Nuclear energy is the energy that is present in the core of an atom. Here an atom is a small particle that constitutes every matter in the universe. Generally, the mass of an atom is concentrated at the centre of the nucleus. Neutrons and Protons are the two subatomic particles that are with the nucleus. There is a massive amount of energy in bonds that bind atoms together.
Introduction to Nuclear Energy
Nuclear Energy is released by nuclear reactions. This reaction can be either by fission or fusion. In a nuclear fusion, reaction atoms combine together to form a larger atom. In nuclear fission, the atoms divide to form smaller atoms by releasing energy. Nuclear power plants give energy using nuclear fission. The release or absorption of nuclear energy occurs usually in nuclear reactions or radioactive decay.
It should be noted that those that absorb energy are endothermic reactions and those that release energy are exothermic reactions. Energy is consumed or liberated in a reaction is because of differences in the nuclear binding energy. This energy is present between the incoming and outgoing products of the nuclear transmutation.
The known classes of exothermic nuclear transmutations are fission and fusion. Nuclear energy can be liberated by atomic fission when heavy atomic nuclei such as uranium and plutonium are broken apart into lighter nuclei. The energy from fission is in use to produce electric power in hundreds of locations worldwide. Nuclear energy also releases during atomic fusion.
When light nuclei, for instance, hydrogen are combined to form heavier nuclei like helium. The Sun and other stars use nuclear fusion to produce thermal energy. This energy is radiated from the surface. It is a type of stellar nucleosynthesis. In any exothermic nuclear process, nuclear mass is be converted to thermal energy that given off as heat.
Applications of Nuclear Energy
- Nuclear technology
- Nuclear medicine
- Agricultural uses of nuclear technology
- Nuclear Technology is useful in Industries
- Environmental uses of nuclear technology
- Biological Experimentations
- Medical diagnosis and treatments
- Scientific Investigations
- Engineering Projects
- Neutron Activation Analysis
Benefits of Nuclear Energy
Nuclear energy gives many benefits as the emissions-free workhorse of our energy grid. The unique value of nuclear energy cannot be found in any other source of energy.
1) Nuclear protects national security. U.S. leadership in nuclear energy maintains safety and non-proliferation standards globally. It supports a resilient electrical grid at home and fuels a strong navy.
2) Nuclear fights climate change. Nuclear energy gives large amounts of 24/7 carbon-free electricity. This energy is irreplaceable in protecting the environment.
3) Nuclear ensures U.S. leadership in technology. The United States initiated nuclear energy for the world. The United States continued leadership and can respond to growing clean energy demand worldwide with advanced reactors.
4) Nuclear produces electricity reliably. Around-the-clock electricity is a must for our nation to prosper nuclear energy in the 21st century. Clean and reliable nuclear energy is a major part of U.S. infrastructure as if it runs nonstop for 18 months to 24 months at a time.
5) Nuclear generates jobs. Nuclear energy provides more than 100,000 well-paid, long-term jobs(employment). It supports local economies with millions of dollars in state and local tax revenues.
6) Also, nuclear protects our air. Nitrogen oxide, sulfur dioxide, particulate matter and mercury, all these chemicals are the one that should not be in the air we breathe. Nuclear energy provides power 24/7 without a trace of these pollutants.
7) Nuclear boosts international development. Also, nuclear energy helps developing nations to meet the goals of sustainable development.
8) Nuclear powers electric vehicles. Electrified transportation states to reduce carbon emissions. Electric vehicles are powered by carbon-free nuclear energy, electric vehicles can reach their full potential. These electric vehicles do not harm the environment much.
9) The benefits of nuclear energy go far beyond carbon-free electricity too. Nuclear powers space exploration sterilizes medical equipment, gives potable water through desalination and also supplies radioisotopes for cancer treatment and much more.
Disadvantages of Nuclear Energy
- Nuclear is a bad match for renewables.
Renewables work best when twinned with flexible technologies. It is only when they can pick up the strain at key times, such as cold, nights. Thou, Nuclear power stations are highly inflexible as if they are very difficult to turn up or down. That’s why these stations are a poor match for a grid that has lots of renewables.
- Building nuclear power stations are very expensive.
New nuclear power is more expensive than onshore wind and other large-scale solar stations. Thou, nuclear is getting more expensive day by day.
- There are huge costs beyond simply constructing nuclear power stations.
Decommissioning a nuclear plant and disposing of its waste is complex, hazardous, and expensive.
- Nuclear power stations take a lot of time in planning and building.
The construction of a nuclear power station and its approval takes in the region of 10 to 20 years. Things go to plan and as they are so complex, projects often suffer lengthy delays. Other technologies can be built much faster than nuclear power stations.
- Nuclear power makes us reliant on a small number of sites.
All power stations sometimes experience outages. Because nuclear power stations generate a huge amount of electricity, if a nuclear power station goes offline it puts huge pressure on the grid.
- Nuclear benefits the few, not the many.
The level of expertise and capital is required to make a nuclear power station. This means very few are capable of building it.
- Nuclear radiation accidents
The radioactive wastes coming from stations are harmful to nature and humans.
FAQs on Nuclear Energy
Question 1: What is nuclear energy in simple words?
Answer: It is the energy that is present in an atom’s nucleus. Atoms are small units of the universe that make up all matter, and energy is the one that binds together the nucleus. The dense nucleus present in the atom is an immense quantity of energy.
Question 2: What is nuclear used for?
Answer: Many industries, including food and agriculture, industry, consumer goods, medicine and science research, transport and water supplies and the atmosphere, have important uses for radioisotopes, nuclear power heat processing and non-stationary power reactors.
Question 3: Does nuclear energy harm the environment?
Answer: As a fuel, nuclear power plants use uranium. The operation of uranium mining emits high levels of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Thus, when new nuclear power stations are built, carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere. The transport of hazardous waste often produces pollution because of carbon dioxide and maybe other gases.
Question 4: What happens during nuclear fission in a nuclear plant?
A particular form of uranium that is uranium-235 is most commonly in use for energy production. The nucleus of uranium splits easily when it is bombarded by a neutron. Here’s what happens during a nuclear fission reaction:
- The nucleus of a uranium atom is bombarded by a neutron. As a result, the nucleus split into two atoms.
- At the same time when it splits, energy is released as heat and radiation.
- As a result of the fission reaction, more neutrons are released
- These neutrons then start bombarding other uranium atoms goes on. This process keeps repeating itself. This reaction is a chain reaction.