1943 to Present
WorldwideNuclear power is the use of nuclear reactions that release nuclear energy to generate heat, which most frequently is then used in steam turbines to produce electricity in a nuclear power plant. Nuclear power can be obtained from nuclear fission, nuclear decay, and nuclear fusion reactions. Presently, the vast majority of electricity from nuclear power is produced by nuclear fission of uranium and plutonium.
In 1932, physicist Ernest Rutherford discovered that when lithium atoms were "split" by protons from a proton accelerator, immense amounts of energy were released by the principle of mass-energy equivalence. However, he and other nuclear physics pioneers Niels Bohr and Albert Einstein believed harnessing the power of the atom for practical purposes anytime shortly was unlikely.
In 1938, German chemists Otto Hahn and Fritz Strassmann, along with Austrian physicist Lise Meitner and Meitner's nephew, Otto Robert Frisch, conducted experiments with the products of neutron-bombarded uranium, as a means of further investigating Fermi's claims. They determined that the relatively tiny neutron split the nucleus of the massive uranium atoms into two roughly equal pieces, contradicting Fermi. This was an extremely surprising result; all other forms of nuclear decay involved only small changes to the mass of the nucleus, whereas this process—dubbed "fission" as a reference to biology—involved a complete rupture of the nucleus.
The United States tested the first nuclear weapon in July 1945, the Trinity test. Trinity was the code name of the first detonation of a nuclear device. It was conducted by the United States Army at 5:29 a.m. on July 16, 1945, as part of the Manhattan Project.
Hiroshima is best remembered as the first city targeted by a nuclear weapon when the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) dropped the atomic bomb "Little Boy" on the city at 8:15 a.m. on August 6, 1945. Most of the city was destroyed, and by the end of the year 90,000–166,000 had died as a result of the blast and its effects. The Hiroshima Peace Memorial (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) serves as a memorial of the bombing.
Experimental Breeder Reactor I (EBR-I) is a decommissioned research reactor and U.S. National Historic Landmark located in the desert about 18 miles (29 km) southeast of Arco, Idaho. It was the world's first breeder reactor. At 1:50 p.m. on December 20, 1951, it became one of the world's first electricity-generating nuclear power plants.
USS Nautilus (SSN-571) was the world's first operational nuclear-powered submarine and the first submarine to complete a submerged transit of the North Pole. Her initial commanding officer was Eugene Parks "Dennis" Wilkinson, a widely respected naval officer who set the stage for many of the protocols of today's Nuclear Navy, and who had a storied career during military service and afterward.
On June 27, 1954, the USSR's Obninsk Nuclear Power Plant, based on what would become the prototype of the RBMK reactor design, became the world's first nuclear power plant to generate electricity for a power grid, producing around 5 megawatts of electric power. the first nuclear reactor that produced electricity industrially, albeit at small scale.
Calder Hall, was first connected to the grid on 27 August 1956 and officially opened by Queen Elizabeth II on 17 October 1956, It was the world's first nuclear power station to provide electricity on a commercial scale to a public grid.
USS Skate (SSN-578), the third submarine of the United States Navy named for the skate, a type of ray, was the lead ship of the Skate class of nuclear submarines. She was the third nuclear submarine commissioned, the first to make a completely submerged trans-Atlantic crossing, and the second submarine to reach the North Pole and the first to surface there.
USS Bainbridge (DLGN-25/CGN-25)was a nuclear-powered guided-missile cruiser in the United States Navy, the only ship of her class. Named in honor of Commodore William Bainbridge, she was the fourth US Navy ship to bear the name. she was the first nuclear-powered destroyer-type ship in the US Navy, and shared her name with the lead ship of the first US Navy destroyer class, the Bainbridge-class destroyers.
France is one of the five "Nuclear Weapons States" under the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. France was the fourth country to test an independently developed nuclear weapon in 1960, under the government of Charles de Gaulle.
USS Queenfish was the first nuclear-powered warship to visit Australia. Queenfish berthed at Station Pier, Melbourne, on 5 March 1968. The visit was a success, despite anti-nuclear protests. Queenfish spent the early months of 1967 practicing under-ice operations in the Davis Strait.
