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NUCLEAR POWER GENERATION

V. Ryan 2006 - 2009

 

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Nuclear Power Stations use a fuel called uranium, a relatively common material. Energy is released from uranium when an atom is split by a neutron. The uranium atom is split into two and as this happens energy is released in the form of radiation and heat. This nuclear reaction is called the fission process

 
   

In a nuclear power station the uranium is first formed into pellets and then into long rods. The uranium rods are kept cool by submerging them in water. When they are removed from the water a nuclear reaction takes place causing heat. The amount of heat required is controlled by raising and lowering the rods. If more heat is required the rods are raised further out of the water and if less is needed they lower further into it.

   
     
 
   
NUCLEAR POWER STATION
   
GENERAL ADVANTAGES AND DISADVANTAGES OF
NUCLEAR POWER GENERATION
   

DISADVANTAGES:

1. Nuclear power is a controversial method of producing electricity. Many people and environmental organisations are very concerned about the radioactive fuel it needs.
2. There have been serious accidents with a small number of nuclear power stations. The accident at Chernobyl (Ukraine) in 1986, led to 30 people being killed and over 100,000 people being evacuated. In the preceding years another 200,00 people were resettled away from the radioactive area. Radiation was even detected over a thousand miles away in the UK as a result of the Chernobyl accident. It has been suggested that over time 2500 people died as a result of the accident.
3. There are serious questions to be answered regarding the storage of radioactive waste produced through the use of nuclear power. Some of the waste remains radioactive (dangerous) for thousands of years and is currently stored in places such as deep caves and mines.
4. Storing and monitoring the radioactive waste material for thousands of years has a high cost.
5. Nuclear powered ships and submarines pose a danger to marine life and the environment. Old vessels can leak radiation if they are not maintained properly or if they are dismantled carelessly at the end of their working lives.
6. Many people living near to nuclear power stations or waste storage depots are concerned about nuclear accidents and radioactive leaks. Some fear that living in these areas can damage their health, especially the health of young children.
7. Many Governments fear that unstable countries that develop nuclear power may also develop nuclear weapons and even use them.

ADVANTAGES:

1. The amount of electricity produced in a nuclear power station is equivalent to that produced by a fossil fuelled power station.
2. Nuclear power stations do not burn fossil fuels to produce electricity and consequently they do not produce damaging, polluting gases.
3. Many supporters of nuclear power production say that this type of power is environmentally friendly and clean. In a world that faces global warming they suggest that increasing the use of nuclear power is the only way of protecting the environment and preventing catastrophic climate change.
4. Many developed countries such as the USA and the UK no longer want to rely on oil and gas imported from the Middle East, a politically unstable part of the world.
5. Countries such as France produce approximately 90 percent of their electricity from nuclear power and lead the world in nuclear power generating technology - proving that nuclear power is an economic alternative to fossil fuel power stations.
6. Nuclear reactors can be manufactured small enough to power ships and submarines. If this was extended beyond military vessels, the number of oil burning vessels would be reduced and consequently pollution.

   

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