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Transcript of Nuclear Energy
In order to explain what nuclear energy actually is we need to first explain
This is the splitting of a large, heavy atom into two or more smaller ones.
How does it happen
Fission can occur when the nucleus of a heavy atom (Uranium) captures a neutron.
In the process the uranium atom splits into 2 atoms with equal mass and this releases a massive amount of energy.
But along with those 2 smaller atoms several neutrons are also emitted. Because of this there is a chain reaction
These neutrons can induce fission in the smaller atoms which can release more neutrons that can repeat the sequence, causing this chain reaction
As a result an enormous amount of energy is released. Such a chain reaction can provide power for a whole city. But this energy also has the power to destruct an entire city by means of the atomic bomb.
The energy that is released by the fission process is used to heat water to about 520 degrees Fahrenheit to produce steam to turn on a turbine to finally have a large output of electricity.
All of this takes place in a nuclear reactor also known as a power plant which is a series of machines that can control nuclear fission to produce electricity.
Advantages & Disadvantages of Nuclear Energy
Nuclear power produces enormous amounts of energy from very little fuel. One pound of uranium has as much energy as three million pounds of coal.
So to speak it does not contribute to global warming. Emit relatively low amounts of carbon dioxide (CO2). Most environmentally friendly source of energy
Low Operating Costs
The cost of the uranium, which is utilized as the fuel in this process, is low.
Enormous output of electrical energy
It is continuous. A nuclear power plant can run uninterrupted for even a year. Compared to solar and wind energy which are dependent upon weather conditions, nuclear power plant has no constraints and can run without disruption in any climatic condition.
Uranium is finite meaning that in the future it will run out. Not sustainable It also exists in few countries. It is expensive to mine, refine and transport and can produce a considerable amount of waste during all these activities which can result in environmental contamination and serous health effects, if not handled properly
The waste from nuclear energy is extremely dangerous and it has to be carefully looked after for several thousand years
Expansive to Build
Nuclear plants are very costly to construct and to maintain which is why many countries don't have it
Target for Militants
nuclear energy is used to make weapons. Nuclear power plants are prime target for terrorism activities. In the wrong hands it can be brutal for humankind.
The radioactive waste produced can pose serious health effects on the lives of people as well as the environment.
An example would be the Chernobyl accident that occurred on 26 April 1986 at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine.This was the worst nuclear accident in the history. Many died because of the explosion and fire which released large quantities of radioactive particles into the atmosphere.
Practical Sites for Construction & Use
The element uranium was first discovered in 1789 by Martin Klaproth, a german chemist.
Lise Meitner, Otto Frisch, and Niels Bohr could infer that by bombarding uranium with neutrons, the uranium nuclei would capture one neutron and divide into two fragments, emitting a large amount of energy. They calculated the energy release from this fission as about 200 million electron volts. Frisch then confirmed this figure experimentally in January 1939
The nature of atoms were explored for a long time by many scientists.
The previous development sparked many ideas with scientists trying to discover how to harness nuclear fission.
Over 1939-45, most development was focused on the atomic bomb.
The Discovery of Nuclear Fission
After the atomic bombs, the research took a completely different coarse. Now international technical conferences about the peaceful uses of nuclear energy were organized.
From 1945, attention was given to harnessing this energy in a controlled fashion for making electricity.
In 1956, the British opened the first nuclear power station in the history in Calder Hall, giving rise to a series of reactors known as graphite-gas.
Since 1956 the prime focus has been on the technological evolution of reliable nuclear power plants.
This table shows the theoretical efficiency of converting various energy sources by different methods into useful electrical energy.
Nuclear energy facilities generate electricity 24/7 at a 92 percent capacity factor.
The capacity factor is a measure of operating efficiency which indicates the ability of a generating plant to deliver its full capacity.
It is indirectly an indicator of the reliability of supply.
This is more efficient than other types of energy. For example natural gas, has a 47.8 percent capacity factor; coal-fired at 60.9 percent; and wind at 33.9 percent.
For electricity generation based on steam turbines 65% of all prime energy is wasted as heat. The generating efficiency for nuclear power plants is about 40%.
Future direction/uses for energy source
Current uses of energy source
Uranium is the principal fuel for nuclear energy and it is the main raw material for nuclear weapons. It also produces the fissile material for nuclear weapons.
The major application of uranium in the military sector is in high-density penetrators.
This is a type of ammunition that consists of depleted uranium. Because of its density and hardness it enables the destruction of heavily armored targets.
It also has a relatively low cost which is why it is preferred over other metals.
The generation of electricity from fossil fuels is
a major and growing contributor to the emission of carbon dioxide which contributes to global warming. This is why many believe that in the future there will be an increase in nuclear energy generation of electricity in order to reduce these emissions.
Even though there are challenges such as costs, safety, proliferation of nuclear energy, many nations believe that it is an important and vital option for generating electricity.
Depleted uranium, the same material that the military uses for tank shells and gun turret rounds, may one day be used for super-high density storage in hard drives.
The future direction of uranium, may include more uranium mining and exploration for nuclear energy. Since 1980, global electricity consumption has tripled and is predicted to increase by 70% over the next two decades. Cameco (one of the world’s largest uranium producers) plans to ramp up production by 60% from 21.9 million pounds produced in 2012 to 36 million pounds annually by 2018.
Increase in cost of uranium, currently the cost of uranium is very cheap
Reasons for SUPPORTING nuclear energy
Even though nuclear energy has a lot of bad stigma attached to it, after doing some recherche I learned that none of them are really true.
I support the use of nuclear power because first of all it is a clean energy source. With the drastic impacts that global warming is capable of having and already is having on the environment and us it is vital that we choose a type of energy that does not contribute to this crisis. This does not include fossil fuel which has a very negative impact on the environment.
Secondly it is reliable. Nuclear energy is the most reliable source of energy, It provides electricity continuously and at a constant rate unlike solar power, wind energy and etc.
Thirdly other clean energy sources won't be able to produce enough. With the fast increase in electrical consumption people need to be provided with a base load and stable electricity which helps prevent the frequent power outages that many areas without nuclear energy face.
Nuclear Energy Institute, 2016, N.E.I http://www.nei.org/Master-Document-Folder/Backgrounders/Fact-Sheets/Quick-Facts-Nuclear-Energy-in-America
How Nuclear Power Works, Union of Concerned Scientists, http://www.ucsusa.org/nuclear-power/nuclear-power-technology/how-nuclear-power-works#.Vx1voPkrLIU
Energizing Investments And The Future Of Uranium, 2014, http://www.forbes.com/sites/sap/2014/02/06/energizing-investments-and-the-future-of-uranium/#41ba10d61a70
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2003, http://web.mit.edu/nuclearpower/pdf/nuclearpower-summary.pdf
Advantages and Disadvantages of Nuclear Energy, LoveToKnow Corp. 2016, http://greenliving.lovetoknow.com/Advantages_and_Disadvantages_of_Nuclear_Energy
There are 5 nucllear power plants in all of Canada.
Hydro-Québec Gentilly-2 - Bécancour, QC
NB Power Point Lepreau - Lepreau, NB
OPG Bruce A & B - Tiverton, ON
OPG Darlington - Bowmanville, ON
OPG Pickering A & B - Pickering, ON
All of these power plants are located near water. Nuclear plants are built on the shores of lakes, rivers, and oceans because these bodies of water provide the large quantities of cooling water needed to handle the waste heat discharge.