Nuclear power is the use of nuclear processes,
such as fission, to generate heat and electricity
that we can use. Nuclear fission is a process in
which the nucleus of a particle splits into
smaller, lighter nuclei. Usually, such processes
result in a very large amount of energy released.
How large? Well, if we compare a typical
combustion reaction, such as coal burning (the
kind that fuels the majority of our electricity in
the country) or gasoline combustion, then we'll
see that allowing 1 kilogram of Uranium-235 to
undergo fission releases about 2-3 million times
the amount of energy released in the combustion
reaction of 1 kilogram sample of coal. That's HUGE
difference! 2 million is a two followed by SIX
Another benefit of using nuclear power in
addition to having much more energy released for
the equivalent size of starting material, is that
it doesn't contribute to greenhouse gas emissions
like fossil fuel burning does. This means less
overall pollution to the environment as long as
nuclear power facilities are properly maintained.
This is especially important in the face of tragic
events such as the disaster at Chernobyl in 1986,
or the more recent accidents in Fukushima in 2011.
One of the greatest risks associated with nuclear
power is the nuclear waste, which is radioactive
and hazardous to most forms of life. However,
there are many European countries which have
successfully carried out nuclear programs in the
past several decades.
One thing to keep in mind is the diminishing
availability of fossil fuels and natural gas.
These resources are not only used to fuel our
society in terms of energy, but a small component
of the fossil fuels we harvest are also used for
other things that seem to have become necessary in
our lives, including for the production of many
plastic materials. As resources become more and
more limited, we need to consider alternative
sources of energy, such as solar, wind, water, and
nuclear energies to complement gasoline and coal
Click Here to return to the search form.