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Chapter 11: Nuclear Energy: Benefits & Risks


Benefits & Risks Fact: 7% of energy consumed worldwide comes from nuclear power The Nature of Nuclear Energy Two types: Fusion and Fission Fusion Two or more lighter ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Chapter 11: Nuclear Energy: Benefits & Risks

Chapter 11 Nuclear Energy Benefits Risks
  • Fact 7 of energy consumed worldwide comes from
    nuclear power

(No Transcript)
(No Transcript)
The Nature of Nuclear Energy
  • Two types Fusion and Fission
  • Fusion
  • Two or more lighter nuclei combine to form
    heavier nucleus energy, e.g., hydrogen fusion
    to helium
  • Takes place inside core of Sun
  • Takes place in an H-bomb
  • Not feasible as a controlled energy source, too
    hot to contain

The Nature of Nuclear Energy
  • Fission
  • heavy nucleus splits into smaller particles
  • Example First atomic bombs, like those dropped
    on Hiroshima Nagasaki
  • Can be controlled and used as a source of
    commercial energy Nuclear power plants

Figure 11.2
Nuclear Reactors Power Generation
  • Several types, most use Uranium-235 (some
    Pu-239) as fuel
  • Energy is released, which is used to heat water
    to make steam, which is used to turn a turbine to
    generate electricity
  • Figure 11.4 gt

Nuclear Fuel Cycle fig 11.9
  • U-235 is a nonrenewable resource (just like
    fossil fuels), it is mined (expensive)
  • Typical uranium ore contains only 0.2 Uranium
  • Of that 99.3 is U-238 (not usable) and 0.7
  • So, ore must be enriched (expensive) and made
    into fuel rods
  • Fuel rods used in reactors last about 3 years,
    but still have radioactivity left spent fuel
    rods gt radioactive waste
  • Disposal of this waste is a major problem

Nuclear Waste Disposal
  • Fuel rods placed in sealed casks, then
  • High-level (of radiation) waste disposal
  • Or, burial in geologically stable area
  • NIMBY problems

Yucca Mountain, NV -- fig. 11.18
  • http//

Nuclear Power Concerns
  • No fear of nuclear explosion (like a nuclear
  • Greatest fear if proper safety measures arent
    followed (human error!), reactor can overheat and
    cause a steam explosion, which throws radioactive
    material a long distance
  • Ex Chernobyl disaster of 1986, pp. 234-235
  • Ex (almost happened) Three-Mile Island, PA 79

Nuclear Power Concerns...
  • Exposure to radiation (see table 11.3, p. 237)
  • Note Not from nuclear power plants!
  • Concern is from handling ore, fuel rods, waste
  • Thermal pollution
  • water used to cool reactor gets returned to
    natural water system (lake, river, ocean)
  • some species are sensitive to temperature
  • fossil fuel plants also release hot water, but
    not as much as nucs (1/2 waste heat instead of

Nuclear Power Concerns...
  • Decommissioning costs
  • All power plants have a finite life 30-40 years
  • Must then be decommissioned, or taken apart in
    a systematic and careful way quite expensive to
    do right (50 million - 3 billion)
  • Waste disposal
  • already discussed

Nuclear Power Benefits (?)
  • Produces no air pollution!
  • No CO2 (global warming), CO, no nitrogen or
    sulfur oxides, no volatile organic compounds, no
    particulate matter
  • Mining is safer than (underground) coal mining
  • Very successful in France, where it supplies 73
    of its electricity and costs 20 - 30 less than
    generating electricity by coal
  • reason government and public support

Nuclear Power Benefits (?)
  • A good possible transition fuel as fossil fuels
    become more scarce (until better renewable
    sources can be developed, recall nuclear energy
    is not renewable)
  • Comment Part of the lack of success of nukes in
    the U.S. is the propaganda against it, especially
    after Three-Mile Island and Chernobyl (both of
    which were caused by human incompetence, not
    nuclear technology)

Anti-Nuclear Propaganda
Read The Nuclear Legacy of the Soviet Union
  • P. 231, Notice how we are blamed for this too!