Nuclear Energy Is the Future Essay
Do you believe that something small can power a country? A pound of Uranium has the capacity to produce the same amount of energy of 3 million pounds of fossil fuel. That’s how powerful nuclear energy is, generating so much from so little unlike our common source of energy today namely fossil fuel. That is why nuclear energy is the best alternative source of energy to fossil fuel. Even thought there are hearsays that nuclear energy isn’t safe as the use of fossil fuels, there are advantages of nuclear energy that outweighs the disadvantages and actions that solves some problems with nuclear energy today and in the future.
Some of the advantages and actions include a more efficient way in production electricity, an ongoing project to improve safety of nuclear energy, and a cleaner production of electricity. As evidence, some countries have already started using nuclear energy as their main source of electricity like France and Lithuania. In this era, about more than 50% of our energy comes from fossil fuels which include coals, petroleum, natural gas, etc.
However, in the steady decline of fossil fuels, we have at least the next 20 years till our oil, coal, and natural gas reserves are all depleted away according to Laer (2010)…
So what would be a great solution to our energy crisis which can match the output of fossil fuels? The answer is nuclear energy. From the first sentence of the essay, we see that a pound of Uranium is equivalent to 3 million pounds of fossil fuel to generate electricity. In simpler terms, an atom of Uranium-235 has the capacity to make about 200 MeV (million electron volts), and if it releases that much energy in an atom, a pound full of Uranium-235 atom has the equivalence of a million gallons of gasoline.
To show how efficient nuclear power is, a statistic compilation of the world’s overall energy production from different sources was made in 2009. It shows that nuclear energy had a total of about 14 percent of the world’s energy production. What’s surprising is that this is the average of the world’s energy production, which means that there are some countries that the majority of their energy production came from nuclear energy namely France and Lithuania. About 75. 2 percent of France’s energy production comes from nuclear energy, while about 20 percent for the US.
Without nuclear energy, the beautiful lights in France wouldn’t be admired by their beauty today. Nuclear energy is said to be dangerous due to its lack of safety on energy production. It is true that nuclear energy had its name printed in the headlines of newspapers like the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant incident, but that doesn’t mean that nuclear power is unsafe to discard it as an alternative source of energy for fossil fuels. Nuclear power has evolved through the years and is still being improved in terms of safety and efficiency.
In an article of Lake, Bennett, and Kotek (2009), man had been continuing to find ways in improving nuclear energy. An example is the 1999 Generation IV program. This refers to the division of nuclear designs in four categories namely early prototypes (Generation I), large central stations with some safety features (Generation II), advance light-water reactors with improved safety features from the past (Generation III), and the next-generation system of nuclear production like gas-cooled, water-cooled, and fast-spectrum (Generation IV).
Another safety action for the production of nuclear energy is the construction of a 98 ft wide and 2 mile deep ditch with steep walls 33 ft deep with magnets and radar reflectors for used nuclear fuels, and according to Biello (2009), it will last for at most 10,000 years holding used nuclear energy. To further show the improvement of nuclear safety, we go back to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant incident. The safety mechanisms were shown by the reactor by its immediate descends of control rods to immediately shutting down the reactor reducing the disaster of the reactor to the people and the environment.
Lastly, the use of nuclear power may be the answer to our environmental problem which is the increasing amounts of carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels. Though nuclear power only contributes to about 20 percent in the production of energy in the US, it contributes to a staggering 70 percent of the carbon-free energy production today. This is because nuclear energy uses heat and water to produce electricity. Specifically, nuclear energy comes from the heat produced from the radioactive elements like Uranium in the reactor to convert water to steam.
The steam then turns the turbine and the generator to produce electricity. The steam from the reactor is then condensed and sent back as water to repeat the whole process again. Overall, nuclear energy makes use of radioactive elements to produce steam to power a turbine and a generator to produce energy. Compared to fossil fuel, if we depend in it generate electricity, this would normally release about 2 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide per year compared to a few amounts of radioactivity from nuclear energy in the atmosphere.
Which do you think would kill more people? (Brian & Lamb (2000)),(Bielo (2009)) In conclusion, nuclear energy is the best alternative energy source to fossil fuel due to its productivity in producing energy, continuous improvement in its safety in the production of energy, and the clean production of energy for the environment and the people. Without it, our environment would be worse due to the amount of carbon dioxide release from fossil fuels and we would be experiencing a major energy dilemma. Though it contributes about only 14 percent in the overall energy production, it has made a major impact in reducing carbon dioxide emissions with the use of only a small amount of Uranium.
Laer R. V. (2010) Peak Uncertainty, When Will We Run Out Of Fossil Fuels? , from http://www. science20. com/absentminded_professor/peak_uncertainty_when_will_we _run_out_fossil_fuels-70294 Lamb R. & Brian M. (2000), How Nuclear Power Works, from http://science. howstuffworks. com/nuclear-power. htm Biello, D. 2009) Spent Nuclear Fuel: A Trash Heap Deadly for 250,000 Years or a Renewable Energy Source? , from www. scientificamerican. com/article. cfm? id=nuclear-waste-lethal-trash-or-renewable-energy-source Lake, J. A. , Bennett R. G. , & Kotek J. F. , (2009), Next Generation Nuclear Power, from http://www. scientificamerican. com/article. cfm? id=next-generation-nuclear Biello, D. (2009) Reactivating Nuclear Reactors for the Fight against Climate Change from http://www. scientificamerican. com/article. cfm? id=reactivating-nuclear-reactors-to-fight-climate-change