- 0.1 Fact Number 1 – Energy Density
- 0.2 Fact Number 2 – Reprocessing Potential
- 0.3 Fact Number 3 – Geological Waste Repository
- 0.4 Fact Number 4 – Scalability
- 0.5 Fact Number 5- Rocket Launch and Space propulsion
- 0.6 Fact Number 6 – Improving Agriculture
- 0.7 Fact Number 7 – Medical Treatment
- 0.8 Fact Number 8 – Downtime
- 0.9 Fact Number 9- Background Radiation
- 0.10 Fact Number 10 – Usage across the world
- 0.11 References
- 0.12 Disclaimer
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Nuclear Power has been used for generating electricity for decades now. Due to the extreme power it holds, this energy source has been fascinating for not only Scientist, Engineers and anyone who has an interest in energy .
Nuclear energy has inspired many science fiction and comic-book writers. From Godzilla to Hulk, many popular characters are in one way or another connected to nuclear energy.
Part of the allure of this technology comes from its Jekyll and Hyde nature. The same technology has brought us not only unparalleled advantages but also tremendous devastation.
Fact Number 1 – Energy Density
An extremely interesting feature about nuclear energy is that it is has the highest energy density among all substances known to mankind.
Uranium used in a Breeder reactor 80,620,000 MJ/kg
Gasoline (Petrol) 46.4 MJ/kg
Coal (Anthracite) 26-33 MJ/kg
Lead acid battery is just 0.17 MJ/kg
Just 6 grams of Nuclear pellet can provide energy for a family living in the UK for a whole year. Same energy stored in 1 tonne of coal.
Fact Number 2 – Reprocessing Potential
Nearly 92% of the fissionable material still remains in the nuclear rod, when it is discarded. The average life of a nuclear fuel rod is four years, after which waste products have built up making it less efficient. Therefore there is great potential in reprocessing nuclear waste.
There are certain processes that ensure 97% of nuclear waste is recycled and sent back to power plants. There is still a need of funding in this area for further research because If the nuclear fuel was not reprocessed it would have to be stored somewhere.
It also helps conserve the world’s uranium supplies, which are currently estimated to last 175 years.
Fact Number 3 – Geological Waste Repository
Nuclear waste can take decades and even centuries to deplete. As mentioned earlier Nuclear fuel rods still have 92% fissionable material in them, these spent fuel rods are still weapon grade i.e they can be dangerous if used in weapons and cause serious harm if anyone gets exposed to them. For this reason Deep Geological Waste Repositories have been dug at various sites around the world to store them for the longterm. Most of these repositories are at least 200 m deep. The deepest one is 1000 m below the surface being constructed in Mizunami Japan.
Fact Number 4 – Scalability
Nuclear Energy usage can be scaled down to a level that it can be used for powering submarines. Using nuclear energy does not emit CO2 and it neither requires combustion. Therefore, for a submarine environment, nuclear power is advantageous as it does not consume air which is precious for a submarines operation and maintaining life support in the vessel.
Fact Number 5- Rocket Launch and Space propulsion
Nuclear propulsion has been proposed for spaceships. There is a well known research called Project Orion. It was the study of a spacecraft intended to be directly propelled by a series of explosions of atomic bombs behind the craft (nuclear pulse propulsion). Early versions of this vehicle were proposed to take off from the ground with significant associated nuclear fallout; later versions were presented for use only in space.
Fact Number 6 – Improving Agriculture
Nuclear energy is used for Plant mutation breeding. Nuclear power has been used to create new variety of seeds that enhance the quality of agriculture. High yield crops can be created that are also disease resistant. The UN estimates that about 795 million people ( 1 in 9) are suffering from Chronic malnutrition. Radiation and Radioisotopes are helping to reduce these figures
Fact Number 7 – Medical Treatment
Nuclear energy is used for radiation therapy.
Radiation therapy uses high-energy radiation to shrink tumours and kill cancer cells. X-rays, gamma rays, and charged particles are types of radiation used for cancer treatment.
It may also be used as part of adjunct therapy, to prevent tumour recurrence after the surgery to remove a primary malignant tumour.
Fact Number 8 – Downtime
Every 18 to 24 months, a nuclear power plant must shut down to remove its spent uranium fuel, which becomes radioactive waste. The downtime can last for several days. Although a reactor can be fuelled in as little as 10 days, refuelling-related outages often last longer.
Fact Number 9- Background Radiation
Our bodies exposed to certain amount of radiation that is received by us from our environment . Most background radiation comes from natural sources, while most artificial radiation comes from medical examinations, such as x-ray photographs.
Human activity has added to background radiation by creating and using artificial sources of radiation. These include radioactive waste from nuclear power stations, radioactive fallout from nuclear weapons testing and medical x-rays.
During world war 2 when little was known about radioactivity, aircraft dials were made of radioactive materials which would glow in the dark thus allowing pilots to read them during night. These dials mostly made out of Radium. when found today are safely disposed as dangers of radiation poisoning have become apparent.
Fact Number 10 – Usage across the world
Over 10% of the world electricity generation in the world comes from nuclear power. It remains a carbon free source of energy that also is one of the cheapest (if the disposal costs are excluded). In France over 70% of the electricity generated is through Nuclear Energy. Fukushima disaster of 2011 was a turning point for Nuclear Power industry. In its wake Germany announced that it will close all of it nuclear power plants by 2022. Japan that was all set to get 50% of it energy from nuclear by 2030 has also revised its plans.
This article is not an attempt to promote Nuclear Energy. It is a fascinating resource of energy because of it extreme power. Not only it holds energy to power grid but can be used for many other peaceful initiatives such as cancer treatment and agriculture.
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