Monday, September 12, 2005

A "Local" Nuclear Power Plant

On my flight back from Tennessee the other day, the plane necessarily took the southern route back to Philadelphia and I got some cool aerial shots of a nuclear power plant. Nuclear power plants are interesting because they are a curious combination of the simple and the complicated. Electricity generation is accomplished simply by heating steam and running it through a turbine connected to a generator. The complication comes in that the heat source is a radioactive pile that must be carefully controlled. It is a great application of technology from the beginning and the end of the industrial revolution in one package.

This nuclear plant is quite close to my home in Wilmington, you can see the cooling tower from a number of hills in the city as you are driving around. The Hope Creek and Salem Creek nuclear reactors share the same artificial island across the Delaware river in New Jersey. The plant is cool to look at from the Delaware side, and when you are driving to the beaches you are reminded they are there because of the sirens on the poles on the side of the roads which will sound in warning of there is ever a problem. I am pretty sure that my toaster and other appliances get at least some of their electricity from this plant. My pictures were pretty good, especially for a Treo out the window of plane, as the plane was flying quite low at the time. They are not as good as Google's aerial view of the Hope Creek and Salem Creek reactors, but of course, Google uses satellites.

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