About twenty percent of our electricity comes from nuclear energy. This book takes us inside a nuclear power plant and explains how uranium atoms get transformed into the power behind our light switches. It starts with a brief history of nuclear energy, an explanation of what an atom is, what radiation is, and how fission works. It then tells us how the actual power plant works (using the Prairie Island plant in Minnesota as the example), then how the power is distributed for use by the public. The book ends with discussions on nuclear waste and disposal issues, the future of nuclear power in this country, and brief descriptions of what happened at a few major accidents (Three Mile Island, Chernobyl). Full color photographs accompany the informative text.
School Library Journal
Gr 4-6A clear, readable introduction to nuclear power plants. Wilcox explains how the reactor produces heat, which in turn is used to generate electricity. She defines nuclear energy, fission, and radiation; describes how uranium is produced from ore and converted into rods in the fuel assembly; and discusses the multiple water loops and turbines that actually convert heat to electricity. Later chapters cover the control room, safety measures, and how transformers and power lines are used to deliver electricity to homes and businesses. Final sections discuss the problems of nuclear waste, environmental issues, and accidents at Three Mile Island and Chernobyl. Glossary entries are highlighted in the text. The full-color photographs and diagrams are attractive and informative. While the topic and reading level are appropriate for an upper-elementary audience, the book's size and large typeface give it a younger appearance. Similar to Nigel Hawkes's Nuclear Power (Rourke, 1990) in reading level and style, but with an American focus instead of a European one, Powerhouse is more basic than Dan Halacy's Nuclear Energy (Watts, 1978; o.p.). Overall, Wilcox's title is a solid, current update to both books.Jeffrey A. French, Cleveland Heights-University Heights Public Library