The Power of Nuclear in Modern World

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 The Power of Nuclear

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The most powerful source of energy in propinquity to the earth is the sun. The sun utilizes a form of energy creation known as fusion (Cain). The sun itself is run on nuclear power, and it is the predominant energy producer for the earth (Nuclear Fusion) (The Sun: Earth’s Primary Energy Source). Since this is the case, the people of the earth should take the lead from nature and apply the sun’s form of energy production for their own purposes. In fact, the citizens of the earth do, the only difference is that the energy is produced via fission (How a Nuclear Reactor Works). However, regardless of information which does not support the view, the vast majority of the population of the United States is terrified of the prospect of nuclear power’s implementation as a source of energy; however, this position is horribly misguided and outright invalid. 

        Though many claim fear when the prospect of nuclear power is introduced, most do not even understand the inner workings of the plants. In a nuclear power plant, the energy is manufactured through fission (NEI), which,  is the splitting of an atomic nucleus into two smaller nuclei (Bushberg et al 598). The chemical reaction engenders two nuclei along with gamma radiation and several neutrons (Bushberg et al 598-599). The process is controlled by neutron absorbing control rods. in the reactor core. (Bushberg et al 600). The plant then harnesses the energy created through the nuclear reaction. The fuel, normally uranium-235, is in the form of fuel rods (Bushberg et al 600-601). Water is pumped around these rods, …whereby the heat generated from the fission process is transferred to cooler water in the heat exchanger (Bushberg et al 601). …the heat generated from the fission process produces high pressure steam that is directed through a steam turbine, which powers an electrical generator (Bushberg et al 601). That heat comes from the gamma radiation that accompanies fission (Bushberg et al 599,601). The steam product then undergoes a phase change to return to its liquid form (Bushberg et al 601). That water is reused as the cycle begins anew (Bushberg et al 601). Thus, the means of energy production for a nuclear power plant are straightforward and relatively simple as well as environmentally savvy.

        When compared with other types of energy, such as fossil fuels and even renewable energy, nuclear power proves to be the better option. When it comes to price, the use of nuclear power is up for debate. Reactors are expensive to build but relatively cheap to run (Economics of Nuclear Power). Though prices are not fixed for each nuclear reactor, future reactor project rates in America average to more than $3500 per KW of capacity (Cost of Nuclear Power). These statistics ignore any other incurring expenses that are bound to appear (Cost of Nuclear Power). However, once running, nuclear power plants use a smaller mass of uranium than other power sources utilize their own fuel sources (Economics of Nuclear Power). In fact, One kilogram of natural uranium will yield about 20,000 times as much energy as the same amount of coal (Economics of Nuclear Power). This number can be increased with further study and application of other methods (Economics of Nuclear Power).

 In terms of emissions, nuclear power falls behind most of its competitors. A study done by the World Nuclear Association states that, Greenhouse gas emissions of nuclear power plants are among the lowest of any electricity generation method and on a lifecycle basis are comparable to wind, hydro-electric, and biomass (Comparison of Lifecycle Greenhouse gas Emissions of Various Electricity). The data substantiates this claim. Natural gas has an average of 499 tons of CO2 e/GWh (Comparison of Lifecycle Greenhouse gas Emissions of Various Electricity). Solar energy meanwhile has an average of 85 tons of CO2 e/GWh (Comparison of Lifecycle Greenhouse gas Emissions of Various Electricity). However, nuclear is third lowest with an average of 29 tons of CO2 e/GWh (Comparison of Lifecycle Greenhouse gas Emissions of Various Electricity). This is beaten by hydroelectric and wind with an average emission of 26 tons e/GWh (Comparison of Lifecycle Greenhouse gas Emissions of Various Electricity). Furthermore, nuclear power is proven to have a lower mortality rate when juxtaposed with other energy producing methods. Since 1971 to 2009, NASA concludes that due to nuclear power, over 1.8 million net deaths worldwide, have been saved (Hansen and Kharecha). Therefore, ultimately, nuclear power is far superior to other energy sources in terms of logistics.

        The US population overwhelmingly does not support nuclear power. The authors of the article in Environment clearly hold this view …that the public’s trust in the nuclear industry is low (Lofstedt et al). However, the data collected disproves these sentiments. Nuclear reactors have been in use for roughly 17,000 years (WNA Safety of Nuclear Power). In that period, There have been three major reactor accidents (WNA Safety of Nuclear Power). Those were Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, and Fukushima (WNA Safety of Nuclear Power). In these three accidents, One was contained without harm to anyone, the next involved an intense fire without provision for containment, and the third severely tested the containment, allowing some release of radioactivity (WNA Safety of Nuc Power). Even when considering this, To date, even the Fukushima accident has caused no deaths. (WNA Safety of Nuclear Power). However, since  the public does have concerns, the government has legislated several laws to protect the public and the environment. One of these pieces of legislation is that , The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) specifies that reactor designs must meet a 1 in 10,000 year core damage frequency, but modern designs exceed this (WNA Safety of Nuclear Power).

Engineers have gone above and beyond this since, US utility requirements are 1 in 100,000 years, the best currently operating plants are about 1 in 1 million and those likely to be built in the next decade are almost 1 in 10 million (WNA Safety of Nuclear Power). Still more procedures are in place to safeguard the public. Physically speaking, nuclear reactors contain three layers of precautions  (WNA Safety of Nuclear Power). In the first barrier, The fuel is encased in metal fuel rods that are surrounded by water and enclosed in a sealed, pressurized, approximately 30-cm thick steel reactor vessel (Bushberg et al 602). This alone provides substantial protection from the radiation. Moreover, These components. are enclosed in a large steel-reinforced concrete shell (~1 to 2 m thick)… (Bushberg et al 602). This gives yet another barrier between the environment and the core of the reactor with which to provide the populace with more comfort. Finally, …the water in the reactor acts as a radiation shield. which provides the third means of protection (Bushberg et al 602).

Since nuclear power can be dangerous if handled inconsiderately, accommodation for human error is included in the security details (WNA Safety of Nuclear Power). One of the most fear inspiring notions concerning nuclear reactions occurs when, A malfunction of the coolant (water)… result[s] in the infamous meltdown, which is when the fuel. overheat[s] and melt[s]… (Bushberg et al 600,602). Due to the legitimacy of this concern, engineers have accordingly altered reactors so that, … because of the design characteristics of the reactor and its fuel, an atomic explosion, like those from nuclear weapons, is impossible (Bushberg et al 600). Acknowledging the damage that could be done if a reactor were to have a meltdown, Nuclear power plants are designed with sensors to shut them down automatically in an earthquake (WNA Safety of Nuclear Power). Therefore, the reactors themselves are …self-limiting and would automatically shut down the fission reaction. if circumstances become dangerous to maintaining homeostasis and stability (WNA Safety of Nuclear Power). Thus, advances in nuclear reactors have largely refuted arguments against the supposed jeopardy they pose.     

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 The Power of Nuclear In Modern World. (2019, Nov 18). Retrieved June 26, 2022 , from
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