Advantages & Disadvantages of Nuclear Energy

Written by alan donahue
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Coal power provides electricity to the majority of the United States, but many parts of the country and all over the world rely on nuclear energy to supply electricity. Nuclear energy has different benefits that make it a better alternative than coal power, but this source of power also has its downfalls for citizens. After looking at both advantages and disadvantages you will have a better understanding of nuclear energy as a whole.

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Function

The process that goes behind nuclear energy must be understood before discussing the advantages and disadvantages. Nuclear energy is created by using special form of uranium and a process called fission. Fission actually splits atoms in uranium and causes a chain reaction effect throughout the whole element. As the atoms split and burst, a heat is created. That heat is used to turn water into steam and the high-powered steam spins a turbine that is connected to a generator that creates electricity.

Effects

The fission process is what turns the uranium radioactive. This means that the uranium is harmful to all living things and can slowly feed off of protons and neutrons from other atoms. When a nuclear plant explodes or burns down, the harmful radiation is exposed into the air and can harm living things and contaminate water. Even without a disaster, radiation is emitted into the air at much slower rate that barley affects humans.

Benefits

One of the major benefits of using nuclear energy as opposed to a coal burning plant is the pollution. Nuclear power plants emit no CO2 or other pollutants into the air. This means that none of the operations that take place in a nuclear power plant help contribute to global warming or pollution.

Considerations

A major problem with the use of nuclear energy is the storage of nuclear waste. The water that is used in a nuclear power plant instantly becomes contaminated, so any water supply that surrounds the plant is unsafe to swim in or drink. If large caves or mountains can be obtained for nuclear storage then the nuclear waste can slowly decay through a process known as "Half-Life."

Potential

The expansion of nuclear energy in foreign countries supplies many benefits for them. Countries like Germany and France are rich in uranium, and because of this, they can remain self-sufficient with their power supply and keep costs down by not having to export elements from other countries. France relies heavily on nuclear power and saves a lot of money by doing so.

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