Nuclear Energy

What is Nuclear Energy?

Nuclear energy is the energy that is produced with the nucleus of atoms. Electricity can be made from the production of nuclear energy. Nuclear energy is acquired in two ways with either nuclear fission or nuclear fusion.

Example of a nuclear power plant

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Nuclear Fission vs. Nuclear Fusion

Nuclear fission is the process of splitting a larger Uranium atom into smaller, and then even smaller atoms which releases energy. Nuclear fission is the process used by nuclear power plants. Nuclear Fusion is when atoms combine and form a larger atom which produces energy this process is what the Sun uses to produce energy.

The Process of Making Nuclear Energy/Power

Nuclear power is generated through nuclear fission, where heat is produced. The heat is used to heat water which then produces steam. The steam is used to spin large turbines which powers a generator, the a transformer, then a meter and it then powers a electricity grid. Excess water is cooled and then reused again in the process of making nuclear power.
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Where is nuclear power generated?

Approximately, 12% of the worlds population is generated from nuclear power. There is around 430 Nuclear reactors in 31 countries with a potential of over 200 more being built. Some countries that use nuclear power are USA, Canada, France, Bulgaria, Slovakia and others. Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Hungary, Japan, South Korea, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland and Ukraine generate more than 30% of their power from nuclear reactors. USA generates about 20% of their power from nuclear reactors and France generates about 75%. Canada generates about 15% from 19 reactors mainly in southern Ontario.

Power generated by nuclear reactors in 31 countries

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Nuclear affect on the environment

Nuclear energy can be considered safe and is managed by the government. However there are still environmental impacts due to nuclear reactors. One major factor is the affect on water bodies. Nuclear power plants use water to run their rectors so they take water from near by lakes and rivers. In turn affecting the water levels and aquatic life. Another thing is nuclear power plants use water bodies as discharge for excess waste (heavy metals and salts) which can be harmful for aquatic life. Another factor affecting the environment is the storage of nuclear waste. Although, waste is properly stored there is still a potential for being over filled or a leak of radioactive waste. Finally, nuclear power can have an affect even away from the plant. Air emissions can affect air quality when uranium is either mined or transported.

Nuclear affect on space

Nuclear power does not directly affect space. However, there is a potential for nuclear reactors in space. There has already been reactors lunched into space due to the radium isotopes available. A permanent reactor is still a possibility which would limit the affects that nuclear plants would have on the environment as well as make a potential for most of the worlds energy to be from a renewable energy source.

Chemical used in nuclear power

Uranium is the fuel to the fire of nuclear power. Specifically, U-235, however this type of uranium makes up less than 1% of the worlds uranium. This uranium is converted into uranium pellets which are used to fuel the reactors. Plutonium is also used in the process of nuclear energy. The main make up of plutonium used is Pu-239 which is derived from U-238. Most of the plutonium as burned and converted to heat.