How this new energy source was discovered and generated.
Meet the scientist
Hi! My name is Vanessa Nowak and I have been studying nuclear fuel with my partner for about five years at our lab- Nowak Discovery. We discovered that when an atom splits, it releases a significant amount of energy.
Fission VS. Fusion
Nuclear fission is either a nuclear reaction or a radioactive decay process in which the nucleus of an atom splits into smaller parts. The fission process often produces free neutrons and gamma photons, and releases a very large amount of energy even by the energetic standards of radioactive decay. Nuclear fusion is the opposite. Nuclear fusion is a nuclear reaction in which two or more atomic nuclei come very close and then collide at a very high speed and join to form a new nucleus. The mass of this new nucleus is slightly less than the sum of its constituents, by an amount known as the "binding energy". This is because the compound nucleus is a lower-energy system than the two parent nuclei. The binding energy is released as photons (energy). This is the energy that is given off by a fusion process. Fusion is the process that powers active or "main sequence" stars, or other high magnitude stars.
Many believe that nuclear power poses many threats to people and the environment. These threats include the problems of processing, transport and storage of radioactive nuclear waste, the risk of nuclear weapons proliferation and terrorism, as well as heath risks and environmental damage fro uranium mining. They also contend that reactors themselves are enormously complex machines where many things can go wrong, and there have been serious nuclear accidents. Critic do not believe that the risks of using nuclear fission as a power source can be offset through the development of new technology. They also argue that when all the energy-intensive stages of the nuclear fuel chain are considered from uranium mining to nuclear decommissioning, nuclear power is not a low-carbon electricity source.
- Nuclear power is cost competitive with other forms of electricity generation, except where there is direct access to low-cost fossil fuels.
- Fuel costs for nuclear plants are a minor proportion of total generating costs, though capital costs are greater than those for coal-fired plants and much greater than those for gas-fired plants.
- Providing incentives for long-term, high-capital investment in deregulated markets driven by short-term price signals presents a challenge in securing a diversified and reliable electricity supply system.
- In assessing the economics of nuclear power, decommissioning and waste disposal costs are fully taken into account.
- Nuclear power plant construction is typical of large infrastructure projects around the world, whose costs and delivery challenges tend to be under-estimated.