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Understanding Energy - What is Nuclear Power?

Nuclear power is one of the most discussed sources of energy nowadays. Nuclear energy is produced by nuclear fission or nuclear fusion of radioactive elements such as uranium. The process of nuclear energy production is free from carbon emission. So for this reason it is considered as an environment friendly energy source.

Nuclear energy is produced by certain chemical reactions. These reactions produce a huge amount of energy that is then converted to other forms of energy depending upon its required application. The reaction generally used to produce nuclear energy is nuclear fission. The fission reaction takes place within the nuclear reactor. Here the nucleus of the uranium atom is hit by some foreign neutron.

This causes the nucleus to break down into many small pieces and to release some free neutrons from it. The released neutrons hit the other uranium atoms and they break down. Thus a chain reaction takes place and huge amount of energy is released in the form of heat. This energy is then converted to other suitable forms if needed.

Nuclear energy is quite popular nowadays, notwithstanding tragic accidents which have occurred at nuclear power plants in the past. The most common source of energy today, however, is derived from fossil fuels. Due to the excessive use of these fossil fuels, it is predicted that their reserves will soon be exhausted. So a new source of energy is needed badly to meet the needs of the current age. Beside this, there are also environmental concerns with the continued use of fossil fuels. The burning of fossil fuel releases carbon emissions into the air, which is harmful to the environment.

Many scientists believe this is increasing the temperature of the atmosphere of the whole world, as a result of what they call the greenhouse effect. The atmospheric pollutions produced from burning fossil fuels is also directly harmful to people and animals, having many adverse health consequences. Nuclear energy is free from emitting carbon products, so in this way it is friendly to the environment.

A nuclear power plant needs less substrate than the fossil fuel using power plant. So it has less fuel consumption too. The subject of the nuclear reaction is very sensitive, however, because the processed uranium can be used to produce the nuclear weapons and the nuclear waste is very harmful to the environment. So, caution should be exercised when handling these materials. A nuclear power plant is also a sensitive place. Radiation leaks can occur anytime if there any kind of fault in the reactor, creating a hazardous situation for a potentially large geographical area.

Nuclear energy needs lot of technological support for production. Nations with the less technological advancement are unlikely to have the facilities and support to safely implement nuclear energy plants. Only a few countries in the world have already implemented nuclear power as a means of electricity generation. World politics also presents an obstacle to the wide use of the nuclear power, as the supply of radioactive materials necessary to achieve the requisite reactions is subject to many restrictions.

So while from some angles it may seem that nuclear energy generation could be a perfect solution to the exhaustion of fossil fuels, there are quite a few objections to its immediate widespread usage.

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