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The Power Plant
Energy exists in various forms but electrical energy is the most convenient form of energy. It can be transported with ease, generated in different ways, and can be converted into mechanical work or heat energy.
A power plant (also known as power station or powerhouse) is basically an industrial enterprise for the generation of electrical energy. The basic purpose of a power plant is to convert other types of energy such as chemical energy, nuclear energy, geothermal energy, falling water energy (hydroelectric dams) into electric power. The electric equipment used inside a power plant converts mechanical energy into electrical energy using turbines and alternators.
Fossil fuel power plant
Thermal Power Plants convert heat energy into electrical energy. Heat is generated by burning fossil fuels like coal, petroleum, or natural gas. These power plants are also called the fossil fueled power plants. The working fluid of these plants is mostly steam. A steam power plant consists of a boiler which is used to generate the steam from water, a steam turbine rotating the alternator to produce electricity. The steam is again condensed in the condenser and fed to the boiler again.
Hydro Power Plants use the kinetic energy of flowing water to produce electrical energy. Hydro power plants store water in large reservoirs. Water in these reservoirs flows down the dam and rotates a turbine. As the blades of a turbine turn, so do the magnets inside the generator which is connected to the turbine. These magnets rotate past copper coils and with each rotation, electricity is produced. The major drawback of hydro power plants is that they are highly dependent on the hydrological cycle of the area where they are built.
Nuclear Power Plants work on the chemical process of fission. Fission is a nuclear reaction in which atoms of certain elements called nuclear fuels absorb free neutrons. Then they split into two or more smaller nuclei and some free neutrons. In this process, large amount of energy is released. The free neutrons further strike the atoms of other fissile materials, thus beginning a chain reaction. The energy released from this chain reaction is used to generate electricity.
Nuclear power plants have ways to control or stop these reactions when they go out of control. The nuclear fuel used in the nuclear power plants is Uranium-235 or Plutonium-239. A lot of radioactive material is created in the process of fission. These substances remain radioactive for long time, so, there exists the problem of managing nuclear waste.
A wind farm is a renewable energy converter. The energy generated by a wind farm can be fed directly into the general energy grid after passing through transformers. Wind farms are a large source of renewable energy. Once installed, a wind farm can operate for a long time.
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