Using Nuclear Power to Generate Electricity Research Paper

Total Length: 1022 words ( 3 double-spaced pages)

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Nuclear Energy


Nuclear energy is an energy source that has zero emissions, propels our society into the future, and provides electricity around-the-clock. Nuclear energy comes from the splitting of atoms inside a reactor through a process known as fission to heat water into steam, turn a turbine, and generate electricity. Atoms are tiny particles that make up every object in the universe. These atoms have enormous energy in the bonds that hold them together. Nuclear fission will split the atoms into smaller atoms, in essence, releasing energy. Nuclear power plants make use of nuclear fission for the production of electricity. Nuclear energy is considered to be environmentally safe because it causes zero emissions and this is beneficial to the environment as it reduces the carbon footprint (Brook & Bradshaw, 2015). However, nuclear power plants do produce radioactive nuclear waste that must be stored safely to ensure there is no leakage. Nuclear energy was first developed in the 1940s and during WWII research was mainly focused on the production of bombs. Attention turned to the peaceful use of nuclear fission in order to control it for power generation in the 1950s.

Out of all the ways that the planet is powered, nuclear energy is the most divisive. The first nuclear power plant came online in 1954 in the USSR and this was closely followed by the first nuclear power plant in the US three years later. In the 1970s there was strong opposition to the use of nuclear power and the reactor meltdown in 1979 of Three Mile Island and later Chernobyl in 1986 resulted in a halt in the construction of new power plants worldwide.

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Currently, the number of nuclear power plants have been on the rise and many governments are grappling with how to manage the energy security of their country and at the same time reducing air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.

Nuclear Power Technology

According to Brook and Bradshaw (2015) generating electricity using nuclear reactors is similar to the way electricity is generated using coal-fired power plants but somehow more complicated. Nuclear reactions produce energy from uranium fuel. The uranium ore is first mined and then enriched in order to increase the amount of isotope uranium, which is able to sustain a nuclear chain reaction. The pellets of enriched uranium are placed in rows to form fuel rods and placed in the reactor. Firing a neutron into a uranium nucleus will result in the neutron splitting, ejecting neutrons into other uranium atoms, which creates a chain reaction. A huge amount of energy and radiation is released when these atoms are split. The heat generated is used to turn water into steam, which in turn is used to turn a turbine that cranks an electrical generator. A majority of the reactors we have worldwide are light water reactors. This means that water is used to cool and moderate the speed….....

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Brook, B. W., & Bradshaw, C. J. (2015). Key role for nuclear energy in global biodiversity conservation. Conservation Biology, 29(3), 702-712.

Selimbegovi?, L., Chatard, A., Er-Rafiy, A., & Pyszczynski, T. (2016). Nuclear accident reminders and support for nuclear energy: Paradoxical effect. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 48, 87-100.

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