Is it possible for a nuclear power plant to experience a nuclear explosion?

Please answer the question, then tell me why or why not?

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18 Responses to “Is it possible for a nuclear power plant to experience a nuclear explosion?”

  1. Christina said:

    how would anyone no??

  2. Wolfmoon said:
  3. peanutbutter13 said:

    I learned this in science when we covered different types of energy.

    A nuclear power plant can have a nuclear explosion, that’s why nuclear energy is extremely dangerous. Nuclear power contains high amounts of radioactivity, which can sometimes explode.

  4. Knightro said:

    No, nuclear power plants can only experience a melt down where it over heats and might possibly rupture the area allowing radiated material to leak out. Nuclear bombs work in a completely different way and use different materials as in plutonium or uranium 231.

    For a nuclear bomb to work you have to have be able to make all the material fission or fuse all at once to get a runaway reaction which results in a nuclear explosion. This is done with a spherical bomb placed around the material to compress it at the same time. Nuclear power plants don’t have any of this. They use Uranium to heat water which turns into steam that drives turbines. There is never any explosive material around to make it fuse. The worst case is if the cooling tanks fail as well as the backup systems and the uranium heats up to much causing a meltdown. After the past 2 nuclear power plant incidents they have put in more safety measures to insure this won’t happen again.

  5. Hollywood Ent. said:

    Just like it’s possible your hair will fall out. With all the safety measures in place the odds are low. The only thing that can explode is the hot steam building up if it got too hot

  6. lunatic said:

    No, it is not possible for a commercial nuclear power plant to experience a nuclear fission bomb-like explosion.

    The design of the fuel, both configuration and enrichment preclude a prompt critical chain reaction necessary for a bomb explosion.

  7. yeee haa said:

    of course. its happened in the Ukraine in the 80s.
    Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant disaster

    now the biggest ghost town in the world, check it out,_Ukraine

  8. [email protected] said:

    yes they do usualy this is down to human error you should read up on the ones that have happend in the past

  9. ola said:

    yh it is possibe when for example uranium is splitted in to two element with the release of energy. There are nuclear moderator e.g borium or cadium rod to slow down the reaction when it is going out of hands so it is possible for an explosion to occur if it isnt done accurately.

  10. Andy said:

    Technically yes, but not in the same way that a “nuclear bomb” would. Nuclear bombs are specifically and meticulously designed to go bang in a big way. Nuclear power plants are designed to NOT go bang.

    To be accurate, there have been times in the past (three big ones spring to mind) when nuclear plants have exploded and released radioactive material in a bad way, but the way it happened isn’t really connected to the way a nuclear bomb would go off.

    Look up Chernobyl for what has happened in the past. Nuclear power plants today are a different technology, and are run more safely.

    If a nuclear plant is badly maintained or a mistake made in its operation (actually a chain of mistakes), that could cause a catastrophe, and a leak (small or big) to happen.

    You should know about Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine in 1986. In its case, the guys who ran the plant decided to make a dangerous test, to see if safety systems would kick in when they were supposed to, by causing a — some would say dangerous — condition in which the safety systems should normally kick in.

    Some of the plant workers thought this was a bad idea, and disabled some some (other) safety system (I think it was an auxiliary power supply to be used in case of emergency). They thought, if they made the place less safe, then the guys who were planning that dangerous test would decide that it was too dangerous to now make that test.

    There was a shift change, it seems the new shift weren’t told important stuff at handover time, and the test went ahead anyway. Danger + danger + shift change + reckless attitude = explosion of nuclear reactor number 4. It blew its lid and contents sky high and they blew across Russia and Europe.

    That’s my take on it. If you believe the authorities (and I do) then it’s highly unlikely there’ll be another accident of this kind of scale.

  11. Philip J said:

    Absolutely not! Chernobyl was a uranium meltdown and a chemical explosion of hydrogen gas. For a thermonuclear explosion to occur, you must first have the uranium (or plutonium) machined to the exact correct shape, which is a hollow sphere. That has to be surrounded by precision shaped high-explosive charges, and there must be precision aluminum lenses between the explosive and the uranium. The explosive must be detonated simultaneously at many symmetrical locations. If one of the detonations is a microsecond too early or late, you get a dirty bomb, but no thermonuclear explosion. Everything about a nuclear power plant is drastically wrong for a thermonuclear explosion, and to get a thermonuclear explosion, everything must be exactly right.

  12. OldPilot said:

    No. The best (worst) you can hope for is a big puddle of radioactive slag. Neither, 3 Mile Island nor Chernobyl did that. 3 Mile Island was well contained and resulted in no loss of life. I don’t think there has even been a statistically significant increase in radiation related disease since. The problem at Chernobyl was the fire in the graphite that had to be fought exposing the firemen to radiation.

