Guardian Units of Nations
Nuclear power. We either love it, hate it, or just flat out don't know what it is. What is nuclear power? It's using fission - splitting atoms apart - to generate heat and electricity. It's really powerful!
Now, building plants is easy. They pay back the costs of being built within the first two months of operations. We also hear a lot of hubbub over CO2, right? The nasty little gas - carbon dioxide - that traps heat over the earth, and is produced especially by coal and gasoline. You know, the big cause of Global Warming, right? Well, get this. Nuclear power is, for the most part, free of emissions. Most of them come from the processes of enriching the Uranium. In this instance, one power plant was examined from Sweden (named Vattenfall) produced 3.3 grams per KW-Hr of produced power. Natural gas is 400 grams, while coal is 700 grams for the same output. In fact, Vattenfall uses less CO2 for nuclear power than the other types of energy it produces, such as wind and solar energy, and those are already very clean!
Oh, and running out of Uranium? They suspect there are 85 years worth, with another 500 years speculated to exist. So, that's a total of 585 years. And now there are studies to use Thorium, which is three - THREE - times more abundant than Uranium. That's about 1755 years of power with Thorium (585 x 3)! Add on the fact they are finding uses for spent fuel rods and depleted Uranium stocks used for enrichment, and that's a lot...
As for waste? Power plants create Plutonium, which is considered waste. Highly radioactive waste, yes. However, there are plans to use Plutonium as a source of power. Waste is first cooled for 20-40 years in water, then stored under the ground in multiple barriers to protect from leakage (it has been proven a natural reactor in Gabon, West Africa has remained contained by nature
for 2 billion years). This COULD be an issue, if not for plans to create reactors that could use that waste as a source of fuel. Fusion-Fission Hybrids use neutrons from plasma to drive nuclear transmutation, and it's believed 6 of these would be enough to deal with all the waste from 100 regular reactors.
Very High Temperature Reactors (VHTR) are also an idea. Using the waste of a single load from a reactor over four years, it would deliver all the energy needed over the 60 year life of a VHTR. It would destroy almost all of the waste, and would help deliver ten times the energy of the original fuel. That is a LOT of ENERGY, and with getting rid of the waste it's now even more clean.
Fun fact: A nuclear power plant produces 30 tonnes of waste a year if not reprocessed (it usually is). Compare that to a coal plant, which produces 300,000 tonnes of ash per year. Hmm, another point for being clean.
They are very safe, having learned from the faulty construction of both Chernobyl and the Three Mile Island incident.
Ways to control radiation include inserting control rods, which reduces neutrons that cause fission, and the generators themselves are created so that as they get hotter beyond optimal temperature the efficiency of reactions decreases, so it begins to slow down automatically. There is always a way to cool a reactor, usually water is used but sodium or sodium salts is an alternative. There are several barriers between the core and people; many are encased in thick walls of concrete, with further ones inside to shield workers. There might even be a vacuum building which is connected to it, with a negative atmosphere. Any radiation that leaks floods that building, as high pressure always goes to low pressure.
There are multiple back up components for a reactor, independent systems (two or more performing the same function), monitoring of the station, and the fact if one system fails it will have no effect on other systems.
Radiation doses to workers are controlled via remote control of equipment in the core of the reactor, physical shielding, limit on time a worker spends in a highly radioactive area, and monitoring of doses in the work environment.
The issue of nuclear weapons isn't what is being discussed here. They're already created, people will continue to create them - but whether people use them is another story. With everything I have stated, nuclear power is far more efficient than any other source we have currently. Add on the fact that there are plans to use the waste as another fuel source, and it's a highly profitable and productive source of electricity for a growing world. The lack of pollution it creates is great for the environment. And while incidents do happen, they are for the most part safe. If anything, they are more
safe compared to other plants due to the nature of the fuel involved. Mistakes can and do happen, but blaming the entire source is foolhardy - a bit like saying just because that Prius crashed into a shop, every single Prius created is going to have the same fate. What is neglected to say is that the Prius didn't kill anyone and the safety measures involved saved lives.
The fact Nuclear Power is cleaner than even Solar or Wind is also a good factor to consider, and it isn't reliant on sunny weather or a windy area, which severely limits those sources.
Similar concept here ^^
Same website, different areas used.