Nuclear Energy: History, Advantages And Disadvantages, Risks And Applications
Nuclear power is first introduced by nuclear energy of which comes from the splitting of atoms in a reactor, to heat water to steam, which then turns a turbine which then generates electricity. (EIA, 2018)In a nuclear reactor, neutrons particles which are neutrally charged collide with atoms, causing them to split. This is called nuclear fission; each reaction causes the releases of more neutrons. that react with more atoms, creating a chain reaction. A by-product from the fission reaction is a very dangerous long life highly radioactive waste product called plutonium, which can also be used as a fuel for nuclear weapons. (NEI, n.d.)
There are around 450 nuclear reactors that produce 11% of the world’s electricity. The main countries generating most of the world’s nuclear energy are France, China, Russia, South Korea and The United States. The most common fuel for Nuclear power is Uranium, this metal is found throughout the world. Australia is the biggest mass supplier of the world’s uranium transporting around 10, 000 tonnes of uranium from 3 fully functional uranium mines. (Baker, 2009) Mined Uranium is into U-235, which is a more enhanced version which is more suitable use in the nuclear reactor. This process is called enrichment where they enrich isotope U-237 with around 5% of U-235 to allow fission to occur (U-237 doesn’t easily fission). (Nunez, 2019)
Nuclear Powers history:
Nuclear power began in the 1930s, when physicist Enrico Fermi, first had shown how neutrons can used to split atoms. Fermi led the first team in 1942 that achieved a successful nuclear chain reaction, under a stadium on campus of the University of Chicago. After a long series of milestones arose, in the 1950s the first electricity produced from atomic energy from Idaho’s experimental breeder ‘Reactor I” in 1951 the first nuclear power plant was based in the town of Obninsk in the former soviet union in 1954; the first commercial nuclear power plant in Shippingport, Pennsylvania in 1957. (Nunez, 2019)
Nuclear Power risks and debates:
The argument against nuclear power, being a major point of the problem is that long-living nuclear waste and the devastation of nuclear accidents such as Chernobyl in 1986 and Fukushima Daiichi in 2011. In the case of the Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi, the aftermath of the Tohoku Earthquake & Tsunami, caused the power plants catastrophic malfunction. Several years later, evacuees are still too afraid to return from the nuclear pollutants still roaming. The deadly Chernobyl disaster in Ukraine happened due to the design and human error causing the reactor to have a power surge, causing it to explode. Large amounts of radiation were released into the air, and hundreds of thousands of people were forced from their houses, now a ghost town Chernobyl in inhabited by primarily wildlife species, with some lone inhabitants that never had left. Long-living waste comes in 4 categories High, Intermediate, Low, Very Low level Waste, which is ranked from High to Very Low radioactivity with the waste and what precautions need to be taken when in the disposal process as, it can impact anything surrounding fast if exposed. (UK Radioactive Waste Inventory, 2016) Global waste management is of great debate as few countries are able to withhold amounts of nuclear waste as they’re geologically stable and have excessive remoteness Australia being the top as it have large amounts of space and being the largest supplier of uranium in the world. (World Nuclear Association, 2018) (Baker, 2009) Most countries do not have long term solution for nuclear waste as they, don’t have the stability and space as what few countries have and aren’t going to risk the communities and lives of thousand and million, due to what could be a potential accident from overloading nuclear waste to which, can cause mass fatalities and loss civilisation from forced evacuation, which could be a detriment to the global as it’s a loss of the global eco-system, which impacts the globe which could speed the process of global-warming. (World Nuclear Association, 2018) 2016 in Australia there was protests against the government as they tried to make “sacred land” in the Flinders Ranges a Nuclear Waste dump, of which generations of families had lived and still present in the flinders which is home for over 50,000 indigenous Australians and the custodians to the flinders defended the land as its “sacred land” to which had ancestral connection. As it can create 15 to 20 permanent jobs, it could also leave hundreds homeless as the radiations level can be lethal. As the debate goes as it can benefit society and create jobs and expand our mining of uranium in Australia, it also destroys generations of history and family’s family connection of which generations have lived in the same place for centuries. (Large, 2016)
Nuclear has come along way since its past catastrophes, Nuclear radiation accidents are still major impacts on the environment and to what use to be communities but were forced of evacuation as the effect of the accidents still linger around, Chernobyl had taken 30,000 lives, along 2.5 million people across Ukraine are still having health tribulations linking to the nuclear waste left from the Chernobyl catastrophe. Radioactive waste is highly lethal if in contact with the environment and humans as its of nuclear substances, if not disposed of correctly, can left of radiation which will impact surrounding areas decay or surrounding life-form will die. Eutrophication can be altered in in touch with radioactive waste, as it’ll dense the growth of water bodies, which can lead to death of aquatic life. The impact it can have on humans is of great importance as it can embed in persons. That have been exposed in the past and lead to the birthing of children with defects, along with life-long health problems. The availability to obtain uranium to fuel power plants is scarce and limited to few countries whilst fossil fuels can be obtained globally. (Rinkesh, Conserve Energy Future, n.d.)
