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Transcript of Nuclear Energy
Nuclear energy comes from a radioactive mineral called uranium. Uranium is a non-renewable resource that must be mined. Uranium is mined where there are concentrations in the earth’s crust. Canada is the world’s largest supplier of uranium, producing 20 to 30 percent of supplies. Commercially, uranium is produced through the reduction of uranium halides with alkali earth metals. Although most people think uranium is extraordinarily rare, it is in fact more abundant than similiar elements such as mercury and silver. Most U.S. uranium mines use a process called in-situ leaching, which dissolves the mineral from the ore deep in the mine and then pumps it to the surface. Then a process called milling extracts the uranium and concentrates it to an oxide. In-situ leach (ISL) mining causes much less environmental disturbance than conventional open-pit mining.
There are two different reactors, the boiling water reactor and the pressurized water reactor. For a nuclear reactor to create energy it is necessary for nuclear fission to take place. This occurs when an atom is split into smaller particles and an enormous amount of energy is released in the process. Uranium, a radioactive mineral is used as the fuel for the reaction and is therefore unstable enough to be broken down into smaller parts. The uranium atom absorbs a neutron and splits into two equal parts and energy is created. This kinetic energy becomes heat energy as the particles slow down, and it is this heat energy, which is used to produce electricity. The heat is moved through a transfer medium, such as water, and is used to turn water into steam. This steam turns a turbine, which is connected to a generator. As the turbine turns the generator it creates electricity, which is then transferred to the consumers.
For more information please open this link for a video of the process for the two different reactors.
http://www.nei.org/How-It-Works/electricpowergeneration Raw materials are relatively cheap and can last quite a long time.
Nuclear Power is a highly reliable form of energy almost as good as other fossil fuel energy forms like coal, gas etc.
Large amounts of Nuclear Energy can be produced from fission on radioactive elements like uranium. The costs of nuclear fuel are relatively very low compared to other energy sources like coal and gas. Also uranium prices are quite low making the nuclear electricity price even lower.
Nuclear electricity does not produce any emissions or cause air pollution compared to fossil fuels like coal, oil or gas. This makes nuclear energy very attractive as a source of cheap, non-carbon dioxide producing electricity.
Nuclear power plants can generate power almost 24/7 and only require shutdown for maintenance.
Nuclear power plants don't require a lot of space. They have to be built on the coast, but do not need a large plot like a wind farm.
Nuclear power generation helps avoid about 2.5 billion tons of CO2 emissions annually worldwide.
Nuclear energy is by far the most concentrated form of energy. A lot of energy is produced from a small mass of fuel.
It produces a small volume of waste.
Nuclear power is one the safest methods of producing energy. There are a number of safety mechanisms that make the chances of reactor accidents very low.
This type of power is environmentally friendly and clean. In a world that faces global warming they suggest that increasing the use of nuclear power is the only way of protecting the environment and preventing catastrophic climate change.
Nuclear reactors can be manufactured small enough to power ships and submarines. Nuclear waste is highly toxic, and needs to be safely stored for hundreds or thousands of years (storage is extremely expensive).
Leakage of nuclear materials can have a devastating impact on people and the environment. It harms the cells of the body which can make humans sick or even cause death. Illness can appear or strike people years after they were exposed to nuclear radiation and genetic problems can occur.
The nuclear industry also produces a large volume of low-level radioactive waste in the form of items like clothing, hand tools and water purifier resins.
Many countries have used nuclear energy programs to generate fuel for developing nuclear weapons.
The time to construct a large Nuclear power project can take between 5-10 years which leads to time and cost overruns.
Disposal of nuclear waste is very expensive. As it is radioactive it has to be disposed of in such a way as it will not pollute the environment.
To suddenly stop using them would cause social problems for countries (eg. closing a nuclear plant would put lots of people out of work).
Safety - Working in these types of nuclear power plants is much more dangerous than working in another sort of energy plant. Explosions in these types of facilities cause much death and destruction. Working in these types of plants has been connected to cancer and to high levels of radiation within the body.The three major effects of radiation (cancer, radiation sickness and genetic mutation)
Storing and monitoring the radioactive waste material for thousands of years has a high cost.
Nuclear powered ships and submarines pose a danger to marine life and the environment. Nuclear reactors run all the time because they take the longest time to start.
Plutonium is a waste product from nuclear reactors. It can be used to make nuclear bombs
When it is let out all at once, it can cause a tremendous explosion.
In nuclear power plants, control rods are used to keep the splitting regulated so it doesn't go too fast.
