Friend or Foe?
Part 1: How A Nuclear Reactor Works
Part 2: Diesel Subs V. Nuclear Subs
Part 3: Health Risks (Short Term & Long)
PART 1: First, What Is A Nuclear Reactor?
“Nuclear reactors are basically heat engines. As uranium
fissions, the breaking apart of atoms releases energy, much
of it in the form of heat, which can then be used to do work.
In a nuclear-powered submarine, reactor heat produces
steam to drive the turbines that provide the submarine's
actual power. The development of compact, safe, and
highly reliable pressurized water reactors for naval use in
the early 1950s was the major technological achievement
But How Does it Work?!
The First Half of the Process….
Standard nuclear submarines, like those used in the U.S.
Navy use pressurized water reactors. These reactors
include both a primary and secondary cooling system.
“The primary system circulates water, which is
pressurized to keep it from boiling, in a closed loop.” As
water moves through the actual reactor, it is made
extremely hot. The heated water travels through the
steam generator where the water transfers the heat to
generate steam (In the second cooling system). The
water then travels back to the initial reactor chamber
where the process is repeated.
Quote taken from http://americanhistory.si.edu/subs/operating/propulsion/reactor/#
But How Does it Work?!
The Second Half of the Process….
While in the steam chamber, described during the first
half of the process, the heat is sent through a “watertight
boundary to the secondary system, also a closed loop.
The unpressurized water in the secondary system turns
to steam when heated. The steam, in turn, flows through
the secondary system to the propulsion turbines, which
turn the propellers, and to the turbine generators, which
supply electricity. As it cools, it condenses to water and
is pumped back to the steam generator.” (3)
Nuclear Reactor Demonstration
The final process should look like This.
PART 2: Diesel V. Nuclear Subs
There are two main types of submarines.
Type One: Nuclear Submarines
Type Two: Diesel Powered Submarines
Objective: To find which is more efficient and safe
DIESEL FUEL: TYPE 1
• Before Nuclear Submarines were
created, Diesel Fuel was used to both…
• A) Power the batteries which ran all the
mechanics on the submarine…
• B) And run the sub’s propellers.
For this reason, multiple engines were needed.
Diesel Fuel: Type 1
• When submarines run off of Diesel fuel, another OXYGEN is
needed in order for the engine to run.
• Because submarines generally run underwater, oxygen is not easily
accessible unless the ship submerges to restock.
• This could put a sub in the sights of an enemy ship. Submarines, using
diesel fuel, use massive amounts of energy for their multiple engines.
• Also remember, the crew has to breathe. In this respect, it is known
that diesel subs must rise often.
• In addition to this, diesel fuel can be very harmful to personnel aboard
the ship if ever there was a problem.
• On the other hand, diesel fuel is extremely easy to get at lower costs
than nuclear components.
Nuclear Fuel: Type 2
Nuclear Fuel is nearly tenfold more efficient than
diesel submarines, one of the reasons they are
so regularly made.
Nuclear reactors usually use a single engine
which can moderate itself to split power to both
the propellers and energy needed to run sub’s
Also, NO OXYGEN is needed.
Nuclear Reactors run off of water pressure and a
base reactor element (usually uranium)
Part 3: Health Risks
If a nuclear submarine is built
carefully and maintained/serviced
regularly, there crew should not be
affected by it.
One possible risk is a ‘nuclear