Nuclear power is far more superior than any other energy source. It’s the cleanest and most efficient energy source. (Eisenhower, n.d.)Nuclear Energy has the power to generate far into the future and has the capabilities to advance technology and the power industry. Not only making power more affordable the continuation of building the nuclear power industry will generate many jobs and can be beneficial to society. Nuclear power is an eco-friendly alternative to fossil fuels, and it doesn’t emit greenhouse gases. Even though the cost of building the nuclear power industry is quite expensive the production of power substantially cheaper than fossil fuel power. The biggest advantages for Nuclear power are that is renewable it has unlimited availability. The newly introduce nuclear power plants are much safer, as they’ve evolved from past weaknesses in the plants and now use water fed by gravity, gas pressurized water tanks, and natural convection heat exchangers, which they formally used external water and electricity supplies, these are called “Passive safety systems” another advantages is that new power plants can be installed underground to eliminate unauthorized access and external hazards, along with natural insulation. (Rinkesh, n.d.) Nuclear power doesn’t contribute to global warming, as it doesn’t overload our atmosphere with carbon dioxide of which is mass produce when using fossil fuels. (Union of Concerned Scientist, 2017)
Physics of Nuclear Power:
Neutrons moving are the first part for a functioning nuclear reactor. When neutrons pass a heavy nucleus, such as U-235 (uranium-235), neutrons can be caught in the process, which gives possibility for nuclear fission to occur. The neutrons caught add to the uranium nucleus to form a new nucleus. Which can look like this U-238 + n U-239, which represents the making of the nucleus U-239.In occurrences when neutrons get caught fission happens.
Nuclear fission happens in any heavy nuclei after neutrons are caught. Thermal neutrons are able to cause fission only in isotopes in uranium and plutonium whose nuclei consist of an odd number of neutrons ( U-235, and Pu-239).
Thermal fission can also happen in other elements which the nuclei contains an odd number of neutrons. For nuclei with an even number of neutrons, fission can only occur if the neutrons have enough energy ranging from 1,000,000+ electron volts (MeV).
The primary use for uranium fission is in thermal reactors fuelled by U-235, implementing water flow can slow neutrons down as the neutrons thermal movement is random so if they are slowed, they can be brought to thermal equilibrium. A common example of this is light water reactors.
Some heavy nuclei that are fissile are U-233, Pu-239 and Pu-241, which each of these are produced in a nuclear reactor. U-235 is the only natural isotope, which is fissile, and is found in natural uranium at a concentration of 0.7. U-238 is one of the main natural occurring fertile isotopes. (World Nuclear, 2018)
Nuclear fission is the slitting of a uranium atom which has collided with a neutron, this gives off a large amount of energy in the form of radiation and heat. This process happens multiple times with other split uranium atoms and neutron which is called a Nuclear chain reaction, this reaction is controlled in power plants to produce large amounts of heat which can turned in energy, which is then transferred into power. (EIA, 2018) (How Stuff Works, n.d.)
Applications and Development of Nuclear Power:
Nuclear energy has multiple uses, it can used for seawater desalination, hydrogen production, district heating or cooling, the extraction of tertiary oil resources and process heating such as cogeneration, coal to liquids conversion and the synthesis of chemical feedstock, biggest being in the power industry with the frequent and fast production of electricity. There’s a huge necessity for nuclear energy in the industry, which is expected to grow rapidly, whilst it steadily increases energy consumption, the unlimited availability of fossil fuels and the environmental impacts of fossil fuel combustion. The increasing prices for conventional oil, unconventional oil resources are frequently used to meet growth needs, along with transport also. Nuclear energy is a low carbon emitting alternative and has advantages over other sources being considered for future energy. (Alexandre, 2017) The development of Nuclear Power has come with the pin-pointing of weakness of which cause previous accidents and advancing them along with improving the safety mechanisms and changed the way the reactor functions. (Rinkesh, n.d.) (World Nuclear Association, 2019)