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Introduction to steam generators – from Heron of Alexandria to nuclear power plants: Brief history and literature survey

Abstract of the journal article published in Steam Generators for Nuclear Power Plants, Woodhead Publishing, Elsevier, Duxford, UK,
published in 2017

Jovica R Riznic
Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission


A summary of the history of nuclear steam generators was obtained from a variety of sources for the purpose of detailing the origins of steam-powered technology through its development into nuclear power plant steam generator models. The summary presented in this introductory chapter is not comprehensive of all of the advancements made through the development of the steam generation processes, systems and engineered equipment for power applications, although it includes many of the milestones such as first device to produce useful work, first nuclear power plant connected to the grid and first patent on nuclear steam generators. Discussion of international experience with steam generators includes statistics and information on an assortment of the most frequently used design types. Nuclear steam generator types discussed include the most common vertical U-tube design for pressurized water reactors, combustion engineering and Korean AP1400 reactors, the straight-tube design of once-through steam generators and steam generators for pressurized heavy water reactors, as well as the horizontal steam generator design for VVER plants. Statistics on steam generators were obtained using the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) PRIS database. A search of patents was conducted on the World Intellectual Property Organization’s Patentscope database for the purpose of comparing trends in the evolution of steam generators. Furthermore, the growth of the steam generators body of knowledge was tracked by conducting a literature survey of steam-generator-related publications found in the IAEA’s International Nuclear Information System database, the Electric Power Research Institute’s database and Elsevier’s SCOPUS database of scientific publications.

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