Archive for the ‘Nuclear Energy’ Category
Nuclear energy can be generated through two processes namely fission and fusion. Fission refers to splitting up of nuclei of atoms while fusion is fusing up nuclei of atoms. Both processes are referred to as nuclear reactions. For the purpose of electricity production fission method is applied on uranium element in a nuclear reactor. Immense heat is produced in the process which is used to heat water into steam. The steam in turn is used to rotate turbines attached to a generator for electricity production.
The nuclear plants may not emit any of the known obnoxious gases like carbon dioxide. However, other activities involved in setting up the nuclear plant and supplying of required raw material emits a high level of this gas. Heavy machinery used in the mining of uranium and its transportation to the nuclear plant requires a huge amount of fossil fuel thus releasing large quantities of carbon dioxide. The resultant waste from the reactors is radio active as well and thus needs to be transported to safe sites.
Among the products of a nuclear reaction in a nuclear plant is radiation. Though precautions are observed to prevent leaks of radiation outside the reactor, a small amount finds its way out into the atmosphere. The deadly emission is associated with high level of cancer incidences to the population leaving near nuclear plants. Genetic mutation resulting from DNA damage is also possible due to a prolonged exposure to radiation. The effect of radiation to marine life, wildlife and atmosphere is a currently a subject of research.
A nuclear process such as fission has a by product referred to as radioactive waste. The waste consists of materials that emit radiation. The material can remain active for years and have to be packed in special casks which are stored in remote isolated sites. The major concern is, with increase of nuclear plants around the world such sites will soon be in short supply. There is an option of burying them deep into the ground but the risk of damage to the casks causing a leak is real. In case of an accident during transportation of such wastes, the results can be disastrous. With an increasing preference of nuclear energy it seems that everyone is stuck with a piling lethal substance.
Accidents in nuclear plants can expose people and the environment to the harmful radiation. Chernobyl and Fukushima disasters in Russia and Japan respectively are proof enough of how precarious nuclear plants are.
Over all safe and cheap energy is the way to go in future but the process of obtaining it should be cautiously arrived at, an example being solar panels for harnessing the energy of the sun. Nuclear energy though clean in many aspects can be subsequently disastrous.