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Nuclear Energy and Nuclear Waste


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Title: Nuclear Energy and Nuclear Waste

Nuclear Energy and Nuclear Waste
  • The Good, The Bad, and the Uglyby thulasi raman

What is Nuclear Energy?
  • Nuclear energy is the energy that exists within
    the nucleus of an atom.
  • There are 2 types of Nuclear Energy
  • Nuclear fission is the splitting of a large
    nucleus, releasing HUGE amounts of energy.
  • Nuclear fusion is the combining of smaller nuclei
    to form heavier nuclei, releasing HUGE amounts of

How is Nuclear Fission Energy produced?
If a Nuclear Reaction is not controlled
Nuclear Energy must be harnessed if used to make
  • Nuclear reactions in a nuclear power plant occur
    at a controlled, manageable pace and release
    energy slowly.
  • Heat is generated and used to boil water,
    creating steam. The steam turns turbines which
    rotate electric generators, creating electricity.
  • Steam is released from the cooling towers.
  • (click on picture for more info)

How does a Nuclear Power Plant Work?
How much energy is produced?
  • Nuclear power is an extremely rich energy source.
  • One gram of Uranium-235 delivers as much energy
    as 3.5 metric tons of coal!!!
  • One in every 5 houses in the U.S. is supplied
    with nuclear energy.

Where are Nuclear Power Plants located?
Pros for Nuclear Power
  • Rich energy source.
  • 1 gram of Uranium-235 delivers as much
  • energy as 3.5 metric tons of coal.
  • Reactors run for years without refueling or being
    shut down and need little maintenance.
  • No air pollution!

Cons about Nuclear Power
  • Produces Radioactive Waste
  • There is no permanent long-term disposal site for
    commercial nuclear waste.
  • There is a relatively short supply of 235U (only
    enough left for 100200 years)
  • Nuclear Power Plants are expensive to build.
  • Minor maintenance problems can be very expensive
    to fix.
  • Safety concerns!!!

Potential for Disaster!
  • Chernobyl meltdown in the former Soviet Union.
  • Hundreds died from radiation exposure.
  • Thousands contracted cancers from high levels of
    radiation exposure.

A Close Call at Home!!!
  • The most serious nuclear accident in the U.S.
    occurred in 1979 at Three Mile Island nuclear
    power plant in Pennsylvania.
  • A small amount of radioactive gas escaped the
    containment structure.

Nuclear Waste
  • Plutonium, cesium, strontium, and other -ium
    elements created in a nuclear reactor emit
    dangerous radiation that can literally knock
    electrons off the atoms of our cells, disrupting
    or destroying cell function or even causing cells
    to mutate into cancer cells.
  • Radioactive elements emit radiation because they
    are unstable theyd rather be something else.
  • They achieve this by going to pieces emitting
    particles and waves billions of times per second.
    This process is called a half-life.

(No Transcript)
What is a Half-Life?
  • Every radioactive element has a half-life
  • Half-life is the time it takes for half of its
    atoms to decay.
  • Half-lives range from a fraction of a second to
    billions of years 4.5 billion for uranium 238.
  • The longer the half-life, the less intense the
  • After 10 half-lives, an element is usually

Types of Waste
  • High-Level Waste
  • The most dangerous radioactive waste
  • Spent fuel comes from nuclear reactors (52,000
  • liquid and solid waste from plutonium production
    (91 million gallons).
  • About 70 percent of the available storage space
    is now filled with used fuel assemblies at Turkey

Types of Waste
  • Transuranic Waste
  • Includes clothing, tools, and other materials
    contaminated with plutonium, neptunium, and other
    man-made elements heavier than uranium. (11.3
    million cubic feet)

Types of Waste
  • Low and Mixed Low-Level Waste
  • Includes radioactive and hazardous wastes from
    hospitals, research institutions, and
    decommissioned power plants (472 million cubic
  • Turkey Point produced annually on average about
    2,500 cubic feet of low-level waste. This amount
    of waste could be contained within an area about
    the size of a 30'x30' room.

Types of Waste
  • Uranium Mill Tailings
  • Residues left from the extraction of uranium ore
    (265 million tons).