How does Nuclear Energy Affect the Environment?

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Renewable resources have the ability to be replenished in a remarkably short period of time while nonrenewable sources take many years to be recreated. The sun, water, wind, and biomass are common sources of renewable energy. Coal, oil, and natural gas are sources of nonrenewable energy. Another source of energy is nuclear energy. Although nuclear energy itself is a renewable energy source, the material used in nuclear power plants is not. Nuclear energy is the energy in the nucleus of an atom. We can release this energy and use it to make electricity. Nuclear energy is a great example of a renewable source of energy. In this report, we will discuss the uses of nuclear power, how it is generated, and the impact it has on the environment.

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         Nuclear energy has many uses and it has its own way to be generated. We use radiation way more than the average person may realize. The radioactive materials within nuclear energy have many beneficial uses for electricity generation, medicine, our homes, and much more. This energy is one of the answers to the increased use of electricity. Nuclear energy is very commonly used in the medical field. Radiologists are constantly using radiation to diagnose and treat disease. A common household item that contains the use of nuclear energy is the smoke detector. These devices contain tiny amounts of radioactive materials that contribute to making them sensitive to smoke. (Nuclear Energy in Everyday Life). Nuclear energy also has its own way of being generated. The energy is produced by nuclear fusion, nuclear fission, and then a chain reaction. In 100 million degrees Celsius, two prominent forms of hydrogen, (Deuterium and tritium) fuse together. In nuclear fission, energy is released when a uranium nucleus collides with a neutron. The nucleus will then perform fission (break up) and release 2-3 neutrons along with some energy. Next, the chain reaction is produced. The new neutrons will strike other uranium nuclei and produce more neutrons. This chain reaction happens extremely fast and releases heat. This heat is what is used to generate electricity through the nuclear power plant (Exhibit 13 How is Nuclear Energy Generated?).

         Even though nuclear energy comes in very handy for everyday use because of its renewability and simple creation, it happens to bring along some negative traits too. High amounts of carbon dioxide are emitted in activities related to building and running the plants. Uranium happens to releases high amounts of carbon dioxide into the environment. This is inconvenient considering that uranium is the main source of fuel for this reaction to occur. Nuclear power plants also emit low levels of radiation into the environment. Based on various scientific studies, the radiation is causing many people who live close to the area to develop cancer. Damage to one’s DNA can occur if they have long-term exposure to the radiation. More research is being done to determine the degree of damage low levels of radiation cause to wildlife, plants and the ozone layer and other various environmental situations (How Does Nuclear Energy Affect the Environment?).

Cited Works

  1. “Exhibit 13 How is Nuclear Energy Generated?”. https://www.hko.gov.hk/education/cyber_exh_hall/eng/exhibit13_intro_eng.htm.
  2. “How Does Nuclear Energy Affect the Environment?”. https://sciencing.com/nuclear-energy-affect-environment-4566966.html
  3. “Nuclear Energy in Everyday Life”. https://www.energy.gov.za/files/media/Pub/NuclearEnergyInEverydayLife_Booklet.pdf. 
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How Does Nuclear Energy Affect The Environment?. (2019, Jul 31). Retrieved November 30, 2022 , from
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