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Difference between Thermal Power Plant and Nuclear Power Plant
An electric power plant, also called generating station, is a setup that is used for generating electrical power. A power plant consists of a number of alternators (AC generators) which are driven by the prime movers such as IC engines, steam turbine, gas turbine, etc.
The energy from some source such as steam, water, burning of fossil fuels, nuclear reaction, etc. is given to the prime mover, it starts rotating, and in turn rotate the alternator to which it is coupled. The alternator coverts this mechanical energy of rotation of turbine into electrical energy, which is then transmitted for the utilization.
Based on the method used for generating electricity, a number of power plants are available like −
Thermal power plant
Hydroelectric power plant
Gas power plant
Diesel power plant
Nuclear power plant, etc.
In this post, we will provide a comparison of thermal power plant and nuclear power plant by considering various parameters such as basic definition, fuel, source of energy, size, efficiency, etc. But, before going into differentiation, it is better to know that what a thermal power plant and a nuclear power plant are.
What is a Thermal Power Plant?
A thermal power plant, also called steam turbine power plant or coal based power plant, is a power generating station which converts heat energy of burning of coal into electrical energy.
In a thermal power plant, the heat energy is produced by burning of coal. This heat energy is then used to boil water to produce steam. The steam produced spins a steam turbine which drives an alternator and produces electricity.
After one cycle, the steam is condensed and converted into water for reuse and this cycle is repeated again and again for producing electrical energy.
What is a Nuclear Power Plant?
A type of power generating station in which nuclear energy is converted into electrical energy is known as nuclear power plant.
In a nuclear power plant, heavy elements such as uranium, thorium, etc. are subjected to nuclear fission. The nuclear fission releases a huge amount of heat energy which is utilized in raising steam at high temperature and pressure. This steam then spins the steam turbine which converts the steam energy into mechanical energy. The turbine is connected to an alternator which converts the mechanical energy into electrical energy.
Difference between Thermal Power Plant and Nuclear Power Plant
Both thermal power plant and nuclear power plant convert steam energy into mechanical energy and then electrical energy. However, there are several differences between thermal power plant and nuclear power plant that are highlighted in the following table −
Basis of Difference
Thermal Power Plant
Nuclear Power Plant
|A power generating station which converts heat energy of coal combustion into electricity is known as thermal power plant.||A power generating station which converts nuclear energy into electricity is known as nuclear power plant.|
Method of heat production
|In thermal power plants, heat is produced by the burning of coal.||The heat is produced by the nuclear fission of heavy elements.|
Location of plant
|Thermal power plant is located at a place where huge water and coal is available and the transportation facilities are adequate.||The nuclear power plants are located quite away from the populated areas because they uses radioactive materials that can harm humans and animals.|
|The capital cost of thermal power plant is low.||The capital cost of nuclear power plant is very high.|
|Thermal power plant involves high operating cost because it requires huge amount of coal.||The operating cost of nuclear power plant is comparatively lower than thermal power plant. It is because a small amount of nuclear fuel can produce relatively large amount of power.|
|Fossil fuels, mainly coal, is used in the thermal power plants.||Radioactive elements such as uranium, thorium, etc. are used as fuel in nuclear power plants.|
Fuel transportation cost
|In thermal power plant, huge amount of coal is transported to the plant site, which causes high cost of fuel transportation.||Nuclear plants need small quantity of fuel. Hence, the cost of fuel transportation is low.|
|The maintenance cost of thermal power plant is less than nuclear power plant.||Maintenance cost of nuclear power plant is comparatively high because highly trained persons are required for maintenance.|
|In thermal power plants, the standby losses are very high because the boiler remains in operation even when the turbine is not working.||The standby losses in a nuclear power plant are less.|
|Thermal power plants require large area for installation.||The area required to install a nuclear power plant is comparatively smaller than thermal power plant.|
|Thermal power plants require a lot of time for starting.||For nuclear power stations, the starting times is comparatively less.|
|The lifespan of a thermal power plant is small.||Nuclear power plant has relatively longer life span.|
|Thermal power plants produce ash, smoke which cause pollution of atmosphere.||Nuclear power plants cause radioactive pollution.|
The most notable difference between a Thermal Power Plant and a Nuclear Power Plant is that a thermal power plant uses coal to produce heat energy, whereas a nuclear power plant uses nuclear fission of heavy elements to produce required heat energy.
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