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  1. Jun 2019
    1. Nuclear graphite is any grade of graphite, usually synthetic graphite, specifically manufactured for use as a moderator or reflector within a nuclear reactor. Graphite is an important material for the construction of both historical and modern nuclear reactors, due to its extreme purity and its ability to withstand extremely high temperatures.
    1. In most reactor designs, as a safety measure, control rods are attached to the lifting machinery by electromagnets, rather than direct mechanical linkage. This means that in the event of power failure, or if manually invoked due to failure of the lifting machinery, the control rods fall automatically, under gravity, all the way into the pile to stop the reaction. A notable exception to this fail-safe mode of operation is the BWR, which requires hydraulic insertion in the event of an emergency shut-down, using water from a special tank under high pressure. Quickly shutting down a reactor in this way is called scramming.
    2. Control rods are used in nuclear reactors to control the fission rate of uranium and plutonium. They are composed of chemical elements such as boron, silver, indium and cadmium that are capable of absorbing many neutrons without themselves fissioning. Because these elements have different capture cross sections for neutrons of varying energies, the composition of the control rods must be designed for the reactor's neutron spectrum. Boiling water reactors (BWR), pressurized water reactors (PWR) and heavy water reactors (HWR) operate with thermal neutrons, while breeder reactors operate with fast neutrons.