One of the common worries of nuclear power is the danger of radiation leaks, espacially after the horrors of Chernobyl. In Cape Town we are fortunate that Koeberg is located on a platform, far beyond the internationally 10km distance from city limits.
The walls of reactors are also thick enough to withstand an earthquake or even a plane crash.
As the City of Cape Town has seen the plants aren't completely reliable. In 2006 there were many blackouts in the Cape Town, caused by faults and breakdowns in the Koeberg plant. Maintenance was being carried out on the one generator when the other generator failed and shut down causing blackouts for months during winter.
Koeberg is situated the furthest South of any nuclear reactors in the World.
Since 1973, Power plants have saved at least $44 billion dollars for energy.
The smoke you see coming out of nuclear reactors is actually steam.
In August 1945, near the end of World War 2, the United States used atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, leading to the death of approximately 200,000 people.
Nuclear energy is one of the least types of energy to cause deaths along with hydrogen.
Nuclear in Canada is GREATER THAN a $5B industry, with average annual wages around $100,000. Nuclear power generation directly and indirectly supports a total of 60,000 Canadian jobs, which would increase to 84,000 by 2017. Toronto- Nuclear power accounts for the same amount of electricity in Ontario 56-60% because
electricity is the same throughout Ontario. There are currently no nuclear power plants in
Ontario- Nuclear power accounts for almost 56-60% of Ontario’s energy source. There are about four
nuclear power plants in Ontario. Two in Pickering, one in Bruce and one in Darlington. Also
there are two prototypes in Ontario, one in Tiverton and the other in Rolphton.
Canada- About 15% of Canada's electricity comes from nuclear power, with approximately 19 reactors
mostly in Ontario, providing 11.5 GWe of power capacity. There are 6 nuclear power plants
in Canada. There are four in Ontario, one in New Brunswick and one in Quebec. Canada
generated 636 billion kWh in 2011, of which about 14.3% was from nuclear generation,
compared with 59% from hydro, 13% from coal and 8.4% from gas.
World- As of January 18, 2013 there are 437 nuclear power plant units in 31 countries with an installed
electric total capacity of about 372,000 GW are in operation. Annual electricity use is about
14,000 kWh per person, one of the highest levels in the world. France generates 78% percent
of its energy through nuclear reactors, demonstrating how important it can be as an energy
source. About 13% of the world's energy is nuclear energy.
Please open this link to see the important daily statistics of nuclear energy.
When evaluated if a type of technology is sustainable we take into account these factors:
Is it very light of impact on climate, land use, waste?
Is it disposal, fuel availability, safety (occupational, environmental)?
Does it have a positive impact on society?
Can it be used internationally?
Nuclear technologies contribute significantly to all of these needs. In addition, electricity generated from the use of nuclear power satisfies the economic and environmental protection goals.
Nuclear technology is not just used to supply electricity to the grid; it is in a wide variety of other uses such as medicine, heating and space travel.
Nuclear medicine uses radiation to allow doctors to make a quick, accurate diagnosis of the a person's specific organs, or to treat them. Radiotherapy can be used to treat some medical conditions, especially cancer, using radiation to weaken or destroy particular targeted cells. This is a sustainable way to use nuclear energy because radiation uses the sun`s light and heat. The sun is extremely sustainable so nuclear medicine can be beneficial to the future generations.
Nuclear technology is also used in space. Radioisotope thermal generators requires nuclear energy and are used in space missions. The heat generated by the decay of a radioactive source, often Plutonium-238, is used to generate electricity. Also nuclear technology is used to power mars rovers so that scientific and medical research can be done in outer space.
In the future electricity or heat from nuclear power plants could be used to make hydrogen. Hydrogen can be used in fuel cells to power cars, or can be burnt to provide heat in place of gas, without producing emissions that would cause climate change. Canadian Nuclear Association. (2013, 03 12).Nuclear Energy http://www.cna.ca/ Retrieved from
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What is Nuclear?. (2013, 03 16). Nuclear Energy http://www.whatisnuclear.com/ Retrieved from
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Nuclear energy . (2013, 03 17). http://members.tripod.com/ Retrieved from http://members.tripod.com/funk_phenomenon/nuclear/procon.htm
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Chemicool. (2013, 03 22).Uranium http://www.chemicool.com/ Retrieved from
March 22nd 2013 250g of uranium produces 20,000 times more electricity than 250g of coal and is far less polluting, especially to our atmosphere, as no harmful greenhouse gases are emitted. (ie. carbon monoxide, sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxide etc.). Therefore it is not a factor in global warming.
