Meaning of nuclear energy
Nuclear energy is the energy which is released by the nucleus of an atom due to nuclear fusion and nuclear fission. It is also the the energy that is present in the nucleus of the atom. In each atom, there are two particles (protons and neutrons) which are held together. Nuclear energy is the energy that holds these two particles together.
Nuclear energy can be used in production of electricity. There are two ways in which this energy can be obtained; nuclear fusion and nuclear fission. In nuclear fusion, a large amount of energy is released when atoms are fused together so as to form a larger atom. However, in nuclear fission, the atoms are divided into produce smaller atoms thus releasing energy. When either nuclear fusion or nuclear fission reactions take place, mass of the atom reduces slightly. This slight mass lost is capable of generating a big amount of energy called nuclear energy.
Advantages of using nuclear energy
- 1. It is highly efficient. There is high density of energy produced by nuclear power plants.
- Abundant supply.
- It is environmental friendly.
- The amount of Uranium needed to produce the same amount of energy as oil or coal is less.
- It can run uninterrupted for many days.
- Low cost compared to the use of coal and oil.
- There are no greenhouse gas emissions.
- Uranium is usually less expensive to transport and procure as compared to oil.
- Low maintenance costs.
- Generating electricity from nuclear energy helps in reducing the amount of energy that is generated from fossil fuels.
- Nowadays, fossil fuels are being consumed faster than they can be produced, hence in future the fossil fuels will reduce thereby increasing their price and becoming inaccessible by most of population.
- Nuclear power plant does not depend on natural aspects.
- It is an alternative to fossil fuels.
- Plays a major role in reducing the consumption rate of fossil fuels, hence reducing diseases caused by fossil fuels and improving the quality of life.
Disadvantages of using nuclear energy.
- Accidents might happen regardless of safety measures applied to nuclear plants.
- There are nuclear waste disposal issues.
- The production of nuclear energy is harmful since it has nuclear reactors which puts the in danger the health of people working and living near a power plant.
- It is expensive to to build power plants.
- Fission is the nuclear reaction used currently, they can cause radioactive explosions that would be impossible to contain.
- Nuclear plants usually produce external dependence. Not all countries have Uranium.
- Nuclear plants have a limited life.
- They pollute water since the nuclear fission chambers are cooled by water.
- It takes many years to eliminate radioactivity and risks present in discards of nuclear plants.
- Heavy metals and toxic pollutants released by power plants are harmful to plants and animals life in the aquatic bodies.
- Uranium, which is a raw material in power plants is naturally unstable, hence precautions are taken during mining, transportation, and storage.
- There are many nuclear reactors that have been have been shut down but are still in use.
Basically, nuclear power plants only use nuclear fission to produce electricity. Nuclear power is the most controversial source of energy in existence.