Advanced gascooled reactor

The advanced gas-cooled reactor (AGR) is a specifically UK breed of reactor that was developed from the design for the very first nuclear reactor to generate electricity for commercial use, a reactor built at Calder Hall in Cumbria, UK. The AGR employs a graphite moderator and uses carbon dioxide as its coolant.

The graphite moderator in an AGR is pierced by a series of channels into which fuel rods are placed. The rods, clad in zirconium alloy, contain uranium in the form of uranium oxide, enriched with 2% uranium-235. Carbon dioxide floods the core. This carbon dioxide carries the heat generated by fission in the reactor to a heat exchanger where it is used to generate steam to drive a turbine.

Several AGRs have been built in the UK but these have been found to be more costly to operate than was initially anticipated and no further units of this design are planned. Instead, the last nuclear power plant built in the UK employed a US PWR design.

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