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.
Image: nuclear power plant in Illinois via Shutterstock
I don't like paywalls. You don't like paywalls. Who likes paywalls? Here at CleanTechnica, we implemented a limited paywall for a while, but it always felt wrong — and it was always tough to decide what we should put behind there. In theory, your most exclusive and best content goes behind a paywall. But then fewer people read it! We just don't like paywalls, and so we've decided to ditch ours. Unfortunately, the media business is still a tough, cut-throat business with tiny margins. It's a never-ending Olympic challenge to stay above water or even perhaps — gasp — grow. So ...
Sign up for daily news updates from CleanTechnica on email. Or follow us on Google News!
Have a tip for CleanTechnica, want to advertise, or want to suggest a guest for our CleanTech Talk podcast? Contact us here.