The amount of waste produced each year would cover only your dining room table! The waste is stored in fire, water, and earthquake proof capsules to ensure safety.
There is pollution in the form of radioactive waste but with new technologies the process is becoming cleaner and safer each year.
It is generally a reliable process that can be counted on to produce electricity for many years making it sustainable. Sustainable energy is the provision of energy such that it meets the needs of the present without affecting the ability of future.
Some people believe that there is as such no difference in sustainable energy and renewable energy but there is a difference. All renewable energy sources are sustainable energy sources but all sustainable energy sources cannot be defined as renewable energy. Nuclear energy is not considered a renewable energy source but it can be classified as a sustainable energy source.
The use of nuclear energy helps keep the air clean, preserve the Earth's climate, avoid ground-level ozone formation and prevent acid rain.
Of all energy sources, nuclear energy has perhaps the lowest impact on the environment, including water, land, habitat, species, and air resources. Therefore nuclear energy will protect biodiversity making it extremely beneficial to the future. Uranium was formally discovered in 1789, in Berlin, Germany by Martin Heinrich Klaproth. 1789 1945 Nuclear energy was first discovered accidentally by French physicist Henri Becquerel in 1896, when he found that photographic plates stored in the dark near uranium were blackened like X-ray plates, which had been just recently discovered at the time. Canada's first research reactor begins operation at Chalk River Ontario. The ZEEP research reactor is completed at Chalk River, Ontario. 1896 An experimental breeder reactor (EBR Reactor I, or EBR-I) in Idaho produced the first usable electric power from an atom, lighting four light bulbs. 1951 On June 27, 1954, the USSR's Obninsk Nuclear Power Plant became the world's first nuclear power plant to generate electricity for a power grid, and produced around 5 megawatts electric power. 1954 Scientists had already known that nuclear power could produce electricity. The purpose of the experimental EB was to prove that a breeder reactor could produce more fuel than it used. The International Atomic Energy Act was passed. The IAEA is the world's center of cooperation in the nuclear field. It was set up in 1957 as the world's "Atoms for Peace" organization within the United Nations family. 1957 1963 The first nuclear generated power is produced in Ontario, Canada. A Canadian reactor makes history that a pressurized water power reactor was fueled online. 1962 Construction of a nuclear power station begins in Pickering.
First nuclear reactor operates in space. 1965 The plant at Pickering, Ontario generated its first electricity. It produced more electricity than any nuclear power station in the world at that time. 1971 The world's worst nuclear power accident happened at the Chernobyl plant in the former USSR (now Ukraine). This disaster exposed millions of people to radioactive isotopes. 2002 On April 30, the oldest nuclear power plant in the world, Obninsk (located in Russia), closed down its only reactor.
Nuclear power provided about 16% of the world's electricity. On August 14, the USA largest-ever power outage left much of the Northeast and parts of Canada without electricity for several days. A transmission line in Ohio strained the electrical system so much that plants all over the grid, including nine U.S. and eight Canadian commercial nuclear reactors, were shut down. 2003 2012 1986 Nuclear powered mars rover operates with equipment. Nuclear fission is the act or process of splitting an atom into smaller parts
Fission occurs naturally or in a reaction
Fission occurs in a reaction when uranium atom is bombarded with particles. The nucleus of the atom is split into two or more parts.
If uranium-235 is used in fission the resulting split atom will cause a chain-reaction splitting vast amounts of atoms nearby(a nuclear weapon)
If uranium-238 is used the resulting split atom will not have enough energy to cause this chain reaction
This energy produced from the reaction is used to heat water. The boiled water produces steam. The steam powers turbines and the turbines power a generator Uranium-235 is an isotope of uramiun
it makes up about 0.727 of naturally occuring uranium
When used in a power plant the reaction from splitting a uranium-235 atom must be slowed in order to prevent a chain reaction of splitting atoms (a nuclear weapon)
The reaction is slowed by using "Control rods". These rods are made up of dements including boron cadmium and hafnium
These control rods absorb large amounts of neutrons slowing the reaction Most common isotope of uranium found in nature
Cannot support chain reaction
After splitting Uranium-238 atom turns into Plutonium-239
Plutonium-239 can be used as fuel or in a plutonium bomb (another form of nuclear weapon) http://needmedia.smugmug.com/Graphics/Graphics/17024036_Bdmf8C/1289372335_sjFxJzb#!i=1289372335&k=sjFxJzb http://www.studyblue.com/notes/note/n/energy-week-3/deck/2032259
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