Nuclear Energy - An Introduction to Nuclear Energy

Nuclear Fission and Nuclear Fusion
Uranium – The Nuclear Fuel
Using Nuclear Energy to Generate Electricity
Nuclear Energy and the Environment

Nuclear energy is the energy that comes from the core or the nucleus of an atom. The bonds which hold the atoms together contain a massive amount of energy. This energy must be released in order to make electricity. This energy can be freed in two ways: nuclear fission and nuclear fusion.

Nuclear Fission and Nuclear Fusion

Nuclear fission works by splitting the atoms apart to produce smaller atoms, and as a result energy is released. Nuclear fission is used in nuclear power plants to generate electricity through the splitting of the nuclei of uranium atoms.

On the other hand, when atoms are joined together to form a larger atom is commonly referred to as nuclear fusion. The sun produces energy through nuclear fusion where the nuclei of hydrogen atoms are fused into helium atoms.

Uranium – The Nuclear Fuel

Uranium is the most common fuel used today by nuclear power plants. Uranium is a common metal discovered in rocks all over the world and it is considered as non-renewable. A certain type of uranium known as U-235 is used in nuclear power plants because its atoms are easily split apart.

Using Nuclear Energy to Generate Electricity

Power plants burn fuel to produce heat to generate electricity, however, nuclear power plants use the heat given off during fission as fuel to turn water into steam. Steam is then used to turn huge turbine blades that drive generators to make electricity.

Nuclear Energy and the Environment

Nuclear energy is cleaner than power plants that use fossil fuel such as coal to generate electricity. Nuclear power plants produce no carbon dioxide and air pollution.

Unfortunately, nuclear power generation has by-product wastes. These by-products are spent fuels, radioactive waste and heat. The primary environmental concerns for nuclear power are spent fuels and radioactive wastes. Most nuclear waste is low-level radioactive waste, while spent fuel assemblies are highly radioactive and must be stored initially in specially designed pools or dry storage containers.

Source: AZoCleantech
Last update 25th March 2008

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