What are the types of nuclear technology? - SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY - NUCLEAR Science

Also Read


Nuclear energy is the energy that comes from the core or the nucleus of an atom. The bonds which hold the atoms together contain a massive amount of energy. This energy must be released in order to make electricity. This energy can be freed in two ways: nuclear fission and nuclear fusion.

Uses of Nuclear energy

Today most people are aware of the important use of nuclear energy makes in cleanly providing a significant proportion of the world’s electricity.

Applications of Nuclear Energy

Nuclear energy is the production of electric energy. Nuclear power plants are responsible for generating electricity. Nuclear fission reactions are generated in the nuclear reactors of nuclear power plants. With these reactions thermal energy is obtained which will be transformed into mechanical energy and later into electrical energy. 

There are many applications of nuclear energy where nuclear technology is used directly or indirectly. These are:

1. Military applications, nuclear weapons.

2. Nuclear medicine.

3. Gamma Sterilisation.

4. Smoke detectors

5. Radiotherapy

6. Gamma radiography.

7. Industrial tracers.

8. Dating.

Nuclear reactors

A nuclear reactor, formerly known as an atomic pile, it is a device used to initiate and control a sustained nuclear chain reaction. Nuclear reactors are used at nuclear power plants for electricity generation and in the propulsion of ships.

Nuclear reactors are divided into two categories:

  • Thermal Reactors: Almost all of the current reactors which have been built use thermal neutrons to sustain the chain reaction. These reactors also contain neutron moderator that slows neutrons from fission
  • Fast Neutron Reactors: Fast reactors contains no neutron moderator and use less-moderating primary coolants because they use fast neutrons to cause fission in their fuel.

Types of Nuclear Reactors

Breeder Reactor

A breeder reactor is essentially a particular configuration of a fast reactor. The most common breeding reaction is an absorption reaction on uranium-238, where a plutonium-239 from nonfissionable uranium-238 is produced.

Pressurized Water Reactor – PWR

Pressurized water reactors use a reactor pressure vessel (RPV) to contain the nuclear fuel, moderator, control rods, and coolant. They are cooled and moderated by high-pressure liquid water.

Boiling water reactor – BWR

A boiling water reactor is cooled and moderated by water like a PWR, but at a lower pressure (7MPa), which allows the water to boil inside the pressure vessel producing the steam that runs the turbines.

CANDU – Heavy Water Reactor

The CANDU reactor design (or PHWR – Pressurized Heavy Water Reactor) has been developed since the 1950s in Canada, and more recently also in India. These reactors are heavy water-cooled and moderated pressurized water reactors. Instead of using a single large reactor vessel as in a PWR or BWR, the nuclear core is contained in hundreds of pressure tubes. PHWRs generally use natural uranium (0.7% U-235) oxide as fuel, hence need a more efficient moderator, in this case, heavy water (D2O).

Nuclear Power

Nuclear power for civil use is well established in India. Since building the two small boiling water reactors at Tarapur in the 1960s, its civil nuclear strategy has been directed towards complete independence in the nuclear fuel cycle, necessary because it is excluded from the 1970 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) due to it acquiring nuclear weapons capability after 1970.


The Atomic Energy Commission was set up in August 1948 to look after atomic energy activities in the country. The functions of the Atomic Energy Commission are:

(i) To organize research in atomic science in the country;

(ii) To train, atomic scientists in the country;

(iii) To promote nuclear research in commissions own laboratories as well as in India;

(iv) To undertake the prospect of atomic minerals in India and to extract such minerals for use on an industrial scale.

It has five research centers viz.

  • Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), Mumbai
  • Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research (IGCAR), Kalpakkam (Tamil Nadu)
  • Raja Ramanna Centre for Advanced Technology (RRCAT), Indore
  • Variable Energy Cyclotron Centre (VECC), Kolkata
  • Atomic Minerals Directorate for Exploration and Research (AMD), Hyderabad.

It also gives financial assistance to autonomous national institutes doing research in the field and has various other organizations under it.