Where does the energy come from? Nuclear fission The nucleus is the centre of the atom which is normally made up of the same number of protons as it has neutrons. However, some very large nuclei in certain isotopes have an imbalance. They can often be found with too many neutrons, and this imbalance will result in the nucleus becoming unstable. Uranium is a radioactive substance which due to its large size and unstable state can undergo induced fission.
Its nucleus can be split into smaller atoms when induced by a neutron. This process will release two or three neutrons, depending on how the atom splits. These new neutrons can then initiate the decomposition of the nuclei of other atoms of Uranium.
Propagation by the chain reaction releases more neutrons and causes further nuclear splits. Under controlled conditions, the rate of this chain reaction can be kept at a constant rate. This produces high temperatures but is not allowed to react out of control as in a nuclear bomb.
The heat produced is used to turn water into steam, the steam then turns a turbine and generator, creating electricity. Therefore it is necessary to enrich natural Uranium to use for nuclear power. This is done by converting uranium oxide extracted from ore into gaseous form, uranium hexafluoride. From this form it can be enriched from its natural proportion of 0. A higher enrichment means better efficiency, and ordinary water can then be used as a moderator.
The form of uranium usually used is pellet form, these are arranged into rods and then to bundles. These bundles are surrounded by a moderator such as water, graphite or heavy water.
The moderator slows down the emitted neutrons by reducing their energy as they collide with the nuclei of the moderator. Control rods are placed in the bundles which control the rate of the nuclear reaction. These can also be used to shut down the reactor completely when something goes wrong.
These control rods are materials which absorb neutrons, such as Cadmium and Boron. They work by reducing the number of neutrons in the reactor and therefore slowing down the reaction and consequently reducing the heat. To reduce heat, the rods are put further into the bundles where they absorb more neutrons.
To raise the heat the opposite is done, and the heat level rises. As the atoms are split the energy is released as heat.
This is used to heat water and turns it into steam. The steam drives a steam turbine, which spins a generator to produce electricity. This is what happens in a basic reactor, others include the use of intermediate heat exchangers or gaseous coolant fluid. The set up of a nuclear power plant is basically the same as that of a coal power plant.
The main difference is how the water is heated to produce steam, from then on the turbines and generator work in the same way for both plants. In solid fuel, particles can only move a very short distance. Atomic or nuclear power is obtained by altering the structure of atoms. When such an alteration is made, much energy is released in the form of heat and this is used to generate electric power. For obtaining atomic power, nuclear fission is required, which takes place in a nuclear reactor containing a heat-producing core and a cooling system.
Within the core, atoms of the fuel, usually uranium, enriched uranium or plutonium, are split. The heat released by the reactor is used to generate steam and the steam is used to generate electricity. The first nuclear power station was built in Britain in at Calder Hall. In comparison to other traditional fossil fuels as energy sources, nuclear power produces enormous amount of energy. No other source of energy can produce such amount of power from a very small quantity of material.
Nuclear energy is much more environmentally friendly and humanly safe than fossil fuels. It also provides us with the energy security we need; thus, it should be adopted as the future power supplier in all countries. Environmental safety is one of the major reasons why scientists are reverting to sources other than fossil fuels and developing nuclear technology that would reduce the amounts of all the gaseous, solid and liquid wastes produced by fossil fueled plants.
Those wastes are resulting in serious environmental crises. Unlike the fossil fuels, nuclear fuel is smoke free; thus, protecting the environment from the serious implications of the gaseous residuals like Carbon Dioxide CO2 , Sulfur dioxide SO2 and nitrogen oxides that are major contributors to global warming, acidic rain and smog, respectively.
Global warming causes the melting of huge ice fields such as the ones covering Greenland and Antarctic, consequently inundating so many coastal areas with water Morris, With the acidic rain, ecological problems will arise, manifested in the destruction of trees and death of fish Morris, On the other hand, apart from the gaseous waste, there exists the solid and liquid waste of fossil fueled plants in the form of ashes from coal plants and crude oil waste from oil plants.
Just like the solid waste, liquid waste of oil plants could also be spilled into the ocean while being moved from one area to another for disposal, resulting in the termination of aquatic life Morris, Such incidents are unbearable, yet they happen. However, nuclear plants have no gaseous waste.
As to the solid wastes, scientists have developed an efficient way to dispose safely of them. It is proposed that the radioactive waste should be mixed with molten glass then cooled to be part of solid, corrosion-proof glass; thus, blocking its radioactivity Morris, While the fossil fuels waste would continuously pose a threat the environment and to human health.
Those fossil fuels do not only harm the environment, but also violate human safety, by producing pollutants that cause serious diseases. All of which have been linked to serious neuromuscular and respiratory diseases, like bronchitis and lung-cancer. On the other hand nuclear energy is free of all those pollutants.
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