Thesis: Nuclear power is a good idea because it costs less, does not pollute as much as much as other powers, and less fuel gives more energy.
Less fuel gives more energy (1) (Koval, Chala. 2018. p. 1) and as a result, Uranium is very efficient compared to coal and oil (3) (Brungleinghaus, unknown) Approximately 8 kilowatts can be generated from 1 kilogram of coal, 12 kilowatts from mineral oil, and 24 million kilowatts from the same amount of uranium (3) (Brungleinghaus, unknown) The energy generated from 1 kilogram of uranium- 235 is equal to around 2 or 3 million times the energy from oil or coal (3) (Brungleinghaus, unknown). “Nuclear power facilities can produce energy at a 91% efficiency rate 24/7, with virtually zero carbon emissions.” (2) (Good, 2014.) Because less fuel gives more energy, it helps to lower the cost.
Although most suppliers of uranium must train people how to safely handle and transport uranium- which does increase cost significantly- with these trained operatives, Uranium is easy to transport (5) (unknown, 2017). Uranium must be loaded into special containers for shipping, which also increases cost (5) (unknown, 2017). In 2017, Uranium cost around $38.04 to ship (6) (unknown, 2018).
It is common to find Uranium in Earth’s crust- in fact, it is almost as common as tin or zinc- so Uranium is relatively cheap to buy compared to oil and coal (4) (unknown). Overall, Uranium is less pricey to buy than coal or oil, which aids in decreasing the price (1) (Koval, Chala. 2018. p. 1).
Unlike plants that use fossils fuels such as coal to generate energy, nuclear plants do not directly generate greenhouse gasses while operating (7) (unknown, 2018). By using nuclear power, we consume less non-renewable resources and pollute much less, therefore helping to reduce global warming in the process. (1) (Koval, Chala. 2018. p. 1) The only time there would be pollution would if there was an unrestricted nuclear reaction.
An uncontrolled nuclear reaction in a nuclear reactor could result in widespread contamination of air and water. The risk of this happening at nuclear power plants in the United States is considerably small because of the diverse and redundant barriers and numerous safety systems in place at nuclear power plants; the training and skills of the reactor operators; testing and maintenance activities; and the regulatory requirements and oversight of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. A large area surrounding nuclear power plants is restricted and guarded by armed security teams. U.S. reactors also have containment vessels that are designed to withstand extreme weather events and earthquakes. (7) (unknown, 2018)
As Sam Good says in his article, Nuclear Power: the Good, the Bad, and the Beautiful (2014), “It is estimated that nuclear facilities have saved 1.84 million lives since their inception by preventing the release of countless amounts of harmful pollutants/emissions.” (2)
Like all production of electricity, the nuclear reactions produce waste. Surprisingly, based on volume, most radioactive waste has a relatively low level of radioactivity (7) (unknown, 2018). Some things that are included in this low-level waste are tools, protective clothing, and wiping cloths. (7) (unknown, 2018). Most of the high-level waste is what is left of the uranium after the reactions. Steps are taken so that both high- and low-level wastes are not dangerous after disposals, such as encasing the contaminated waste in a specially- formulated clay, then burying it in dirt and grass.
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