The startup procedures for a nuclear reactor and its engine room were something to behold.
Or, in the case of a commercial nuclear plant, you could power a city.
To become good at starting up a reactor and engine room, you needed to become proficient at working in parallel.
There were lots of procedures going at the same time, and you usually were preparing to get the boat underway, as the reactor is typically shutdown in port.
Here’s how the overlapping processes looked – big picture — for a nuclear powered submarine:
- Make reactor calculations
- Brief the teams
- Startup the reactor and engine room
- Once generating power, remove the shore power
- Once procedures complete, get underway
So, you could say there were a lot of moving parts. There are overlapping procedures, involving multiple teams of people.
When you are first learning to lead the startup process, it can be quite overwhelming. Sometimes you screw it up. Luckily, there are experienced people around to *gently* guide you back on path.
There aren’t very many shortcuts to learning this, besides studying the procedures and then doing them.
I remember the first time at nuclear prototype school when the instructor tried to draw the process out on the board. I felt out of my league, but by the end of my tour on the submarine, I could easily lead the whole thing and even taught junior officers how to do it, too.
To start it off, your enlisted Reactor Operator starts remotely pulling the control rods up out of the reactor by a few inches. This makes the reactor more, well, “reactive” and start producing lots of neutrons.
As you pull the control rods further out, and add power, eventually the reactor becomes “critical.”
Being critical isn’t a bad thing for a reactor, it’s important. At that point, the reactor is making just as many neutrons as it is losing them. Call it breaking even.
Pull the rods out more, and you get supercritical, then you really start cooking.
Really, you actually start cooking now because the neutrons bounce around on the water molecules and heat them up. It’s beautiful! Ha
I hope you have enjoyed this primer on nuclear power! If you live in the US and pay taxes, you probably helped pay for my nuclear power education, so the least I could do is share some of it with you. Heh
In the March issue of Frac Sand Fortunes, subscribers will get a real education on the frac sand biz.
You see, searching for frac sand and inventing new products for the frac sand industry can be complicated ventures.
Lots of moving parts, just like the reactor and engine room startup procedures.
You need that experienced voice telling and showing you exactly how to do it. Helping you along the way.
Gently guiding as you learn the industry.
In the March issue of Frac Sand Fortunes, frac sand explorer Stuart Burgess drills down to the atomic level on exactly how to search for frac sand and how to identify frac sand deposits.
Jim Roemer goes *supercritical* on the trials and tribulations involved with inventing and bringing a new product into the frac sand industry.
Both interviews are “nuclear powered,” for sure.