How long can a power plant run unmanned?

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asked Apr 30, 2022 in Other-Environment by NattKeuggton (5,550 points)
How long can a power plant run unmanned?

2 Answers

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answered May 1, 2022 by Q766s (22,770 points)
A power plant can run unmanned for several months although it's not a good idea to do so.

Power plants need to be manned to watch over the generators, voltage, fuel, etc.

When a power station is up and running the power it generates can be used to power its internal operation.

However, many power stations do not have the ability to bring themselves back into service after a major outage. (referred to as a "Black Start").

And it seems that it is wide consensus, that should the nuclear power plants remain unattended for longer period of time, they will simply overheat and cause major damage to their surroundings.

The oldest nuclear power plant that is still in operation is the Nine Mile Point 1 in New York, which entered commercial service in December 1969.

The other oldest nuclear power plant is the Beznau nuclear power plant in Northern Switzerland.

The Beznau nuclear power plant in Northern Switzerland takes the honor of also being the oldest nuclear power currently in use.

Construction on the nuclear power plant began in 1965 and Beznau 1 began producing power on 1 September 1969, with Beznau 2 following in 1972.

The country that is rich in uranium is Kazakhstan which had uranium reserves amounting to approximately 344 thousand metric tons in 2020, making it the country with the largest uranium reserves in the world.

The estimated amount of years that we have viable uranium is between 80 to 90 years.

Although we have at least another 200 years of actual uranium available but we can't be sure if we have that amount of viable uranium.

Nuclear fuel will eventually run out.

However at current consumption rates of nuclear fuel we have at least another 200 years of nuclear fuel left as of 2022.

The U.S. is investing in nuclear power and nuclear electricity power plants.

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law President Joe Biden signed in November includes a $6 billion program intended to preserve the existing U.S. fleet of nuclear power reactors.

On Feb. 10, the Department of Energy's Office Nuclear Energy took first steps to begin the process of distributing that money.

The USA is the world's largest producer of nuclear power, accounting for more than 30% of worldwide nuclear generation of electricity.

The country's nuclear reactors produced 843 billion kWh in 2019, about 19% of total electrical output.

The US will or has built at least 2 new nuclear power plants which were expected to come online and begin operation sometime after 2020.

Initial capital costs, fuel, and maintenance costs are much higher for nuclear plants than wind and solar, and nuclear projects tend to suffer cost overruns and construction delays.

The price of renewable energy has fallen significantly over the past decade, and it projected to continue to fall

Following a 30-year period in which few new reactors were built, it is expected that two more new units will come online soon after 2020, these resulting from 16 license applications made since mid-2007 to build 24 new nuclear reactors.

Only 2 nuclear power plants have exploded or had a severe disaster.

Nuclear power plants are pretty safe but things can and do happen.

Sovacool has reported that worldwide there have been 99 accidents at nuclear power plants from 1952 to 2009 (defined as incidents that either resulted in the loss of human life or more than US$50,000 of property damage, the amount the US federal government uses to define major energy accidents that must be reported)

As in other industries, the design and operation of nuclear power plants aims to minimize the likelihood of accidents, and avoid major human consequences when they occur.

There have been two major reactor accidents in the history of civil nuclear power – Chernobyl and Fukushima Daiichi.

The United States has 55 nuclear power plants.

The 55 nuclear power plants, located in 28 states, are fueling the future with reliable electricity that we can use every day and all the time.

They also provide more clean energy to the grid than any other energy source, accounting for more than half of the country's clean energy electricity production.

Nuclear power plants can run up to 18 months at a time before the nuclear power plant needs refueled with uranium.

Nuclear reactors have a permitted lifespan of 40 to 60 years or longer and only need refueling every 18 months.

Uranium is the most widely used fuel by nuclear power plants for nuclear fission.

Nuclear power plants use a certain type of uranium—U-235—as fuel because its atoms are easily split apart.

Although uranium is about 100 times more common than silver, U-235 is relatively rare at just over 0.7% of natural uranium.

The world has at least 80 to 90 years of uranium left so the uranium as of now should last at least another 80  to 90 years before we run out.

The world's present measured resources of uranium (6.1 Mt) in the cost category less than three times present spot prices and used only in conventional reactors, are enough to last for about 90 years.

This represents a higher level of assured resources than is normal for most minerals.

The worlds uranium is controlled by Kazakhstan, Canada, and Australia.

Australia, the world's biggest uranium reserve holder, was estimated to possess 1.66 million tonnes (Mt) of known recoverable uranium resources as of 2011, accounting for about 31% of the world total.''

In 2019, 53,656 tons of Uranium were produced in mines.

Over two-thirds of the world's production of uranium from mines in Kazakhstan, Canada, and Australia.

Kazakhstan produced about 43% of the world's uranium supply in 2019, Canada produced 13% and Australia produced 12%.

You can legally buy and legally posses uranium.

Uranium can actually be purchased online in small amounts through and

People typically buy uranium for experiments and science.

Not only can you legally buy uranium you also won't have to produce any special authorization to get it.

The purpose of buying Uranium-238, the most common isotope of the element, is purely for research.

By regulation, the general public is allowed to order these materials without possessing a radioactive materials license, so vendors will sell these compounds directly to any customer.

However, educational institutions are not allowed to possess more than 3.3 pounds of uranium or thorium at any one time.

Processed depleted uranium may be sold for commercial uses such as counterweights, military penetrators, shielding, etc.

Alternatively, material may be transferred to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) for a fee.

In the U.S., since 1986, it has been legal for anyone to own as much uranium 235 as they can pay for. (See 10 CFR 70.20 10 CFR 70.20 General license to own special nuclear material. )

Uranium is a silvery-white metallic chemical element in the periodic table, with atomic number 92.

It is assigned the chemical symbol U.

A uranium atom has 92 protons and 92 electrons, of which 6 are valence electrons.

Uranium has the highest atomic weight of all naturally occurring elements.

Inhaling large concentrations of uranium can cause lung cancer from the exposure to alpha particles.

Uranium is also a toxic chemical, meaning that ingestion of uranium can cause kidney damage from its chemical properties much sooner than its radioactive properties would cause cancers of the bone or liver.

A further property of U-235 is that it is fissile and so neutrons emitted during fission can cause other U-235 nuclei to fission also, releasing a lot of energy.

This reaction is the basis of operation for the world's current nuclear power stations and is the major reason why uranium is a valuable mineral resource.
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answered May 3, 2022 by Shawn (102,160 points)
Power Plants have someone on site to manage the generators and equipment and to respond in case something goes wrong.

Power plants have control rooms where someone is always in monitoring the system.

However sometimes the generator rooms will be unmanned until they need someone to be in them.

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