Nuclear fission is the process of breaking apart an atom, releasing the energy that holds the atom together. In the 1950s, nuclear fission of the radioactive isotope uranium-235 made energy cheaper and more efficient to produce. A nuclear reactor is a structure that produces this fission process from uranium-235. Nuclear power plants include one or more reactors along with large and complex mechanisms for cooling and containment.
The nuclear reactor itself is the key innovation here. The reactor controls the fission process from a very small amount of uranium-235 and channels the energy to heat rods which, in turn, heat water to produce steam. The steam moves a turbine and turns an electric generator, similar to the way wind and water turbines work. So, in essence, a nuclear plant is just a steam plant powered by its nuclear.
By using nuclear power, the world uses less of other resources, like coal and oil, to heat the water and produce steam. Despite this advantage, concerns still plague the minds of skeptics. Concerns include the safety of people who live and work in and around nuclear plants and the potential hazards of nuclear waste disposal. In addition, several notorious nuclear reactor disasters around the world have tainted the reputation of this energy source.
None of these great innovations in electric power would be widely available without the top innovation in our list. Let's check that out now.