Kw-logo-smaller

Nuclear Energy In A Nutshell

Besides the fact that Nuclear Power Plants can make a little fish grow a 3rd eyeball… what else do you know about nuclear energy? If you haven’t heard about the energy crisis, the world is desperate for energy and nuclear energy is a major solution… or is it? Many people think that the power generated by nuclear power plants is worse for the environment in the long run. You might want to learn more about nuclear energy to help make decisions of what is a good source of energy for our future.

What is Nuclear Energy?

Nuclear energy is energy in the nucleus (core) of an atom. Atoms are tiny particles that make up every object in the universe. There is enormous energy in the bonds that hold atoms together. Nuclear energy can be used to make electricity. But first the energy must be released. It can be released from atoms in two ways: nuclear fusion and nuclear fission.

Isotope Interest
Isotope Interest

In nuclear fusion, energy is released when atoms are combined or fused together to form a larger atom. This is how the sun produces energy.

In nuclear fission, atoms are split apart to form smaller atoms, releasing energy. Nuclear power plants use nuclear fission to produce electricity.

Nuclear power plants

Most power plants burn fuel to produce electricity, but not nuclear power plants. Instead, nuclear plants use the heat given off during fission as fuel. Fission takes place inside the reactor of a nuclear power plant. At the center of the reactor is the core, which contains uranium fuel.

Radioactive Rods
Radioactive Rods

The uranium fuel is formed into ceramic pellets. The pellets are about the size of your fingertip, but each one produces the same amount of energy as 150 gallons of oil. These energy-rich pellets are stacked end-to-end in 12-foot metal fuel rods, which you might have seen Homer Simpson carrying at the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant.

Fission generates heat in a reactor just as coal generates heat in a boiler. The heat is used to boil water into steam. The steam turns huge turbine blades, As they turn they drive generators that make electricity. Afterward, the steam is changed back into water through a condenser and this water is used again and again. The steam is cooled using lake or river water flowing through tubes in the condenser. Because this water is heated (removes heat from the steam), this lake or river water can be cooled in a separate structure at the power plant called a cooling tower and then be returned to the lake or river.

Nuclear power and the environment

Tuna Trio
Tuna Trio

Like all industrial processes, nuclear power generation has by-product wastes: radioactive waste and heat. Radioactive wastes are the principal environmental concern for nuclear power. They are ordinary trash, tools, protective clothing, wiping cloths and disposable items that have been contaminated with small amounts of radioactive dust or particles. Safety inspectors make sure that these items never come in contact with the outside environment.

But what happens when there is a natural disaster like the earthquake in Japan? Sometimes the plant leaks these radioactive wastes into the environment because damage. Then what? The surrounding water is polluted, plants will die, animals can grow 3 eyeballs... it's not good.

Related Stories
>
>

readers voted!

Comments

TheDoktor

TheDoktor wrote:

Go ahead, don't even mention the wonders of thorium and all of its potential.
commented: Sat Jan 05, 2013

jiexin

jiexin wrote:

Excellent explanation on nuclear energy! Marie Curie would be proud!
commented: Sun Apr 29, 2012

magsrock1023

magsrock1023 wrote:

well nuclear energi is bad when you grow a third eye but other wise its ok
commented: Sat Feb 04, 2012

there are 14 more comments

Please login or register to add comments

share with your friends


Twitter Facebook Myspace Digg


like this article?
get more just like it in your email

F1109195713421

What is the Cleanest Burning Fossil Fuel?

  • Coal.
  • Oil.
  • Natural Gas.
  • They all create the same amount of pollution.

related stories

If your parents have been stressing over money and you feel anxious because of the environment, w...
Micro_geothermal_micro
If you kept digging, what would you find? Probably lots of worms, roots, and a few dog bones. But...
Micro_hydroelectricity-micro
It's hard to imagine that water can be used to create electricity. The two are a dangerous combin...

latest videos

Random in the forums

Crisanna
Crisanna posted in Debating:
uhm, i have no idea how many kids im gonna have . . . but if i have a girl i might name her Alana. that's kinda the only name i got. other than that, i'll figure it out when i get there
reply 5 minutes
Ange_16ner
Ange_16ner posted in Debating:
I want my daughter to be called: Alena, Elizabeth, Annabelle son: Jeremiah, Alfred (Alfie) twins: (boy/girl) Philip and Lillian (Phil & Lil!) idk for girl/girl boy/boy though <3
reply 12 minutes
Team Audi #46
You beat Super Metroid. Brother tried that. Got a few months until he lost everything. Yep. Hasn't tried again since.  I would be the same way. Problem is the main game I am nerd about is a racing sim. :p Really hard to beat that game in a day. Or do much in a day. I would however do that for other games if I had the information on them. And the means to actually get to the system at the correct time considering the systems are in my brothers room. 
reply 34 minutes
Thundertoronto
10
reply 38 minutes
Thundertoronto
I tolerate.
reply 39 minutes

play online games

Candy-100

A great online version of the famous Candy Crush. This is the best game launched...

1515_gl_kidzworld_100x100_jpg_fz

Intriguing planets, weird and wonderful characters; challenge friends and find a...

100x100_ra_logo_girl

Uncle George has left you his farm, but unfortunately it’s in pretty bad shape. ...

_thumb_100x100

Shoot blobs with different properies to merge yellow blobs. Your blobs can be re...

_thumb_100x100

We have all played the famous game Sudoku, now play it online with this Classic ...