Boon and Bane of Nuclear Power

Topics: Nuclear power, Nuclear fission, Energy development Pages: 10 (3466 words) Published: February 27, 2011
In these modern times, are nuclear power plants feasible to every nation around the world? How about in a nation experiencing the toll of depletion of resources, destruction of nature and poverty at the same time; is it still an answer for economic growth? Is the construction of nuclear power plants an aid for the spur of development of a country or a growing threat to the environment? Do nuclear power plants serve the people best or destroy the nature best?

Nuclear power plants are said to have drastic effects both good and bad for a country where it will be used for. Surely it will increase the supply of energy of each country; this will contribute more to the economic productivity of the served country. However, it is undeniable that there are still matters and factors to be further examined.

We aim to briefly examine and present the major boons and banes of a nuclear power plant and its construction, to evaluate the positive and negative benefits of building a nuclear power plant, and to weigh what it could bring more to the people and the environment. We aim to know why developed and developing nations mull in opening power plants despite of the risks it brings. More importantly we want everyone to have knowledge about the basic things about a nuclear power plant: what it is, how it works, its underlying effects, good or bad, and our recommendation for the problems it brings. Furthermore, this research will help us to prepare and see if our country, the Philippines, need such kind of power plant. Are we ready to open our potential power plants? Will we be ready? Are we aware of what it will cost us?

Nuclear Power Plants
A nuclear power plant, like any other power plant, is a facility used to provide electricity. However, it uses a nuclear reactor as heat source to provide steam to a turbine generator. These plants depend on the heat caused by controlled nuclear reactions, specifically nuclear fission, where one atom is made to split into two.

There is a need for such kind of power plants to be housed in very strong steel and concrete to prevent the risks of radioactivity. Concrete liner is used to act as the very shield against radiation and to house the pressure vessel where the nuclear reaction happens. This is then contained in a larger steel containment vessel, which served as a barrier to prevent leakage of radioactive gases or liquids. The final layer is an outer concrete building which should be strong enough to survive any kind of massive damage that may result to earthquakes and the like.

The process of nuclear fission
In Physics, a nuclear fission is a nuclear reaction wherein the nucleus of an atom splits into smaller parts. This may produce free neutrons and lighter nuclei, further producing photons. Natural fission of elements undergo extremely slowly, thus power plants require induced fission.

Uranium-235 is the most common that allows the best results for induced fission. It splits immediately when a free neutron runs into it. Its nucleus easily absorbs free neutrons, thus making it unstable and splitting in the latter. As soon as it splits into two lighter atoms, it also throws of two or three new neutrons, depending on the number of splits. This process happens in a very high speed, and in very large quantities, producing great amount of heat and radiation. For such fission to work successfully for a power plant, however, the uranium used must be tested and must have 2 to 3 percent more Uranium-235 otherwise the induced fission will either end or blow up.

Inside a nuclear power plant
Nuclear power plants controls the energy produced by the enriched uranium, and allow it to heat water to steam. This processed uranium is formed into pellets, 1 inch long, and are arranged into long rods, and further into bundles. The bundles are then submerged in water inside a pressure vessel, where water acts as a coolant. To control the rate of nuclear reaction, these rods are...

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