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Published on August 18th, 2012 | by Nicholas Brown

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Global Warming May Affect Existing Nuclear Power Plants

August 18th, 2012 by  


 
At a twin-unit nuclear power plant in northeastern Illinois, the weather recently became so hot that the temperature of the cooling pond of the plant exceeded the level permitted, at 102 degrees.

The permitted level was originally 98 degrees, and has been increased to 100 degrees.

The cooling pond is a 2,500-acre (10-square-km) lake in a former strip-mine.

In the situation above, special permission was given to the power plant operators to allow it to continue operation despite the abnormality.

The pond absorbs heat from the power plant to help keep it cool. This is due to the fact that the hotter the weather is, the more saturated the air becomes with heat, and this decreases the amount of heat the air will absorb from the pond.

Global warming causes average global temperatures to increase very slowly and gradually, however, according to Craig Nesbit: “I’m not a climatologist. But clearly the calculations when the plant was first operated in 1986 are not what is sufficient today, not all the time.”

This is apparently a new problem which the plant’s pond didn’t have in the 1980s, and this does suggest that the average temperature of the plant’s location has increased. Temperatures at night has been in the 90s, which is too hot to enable the pond to cool off. The pond absorbs heat from the plant, then radiates that heat into the surrounding air.

Another implication that climate change may have for nuclear power plants is drought. Nuclear power plants require a large amount of water to stay cool, and drought causes water shortages. The states of Georgia and Alabama could be affected by this in the future.

Source: ClimateCrocks.com
Image: nuclear power plant in Illinois via Shutterstock
 
 

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About the Author

writes on CleanTechnica, Gas2, Kleef&Co, and Green Building Elements. He has a keen interest in physics-intensive topics such as electricity generation, refrigeration and air conditioning technology, energy storage, and geography. His website is: Kompulsa.com.



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