Introduction: energy from incinerating coal, it uses energy

Introduction:

   Nuclear technology remains the longest
running controversy in terms of technology. It is based on nuclear reactions of
the atomic nuclei. It has numerous advantages, including low pollution rates
and reliability compared to fossil fuels. However, implications such as radioactive
accidents and threats of nuclear terrorism overshadow the potentials of nuclear
technology. Two events that represent this implication of nuclear technology
are the Chernobyl disaster and Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster. According to
the 2015 Fukushima Report, an estimate of 32 million people in Japan were
affected, either directly or indirectly by the radioactive fallout in the
Fukushima Disaster (World Nuclear Association Writers, 2017). This leads to the
question, is nuclear technology worth the atrocious repercussions it may lead
to?

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Principles
of nuclear technology:

   Nuclear technology utilizes nuclear energy.
Nuclear energy is created when atoms are spilt. Atoms are fundamental parts of
matter, composed of subatomic particles such as electrons, protons and
neutrons. The number of protons differ from element to element, for instance
the lightest element, hydrogen has only one proton, while the heaviest natural
element, uranium has 92 protons. The nucleus of an atom is held together by the
strong nuclear force. When the atom is bombarded with a neutron, the atom
splits apart and releases energy. This process is called fission. As uranium
atoms are large, the strong nuclear force binding them together is
substantially weak and hence uranium atoms are apt for fission. This atomic split
also releases other neutrons from the uranium atom, which subsequently collides
with other atoms and causes a chain reaction. Then this atomic energy is converted
into a usable power such as electricity through nuclear power plants (Fort,
2014).

 

Figure 1: Fission of uranium
atoms (Williams,
2009)

Nuclear power plants

      Nuclear power plants work similarly to conventional
power plants. However, instead of producing energy from incinerating coal, it
uses energy released from atomic fission (Duke Energy editors, 2012). Firstly,
uranium fuel, which entails of small ceramic pellets packed into long vertical
tubes is loaded up into the reactor. The nuclear reactor regulates nuclear
chain reactions. In the core of the nuclear reactor, atoms spilt apart, releasing
heat energy and producing neutrons that collide with other atoms to cause a
chain reaction. Then control rods composed of cadmium and boron are lowered
into the nuclear reactor to soak up neutrons to slow down the chain reaction or
are taken out of the reactor to speed up the chain reaction. Secondly, in order
to gather the heat energy produced, water is pumped through the nuclear
reactor. It connects the nuclear reactor with the heat exchanger by continually
flowing around a closed loop. The heat energy is then turned into steam, when
the water inside the heat exchanger, releases it energy to the colder water
that is flowing in another closed loop. The heat exchanger then channels the
steam to a turbine, which uses energy from fluid flows and converts it into
work. The turbine’s vanes spin around in a relatively high speed, when the
steam blows past them. This turbine is connected to an electricity generator,
which in turn produces electricity from motive power. After which, the
electricity flows out to the power grid from which it is distributed (Woodford,
2017).

Figure 2: Structure of
nuclear power plants (Corr, 2010)

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