India has conducted nuclear weapons tests in a pair of series namely Pokhran I and Pokhran II. India has signed neither the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty nor the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, considering both to be flawed and discriminatory.
South Africa reached an understanding with the United States after signing a 50-year collaboration under the U.S.-sanctioned programme, Atoms for Peace. The treaty concluded the South African acquisition of a single nuclear research reactor and an accompanying supply of highly enriched uranium (HEU) fuel, located in Pelindaba. South Africa was able to mine uranium ore domestically and used aerodynamic nozzle enrichment techniques to produce weapons-grade material.
In 1982, amongst a backdrop of ongoing protests directed at the construction of the first commercial-scale breeder reactor in France, a later member of the Swiss Green Party fired five RPG-7 rocket-propelled grenades at the still under construction containment building of the Superphenix reactor. Two grenades hit and caused minor damage to the reinforced concrete outer shell. It was the first time protests reached such heights. After examination of the superficial damage, the prototype fast breeder reactor started and operated for over a decade.
The Krško Nuclear Power Plant is located in Vrbina in the Municipality of Krško, Slovenia. The plant was connected to the power grid on October 2, 1981, and went into commercial operation on January 15, 1983. It was built as a joint venture by Slovenia and Croatia which were at the time both parts of Yugoslavia.
The Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant is a decommissioned two-unit RBMK-1500 nuclear power station in Visaginas Municipality, Lithuania. It was named after the nearby city of Ignalina. Due to the plant's similarities to the infamous Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in both reactors.
Koeberg nuclear power station is a nuclear power station in South Africa. It is currently the only one on the entire African continent. It is located 30 km north of Cape Town, near Melkbosstrand on the west coast of South Africa. Koeberg is owned and operated by the country's only national electricity supplier, Eskom. The two reactors form the cornerstone of the South African nuclear program.
Over 120 reactor proposals in the United States were ultimately cancelled and the construction of new reactors ground to a halt. A cover story in the February 11, 1985, issue of Forbes magazine commented on the overall failure of the U.S. nuclear power program, saying it "ranks as the largest managerial disaster in business history".
The Palo Verde Generating Station is a nuclear power plant located near Tonopah, Arizona, in western Arizona. It is located about 45 miles (72 km) due west of downtown Phoenix, Arizona, and it is located near the Gila River, which is dry save for the rainy season in late summer. The Palo Verde Generating Station is the largest power plant in the United States by net generation.
Accidents in nuclear power plants include the Chernobyl disaster in the Soviet Union in 1986. It is considered the worst nuclear disaster in history and was caused by one of only two nuclear energy accidents rated at seven the maximum severity on the International Nuclear Event Scale.
Superphénix was a nuclear power station prototype on the Rhône river at Creys-Malville in France, close to the border with Switzerland. Superphénix was a 1,242 MWe fast breeder reactor with the twin goals of reprocessing nuclear fuel from France's line of conventional nuclear reactors, while also being an economical generator of power on its own.
Pakistan is one of nine states to possess nuclear weapons. Bhutto was the main architect of this programme, and it was here that Bhutto orchestrated the nuclear weapons programme and rallied Pakistan's academic scientists to build an atomic bomb in three years for national survival.
The Higashidōri Nuclear Power Plant is located in the village of Higashidōri in northeastern Aomori Prefecture, on the Shimokita Peninsula, facing the Pacific Ocean. The plant has not generated electricity since Japan's 2011 nationwide nuclear shutdown in the aftermath of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear.
The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster was due to a 2011 nuclear accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in Ōkuma, Fukushima Prefecture initiated by the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami. It was the most severe nuclear accident since the Chernobyl disaster in 1986, and the only other accident to receive the Level 7 event classification of the International Nuclear Event Scale.
Following the Tōhoku earthquake on 11 March 2011, one of the largest earthquakes ever recorded, and a subsequent tsunami off the coast of Japan, the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant suffered three core meltdowns due to failure of the emergency cooling system for lack of electricity supply. This resulted in the most serious nuclear accident since the Chernobyl disaster.