  13. arsanlupin said:

    Absolutely not – No way in hell. The stuff that makes an atom bomb go boom doesn’t exist in a nuclear reactor.

    Nuclear power plants can have accidents and explosions – yes. Sticking valves (3-Mile Island) or design flaws (Chernobyl) can cause steam explosions that can potentially destroy the generating plant.

    But you asked specifically about “nuclear explosion” as in a fission explosion as in A-bomb. The answer is absolutely NO. The reason is a little technical – I’ll try to make it simple.

    The reason has to do with isotopes – versions of an element that have the same number of protons and electrons in their atoms, but a different number of neutrons. Uranium 238 (92 protons 146 neutrons) is not fissile – it won’t support a fission reaction. Nuclear fission – the splitting of the atom – is what causes the energy release of uranium. The more rare Uranium 235 (92 protons 143 neutrons) is fissile.

    In nature, uranium exists as about 99.3% U-238 and 0.7% of U-235. To be used as either reactor fuel or as bomb-grade material, percentage of the fissile U-235 isotope needs to be increased – enriched. It’s the level of enrichment that is key.

    Here is the reason why one can never be the other. Reactor fuel is enriched to 3-5% fissile material to be capable of a sustained, controlled fission reaction. This fission generates a lot of heat, harnessed with pressurized water running through the reactor. In a worse-case scenario – design flaws AND falsified documents AND operator error AND safety systems disconnected or circumvented – could cause a steam explosion and a hydrogen gas explosion large enough to destroy the building – like Chernobyl. See link below.

    But to be capable of the UN-controlled fission reaction of an atomic bomb, the fissile material must be over 90% pure – or “highly enriched”. Because this is not present in a nuclear reactor, a nuclear explosion is physically – absolutely – impossible.

  14. David said:

    A nuclear power plant will not explode via a nuclear fission detonation but there have been many accidents around the world with pressure build ups and partial melt downs or radioisotope leakage.

    As examples, of the worst accidents involving core damage and explosions, consider: -

    On 10 October, 1957, the graphite core of a British nuclear reactor at Windscale, Cumberland (now Sellafield, Cumbria), caught fire, releasing substantial amounts of radioactive contamination into the surrounding area.

    The Three Mile Island accident of 1979 was a partial core meltdown in Unit 2 (a pressurised water reactor manufactured by Babcock & Wilcox) of the Three Mile Island Nuclear Generating Station in Dauphin County, Pennsylvania near Harrisburg. It was the most significant accident in the history of the American commercial nuclear power generating industry, resulting in the release of up to 13 million curies of radioactive noble gases, but less than 20 curies of the particularly hazardous iodine-131.

    The Chernobyl disaster was a nuclear reactor accident at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine, then part of the Soviet Union. It is considered to be the worst nuclear power plant disaster in history and the only level 7 instance on the International Nuclear Event Scale. It resulted in a severe release of radioactivity into the environment following a massive power excursion which destroyed the reactor. Two people died in the initial steam explosion, but most deaths from the accident were attributed to radiation.

    On 26 April 1986 01:23:45 a.m. (UTC+3) reactor number four at the Chernobyl plant, near Pripyat in the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, exploded. Further explosions and the resulting fire sent a plume of highly radioactive fallout into the atmosphere and over an extensive geographical area. Four hundred times more fallout was released than had been by the atomic bombing of Hiroshima.

  15. Mike A said:

    Chernobyl was not a nuclear explosion an no it is not possible for one to take place in a nuclear power plant. What can happen is a reactor runaway where the reactor becomes uncontrollable and there is some sort of structure failure resulting in leaks and contamination. Not at all pleasant if you’re there at the time but not a nuclear explosion by any means.

  16. lizzie said:

    my dad is a nuclear engineer so he knows about these things btw.
    the answer is no a nuclear explosion (as in an a-bomb) is not possible. my answer is similar to that of ‘arsanlupin’ this is because the process that occurs in a nuclear power station is completely different from that which occurs in an a-bomb.
    hope this helps. if not then ‘arsanlupin’ gives a more detailed explanation of the processes

  17. Forum Administrator said:

    Nuclear bombs involve the forces, strong and weak, that hold the nucleus of an atom together, especially atoms with unstable nuclei. There are two basic ways that nuclear energy can be released from an atom. In nuclear fission (pictured), scientists split the nucleus of an atom into two smaller fragments with a neutron. Nuclear fusion — the process by which the sun produces energy — involves bringing together two smaller atoms to form a larger one. In either process, fission or fusion, large amounts of heat energy and radiation are given off.


  18. Forum Administrator said:


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