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Nuclear Power

By Awl393 Jun 02, 2013 1014 Words
Nuclear energy is possibly the best form of electricity generation and has many benefits over other forms of power generation. Nuclear power generation has been has been a controversial topic primarily because of the lack of public knowledge on the topic. Many people do not realize that it is a green from of power generation because it does not produce greenhouse gasses and they also don’t realize the massive energy potential of Nuclear power. Nuclear power is capable of providing more power per Tonne of fuel consumed than any other form of power generation. Spent Nuclear fuel rods have been the concern of many people but once they understand what Nuclear waste really is and how easy it is to safely store or reuse it many people’s opinions regarding Nuclear power generation begin to change once they realize the truth about Nuclear energy. Nuclear power has been a reliable source of green energy for nearly 60 years and has shown itself to be a practical green alternative when others have proven to be impractical. Nuclear power plants have a lower ecological footprint in comparison to traditional forms of power generation primarily because they do not produce any form of greenhouse gasses during the reaction process and their only emission is water vapor. Nuclear energy’s impact on the environment at the mining end of the process is minimal because of the small amount of Uranium actually being mined and only second to Uranium collected from metals like copper, closed underground mines are the most common source of Uranium which makes up 30% of the total Uranium mined. One argument against Nuclear reactors is that they naturally leak and increase global radioactivity levels. Reactors do leak but it is best to put this kind of information into proper context. Normal operation releases into the environment total up to 0.0002 mSv per year as the global average, but when compared to the natural background radiation which is currently at a global average of 2.4 mSv/a, and can vary anywhere from 1 mSv/a to 13 mSv/a, so 0.0002 mSv is a rather insignificant amount in the grand scheme of things. Thermo Nuclear power generation has a significant advantage over other forms of power generation because of Uranium’s extremely high energy density allowing for increased production of electricity at a lower cost. The high efficiency of nuclear power reduces the operational costs and the need for a constant feed of resources eliminating the need for massive stock piles or a direct connection to a fuel source. The high efficiency of nuclear power requires less fuel for operation and throughout the world there is only about 54,610 tons of uranium mined2 each year which is only a fraction of the 68 million Tonnes of coal that is mined each year in Canada alone and Canada is only the 14th largest coal producing country. Uranium-235 the most common type of Uranium used in reactors has an energy density of 83 140 000 MJ per Kg vs. Coal which has an energy density of 47 MJ per Kg which gives Nuclear power over 1.7 million times the energy generation capability while consuming the same amount resources. One Kg of Uranium-235 can theoretically produce 80 TJ of energy if complete fission is achieved which is equivalent to approximately 3000 Tonnes of coal. Spent Nuclear fuel has always been somewhat of a problem and always at the top of the list of public concerns. Nuclear waste has been thought of as the ultimate form of pollution by many people, a type of pollution that never truly goes away but many people do not understand what nuclear waste or radiation really is. People don’t realize that they are being eradiated at all times throughout their entire lives and they are receiving anywhere between 1 mSv/a to 13 mSv/a of background radiation at any given time depending on their location in the world.3 Spent Nuclear fuel is easily stored in dry storage casks and heavy water pools which are located on site at many Nuclear facilities. Once spent fuel rods have spent a minimum of 1 year in a heavy water pool they can be placed in dry cask storage units which can be kept on site without the risk of radiation leaks. Breeder reactors have recently come into the eyes of the nuclear community because they have the capability to reuse spent fuel from conventional reactors. Reused fuel in breeder reactors will be able to produce 100 times more energy than conventional light water reactors.9 Breeder reactors combined with seawater Uranium extraction will be able to supply power at the current rates for about 5 billion years making Nuclear as sustainable as wind or solar energy. Reusing fuel in breeder reactors reduces the half-life of the depleted uranium to about 300 years by removing actinides this will allow for a more rapid turnover of nuclear waste and there will be no longer any need for permanent storage of waste materials virtually eliminating nuclear energy’s main problem. Nuclear power generation is by far the best form of power generation and with proper public education on the subject it would most likely become the main source of power around the world. Power generation has been producing power for nearly 60 years without any operational emissions proving its reliability and effectiveness as a green energy source. There is no other source of power generation that can produce a comparable amount of electricity or reach the high levels of resource efficiency Nuclear power has achieved while still being a green energy source. Nuclear waste has been most people’s red flag when talking about Nuclear energy but with advanced Breeder reactors that waste can be reused and reduced with a significantly shorted half-life. Nuclear energy has been the unrecognized green energy source with massive untapped potential and with current and future advancements in efficiency, and safety people may realize the true potential of nuclear to meet the worlds demand for reliable clean energy.

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