society against the harmful effects of ionizing radiation, including the safety of nuclear facilities and activities. A series of strict technical and administrative measures according to international standards designed to prevent, control and, if so, mitigate of accident consequences, which is called Principle of (defense in depth). Preventing the incident is the primary and ultimate objective of all those concerned with nuclear energy. Achieving nuclear safety is the responsibility of the operating organization.
In the design of nuclear power plants, there is combination of a number of consecutive and independent five levels of protection that would have to fail before harmful effects could be caused to people or to the environment. If one level of protection or barrier were to fail, the subsequent level or barrier would be available. This concept in design is called “defence in depth”.The first four levels are oriented towards the protection of barriers and mitigation of releases; the last level relates to off-site emergency measures to protect the public in the event of a significant release.
Protection and safety of workers and the public from the effects of exposure to ionizing radiation is a binding requirement in the nuclear industry. The International Commission on Radio-logical Protection (ICRP) has identified three main principles for the achievement of radio-logical protection:
justification Principle: The process of determining whether a practice is, overall,
beneficial, as required by ICRP’s System of Radiological Protection, i.e. whether the benefits to individuals and to society from introducing or continuing the practice outweigh the harm (including radiation detriment) resulting from the practice.
Optimization Principle: The process of determining what level of protection and safety makes exposures, and the probability and magnitude of potential exposures, “as low as reasonably achievable (ALARA), economic and social factors being taken into account” . It includes (time – distance – shielding – engineering features).
Dose Constraints Principle: The individual dose, other than medical exposure of patients, shall not exceed the limits prescribed by the national regulator.
Nuclear Reactor Types
Pressurized Water Reactor (PWR)
Boiling Water Reactor (BWR)
Water Cooled Graphite-Moderated Reactor (RBMK)
Pressurized Heavy Water Reactor (PHWR)
Advanced Gas Cooled Reactor (AGCR)
Nuclear fuel is a fissionable nuclear material in the form of fabricated elements that are used in nuclear power reactors, or research and test reactors. Nuclear fuel is traditionally obtained by extracting uranium from solid ores mined from uranium deposits or from rather uranium rich rocks. After extraction, concentration and specific solid fuel preparation, the fuel is ‘burnt’ in reactors for the production of heat and electricity.
Nuclear fuel cycle is all operations associated with the production of nuclear energy. Most nuclear fuels contain heavy fissile elements that are capable of undergoing and sustaining nuclear fission. The three most relevant fissile isotopes are uranium-233, uranium-235 and plutonium-239.
Uranium-235 is used as a fuel in different concentrations. Some reactors, such as the CANDU reactor, can use natural uranium with uranium-235 concentrations of only 0.7%, while other reactors )mainly the light water reactors( require the uranium to be slightly enriched to levels of 3% to 5%. Plutonium-239 is produced and used in reactors (specifically fast breeder reactors) that contain significant amounts of uranium-238.
Advantages of using nuclear fuel:
- It is very high energy compared to other types used in generating electricity, and a few Pellets of nuclear fuel can be placed by the individual in the palm of his hand to meet the needs of a whole family for a year.
- Nuclear reactors need to generate electricity only for a limited amount of nuclear fuel per year, so it is easy to transport and store as a strategic stock and in quantities sufficient to operate the plants for many years.
- The resulting waste is small in size, and therefore can be stored for long periods in a small space.
- The contribution of nuclear fuel to electricity production costs is lower than that of other types, so electricity prices remain almost constant in case of fluctuation and price increases.
- Maintains a clean environment where its use does not result in environmentally destructive gases such as carbon oxides, sulfur and nitrogen.
- Available in abundant quantities and reliable as fuel for hundreds of years.
Nuclear energy, like all different energy sources, produces waste that is treated to protect humans and the environment from its negative effects. Waste generated from the use of a specific energy source differs in terms of its size, characteristics and disposal methods, so the volume of waste generated by a coal-fired power plant with a capacity of one thousand megawatts needs Every day to 1000 tons of coal, and this process results in the release of 300 tons of sulfur dioxide, and five tons of ash that contains other elements such as: chlorine, cadmium, arsenic, mercury, and lead, in addition to some radioactive elements. For generating the same electrical energy from its nuclear counterpart (500) cubic meters of waste per year.
Sources of radioactive waste
Radioactive waste results from the following activities:
•The burning of nuclear fuel in nuclear power plants to produce what is called spent fuel.
•All processes and phases of the nuclear fuel cycle.
•The use of radioisotopes in scientific research, industry, mining and agriculture.
•Nuclear medicine, including diagnosis, treatment, drug production and radioactive sources.
Classification of radioactive waste
There is no international standard classification for radioactive waste, and the factors involved in the classification of radioactive waste include:
•The type of radioactive elements and their concentration in the waste.
•The half-life of radioactive elements (the time period during which the intensity of the radioactive level of a radioactive element shrinks in half. It is a natural characteristic that varies from one type of element to the other. ”
•The physical state of the waste in terms of liquidity, solidity and gaseousness.
•Waste treatment and disposal methods. Treatment of radioactive waste The most important goals of treating radioactive waste is to get rid of radioactive isotopes and prevent their harm to the environment and humans, and this includes their collection, sorting, reduce their size, change their chemical and physical composition, and finally, condition them to be hardened and packed before storage and disposal.
Radioactive waste management
There are three main stages in treating radioactive waste:
It includes sorting and separation to separate radioactive materials from non-radioactive materials. This step is considered necessary to reduce the volume of waste (for example: by cutting or shredding) and facilitate its disposal and accordingly minimizes the cost of disposal.
2-the treatment stage
Generally, treatment processes tend to reduce the volume or radioactive waste by separating out the radioactive component from the bulk waste, often changing the waste’s composition in the process. A variety of waste treatment processing steps are available for use, depending on the nature of the waste and the waste acceptance requirements of the chosen disposal site. Two common treatment techniques are: incineration of solid waste and evaporation of liquid waste.
3-the conditioning stage
Brings the waste into a safe, stable and manageable form so it can be transported, stored and disposed. Conditioning techniques are designed to prevent the release of radionuclides from the disposed waste package into the environment. To condition waste for disposal, it is often encapsulated or solidified in cement, bitumen or glass containers.
Last Updated on June 2, 2021