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Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant

photo of Browns Ferry

Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant is on the north shore of Wheeler Reservoir in north Alabama. It was TVA’s first nuclear power plant, and the largest in the world when it began operation in 1974. It was the first nuclear plant in the world to generate more than 1 billion watts of power.

Nuclear power production

The three operating units at Browns Ferry are boiling water nuclear reactors. They make electricity by splitting uranium atoms to produce steam. The steam is piped to turbines, which spin a generator to produce electricity.

Once the steam leaves the turbines it is cooled in an area called a condenser and changes back to water. The water is pumped back to the reactor to begin the process again.

Uranium fuel for the reactors is refined from ore and formed into metal pellets about the size of the end of your little finger. The pellets are stacked in tubes, and 75 to 94 of the tubes are bundled together into a fuel assembly.

Control rods, long cross shaped (+) poles, are inserted into the reactor core to control the production of power. Slowly moving the control rods to expose the fuel rods lets the atoms start to split; moving the rods to cover the fuel rods slows the nuclear reaction down.

Recirculation pumps add pressure to water circulating through the reactor. With the pumps forcing the water through the reactor at top speed, the reactor makes enough steam to turn the turbines at 100 percent capacity, generating more than a billion watts of electricity.





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