Facts on Nuclear Energy
There are many facts on nuclear energy all over the web, some you may have read over and over again. Today, I hope to bring you some new nuclear energy facts in this article.
What fuels nuclear power plants
Nuclear energy is fuelled by uranium which has an Atomic number of 92 (number of protons in the nucleus). Uranium is mined in over twenty countries, therefore making uranium non-renewable source of energy.
Who discovered nuclear energy
The physicist Enrico Fermi discovered a nuclear chain reaction was achievable in 1942, this was done at the University of Chicago under a stadium. In the 1930’s the nuclear power idea first began.
A little nuclear power plant history
1954 saw the first power plant come on line producing electricity from nuclear energy. This was the Obninsk power plant in the former Soviet Union. Obninsk power plant closed in 2002 and was located about 100km Southwest of Moscow.
How many nuclear power plants are in the world
As of 2020 there are 440 nuclear power plants currently connected to grid in over 30 countries. France has one of the largest nuclear power plants in the world, producing around 70% of the total electricity generated in 2018.
How popular is nuclear energy
Facts for nuclear energy show that there are 54 nuclear reactors currently under construction worldwide as of 2020 and China are constructing the most. Source
Are nuclear power plants safe
American nuclear energy facilities are the highest regulated plants in the world, subject to scrutinous observations and regulations.
Countries with most nuclear reactors
Out of the 440 nuclear reactors worldwide in 2019 the United States has the greater amount, followed by France and China.
With 97 reactors the US generates 30% of the worlds nuclear electricity. France has 58 reactors and produces 75% of the countries electricity, then China with 47, Russia 36 and South Korea 23. Source
Types of nuclear energy
What process is currently used to generate nuclear power? There are three main ways of producing nuclear energy, either by fission, fusion or radioactive decay.
Interesting facts about nuclear fission
Nuclear fission is produced under a controlled environment within nuclear power plants to release energy from a neutron. The neutron is the nucleus of an atom, which is bombarded by very light neutrinos. Neutrons are then broken into two smaller sized nuclei, this intern releases around 200 times the amount of energy of the original neutron.
Is nuclear fission safe
Nuclear energy is as safe or safer than any other form of energy available. No member of the public has ever been injured or killed in the entire 50-year history of commercial nuclear power in the U.S.
Facts about nuclear fusion
A nuclear fusion fact is that as fusion suggests it is the process of multiple charged atomic nuclei joining together to form a nucleus producing enormous amounts of energy. This is the opposite process of nuclear fission.
Is nuclear fusion safe
The Chernobyl disaster is possibly the best known nuclear disaster. The Chernobyl power plant had a fission reactor. Nuclear fusion is safe due to the fact that there is no chance of a chain reaction leading to a meltdown.
How long does nuclear energy last
We can keep producing nuclear energy using uranium, (the most common nuclear fuel) at the current rate for approximately another 80 years, however, there are new reactor being constructed worldwide each year, so this will affect the predicted forecast. Uranium must be mined for it’s ore which is not renewable short term.
This begs the question, is nuclear energy viable? Seawater contains large amounts of uranium which can be extracted and used in conventional reactors. Extracting 4.6 trillion kg’s of uranium from seawater could extend nuclear power for another 5,700 years. But if used in fast breeder reactors we could multiply this by a factor of 60, therefore uranium could last another 300,000 years. Source
By-products of nuclear power
There are four by-product of nuclear power, they are radioactive materials from nuclear fission, the splitting of uranium or plutonium in nuclear reactors. After processing uranium ore tailings are produced, tailings is the name given to the waste. Materials used in a particle accelerators for medical or commercial activities, such as Cobalt.
And finally naturally occurring radioactive source which has been processed to increase its concentration such as radium.
Facts about nuclear waste
Until radioactive waste decays and becomes safe it must be stored for thousands of years, either using dry cask storage which are large cylinders of concrete and steel that hold 10 metric tons or more of high-level radioactive waste. The other option is to bury it deep underground.
More nuclear waste facts, After operating for five years in a reactor it is possible to recycle used nuclear fuel as over 90% of its energy remains enabling new fuel and by-products to be manufactured. France recycles used nuclear fuel, but the United States does not.
Where is nuclear energy used in the US
There is at least one commercial nuclear reactor in twenty nine of the US States as of 2019, the largest being in Mississippi. Most power reactors are found east of the Mississippi River.
Nuclear energy production in the US
Nuclear energy produces about 20% of the total electricity generated in the US, this is due to technical reasons plus cost.
Nuclear power plants use lots of water.
Nuclear plants use large amounts of water, more than other power plants. Knowing that water is an essential part of the nuclear power industry it explains why power plants are found adjacent to bodies of water, such as oceans, lakes and rivers.
The water is pumped from the body of water and heated to create steam to power the turbines. Once the steam has condensed it can either be reused to generate power or pumped back into the body of water where it was sourced. This could pose a risk to aquatic life due to the high temperature of the returning water. I have also written an extensive article about nuclear energy’s pros and cons its well worth a read now.
How often do nuclear power plants refuel
Nuclear power plants go through cleaning cycles every 18 months to 24 months and is carried out during times when electricity demands are lower, such as Autumn and Spring. During this time radioactive waste is removed and the power plant is refuelled.
More fun facts on nuclear energy
The sun is powered by which form of nuclear energy
The energy from the Sun is produced by the fusion process, the fusion of hydrogen nuclei into helium. So,does nuclear energy come from the sun? No, as because it turns matter into energy and not nuclear energy.
First nuclear submarine
On January 21, 1954 the USS Nautilus took its first nuclear powered journey and on August 3, 1958 it became the first nuclear powered submarine to reach the North Pole, sailing under the arctic ice.
How big are atoms
The centre of an atom is called the nucleus and this is exactly where nuclear energy is found. One tiny pin head is made up of millions and millions of atoms.
Common product of nuclear energy in medicine
Nuclear medicine is used to treat patients with cancer, destroying the cancer cells with a course of radiotherapy and isotopes are used for examining the human body.
What powers the Curiosity rover
The Mars rover Curiosity is powered by an energy source known as MMRTP or Multi-Mission Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator. Heat generated by decaying plutonium dioxide is converted into electricity and charges two rechargeable lithium-ion batteries.