This article is a subarticle of Nuclear power.A nuclear reactor, formerly known as atomic pile, is a device used to initiate and control a sustained nuclear chain reaction. Nuclear reactors are used at nuclear power plants for electricity generation and in propulsion of ships. Heat from nuclear fission is passed to a working fluid (water or gas), which runs through turbines. These either drive a ship's propellers or turn electrical generators. Nuclear generated steam in principle can be used for industrial process heat or for district heating. Some reactors are used to produce isotopes for medical and industrial use, or for production of weapons-grade plutonium. Some are run only for research. Today there are about 450 nuclear power reactors that are used to generate electricity in about 30 countries around the world.