Table of Contents
The Energy Challenge
Nuclear Power Facts
Nuclear Power Advantages
The Salient Points
Annex I: The DECADES Project
Annex II: Nuclear Power Case Studies
A Wide Range of Applications
Today's nuclear power plants are primarily used to supply baseload electricity. As previously mentioned, the next century will see global electricity demand grow faster than overall energy demand. The demand will be driven not only by economic development, but also because of the ease of use and cleanliness of electricity at the point of consumption. In the transport sector, there will be an increased use of electricity for both rapid transport and vehicular applications in the increasing number of megacities. Environmental considerations will be of paramount importance and nuclear power could supply the new baseload requirements for transport applications.
In the non-electric sector, there is a wide range of applications as nuclear power can provide heat energy at various temperatures for multiple industrial purposes. Currently, only some 0.5% of nuclear power generation is used for non-electric applications. Various district heating, industrial process and desalination applications exist in Canada, China, Kazakhstan, Slovakia and the Russian Federation. As nuclear power supplies energy for extended time periods without refuelling it is also used for military purposes to power aircraft carriers and submarines, and for Arctic Sea ice-breakers.
In the industrial area, temperature needs vary greatly - from room temperature for agricultural purposes to 1 000 °C for the chemical industry. Hot water for heating and heat for seawater desalination require temperatures from 80 to 200°C, petroleum refining processes from 250 to 550 °C, high pressure hot water or steam injection for oil recovery and oil-shale and tar-sand processing from 300 to 600 °C, and petrochemical process heat from 600 to 800 °C. Still higher temperature, up to 950 °C, are needed for refining hard coal and lignite to produce methanol for transportation fuel, and up to 1000°C for the production of hydrogen by water splitting. Today's water cooled reactors provide heat up to 300 °C, liquid metal fast breeder reactors up to 540 °C, gas cooled reactors up to 650 °C and high temperature gas cooled reactors approaching 1 000 °C, the limit for today's metallic reactor materials [Fig.: Nuclear Power Applications].