Nuclear Energy

Did you know that nuclear energy uses the turbine system? A lot of people hear the word nuclear and begin to panic right away, and this is unfortunate because nuclear energy is quite remarkable and effective.

Here's how it works (in a very brief summary): A nuclear facility is designed to have the ability to split uranium atoms. This is called "fission". When fission occurs, it creates an enormous amount of energy and transfers this into water surrounding the fission tanks.

This energy quickly vaporizes the water, making steam that is captured by the turbines. As these turbines encounter that steam, they are forced to spin quickly and create a huge amount of energy.

How much? Currently, the United States gets almost 20 percent of its energy supplies from nuclear plants. This leads many to wonder if the energy is risky or harmful. The answer is a definitive no. The real issue with nuclear energy is not in its use, but in the way the supplies are handled.

Nuclear Energy
For example, all of the nuclear power plants do not send carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxides, or sulfur dioxides into the air in the same way that coal or other energy sources do. They do, however, use up a lot of water from the surrounding environment, which means they negatively impact the lives of the plants and animals that inhabit them.

The plants also discharge water, and though this water is not polluted with any radioactive materials, it has been super heated and contaminated in other ways. The discharging of this water tends to also be a problem for the environment.

So, that means that the water is a problem where nuclear resources are concerned, but then there is also the uranium to consider. Remember that the fission process is used to release energy and create steam. What happens to that radioactive uranium after it has given up most of the energy? It is now a form of radioactive waste that has to be kept in a safe status for thousands of years afterward.

In the United States, a nuclear facility must shut down to replace uranium supplies every two years. They must then retain the uranium in a safe manner to prevent radiation from leaking into the environment. In 2012, it is anticipated that the national radioactive dumpsite being developed in Yucca Mountain will be complete and at that time the many thousands of tons of radioactive waste will be stored there for the millennia to come.

Nuclear energy by definition is something that controlled by nuclear reactions. This type of energy is generally used by commercial plants and utility plants that use fission reactions.

These nuclear fission reactions are used to heat water which is used to make steam and this steam in turn is used for generating the world’s greatest need – electricity. As of last year more than 12% of electricity came from this energy. Where did this type of energy come from? How did it originate?

The search for this energy started soon after the discovery of radioactive elements which began in the beginning of the 20th century. Initially this energy had a lot of problems to harness and it was also considered impractical. It is more difficult because of lack of electric charge in those days however a brilliant man named James Chadwick discovered the first neuron. His theories were not accepted at first by nuclear physics but soon his theories were proven and accepted.

Nuclear chain reactions can be easily controlled effective if neutron poisons are used with the help of neutron moderators. But the portion needs to be changed to cause more fissions. They do have automatic and manual systems for shutting the fission reactions. Next a cooling system is used to remove the heat from the core of the reactor from the nuclear power plant which is then sent to another area of the plant. Here the thermal power is harnessed. This activity produces heat and electricity for other useful work.

This hot coolant from the power plant needs to harness properly for the entire process to be successful. There is not only one type of reactor designs but many more. These reactor designs utilize different types of fuels and coolants together to gather all the control schemes.

One very important drawback of this great invention is the high level of radioactive waste which contributes greatly to pollute the environment and if released in air it can cause genetic disorders for people. As we have already seen the case in Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan. The results of the explosions are still seen in the inhabitants and the future generations of Japan. This energy although is useful in some areas but in others it can take lives and cause permanent damage. It has to be used for the right reasons and that too carefully.

Learn more about nuclear energy:

Advantages of Nuclear Power

Return to "Going Green" from "Nuclear Energy".

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