In light of the accident at the nuclear facility in Fukushima, Japan following the earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011, there has been an increased interest about nuclear power and nuclear reactors worldwide. Due to the desire for factual information about this important topic, we have added data on commercial nuclear power reactors—based on information from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)—to Wolfram|Alpha.
The IAEA’s database has information on all of the world’s commercial nuclear power plants, including those currently operating, those that have been shutdown, and reactors under construction. Ask Wolfram|Alpha for “all nuclear reactors”, and it is evident that nuclear power is a widely used source of electrical energy.
Clicking one of the reactors in the table (Kewaunee, for example) shows all the data available for the nuclear reactor, including its location; owner and operator; performance parameters; a list of nearby cities; and important dates, such as when construction started and when commercial operation began.
Relevant performance values are provided in the “Power generation” pod. Energy production is the total amount of electrical power supplied by the nuclear reactor in the most recent year. The energy availability factor is the percentage of net electrical energy available after accounting for losses during the year; the load factor reflects the fraction of the theoretical maximum power actually provided to the electrical grid. Time on line and the operational factor indicate how much of the year the reactor was actually online and producing electricity. The values shown are for the most recent year, along with lifetime totals and averages for these values, calculated by Wolfram|Alpha. Click the “Show history” button, and Wolfram|Alpha provides graphs showing how the yearly and cumulative values have changed over the life of the reactor.
We can further investigate these operational parameters with Wolfram|Alpha. Ask Wolfram|Alpha about the most powerful nuclear reactors or the reactors with the highest lifetime load factor. Wolfram|Alpha can also make comparisons between specific reactors, such as comparing the “energy availability factor of Diablo Canyon 2 versus Palo Verde 1”.
In addition to providing specific information about a single reactor, often there are several reactors constructed at the same site. The “Dresden nuclear power station”, for example, has three boiling water reactors onsite.
And for those curious about the history of nuclear power, the Dresden-1 nuclear reactor is among the “oldest US nuclear reactors”:
Or, if you are more interested in the future of nuclear power, ask Wolfram|Alpha about “nuclear reactors under construction”:
These are just a few examples of how Wolfram|Alpha allows us to explore the IAEA’s database of commercial nuclear power reactors, providing users an easily accessible and reputable source of knowledge at a time when there is considerable interest and concern about the subject.