We all know Fukushima nuclear disaster because it’s one of the most important news in the past weeks. I am sure that the Japanese people (and also the rest of the world) will never forget it. Well,but how does exactly nuclear energy work, and why do we think it is so bad?
Nuclear energy is energy in the nucleus of an atom. If we want to release it, we have two ways of doing it: nuclear fissionand nuclear fusion. The first one is the way that nuclear power plants use to produce electricity. The second one is the way that, for example, the Sun uses to produce energy. Nuclear fission is morecontrollable than nuclear fusion, but it produces more waste, and it needs Uranium as fuel; Uranium is such a rare and dangerous metal. Nuclear fusion is cleaner and it doesn’t need Uranium. Theproblem is that nuclear fusion is still very uncontrollable for humans, and even though nowadays scientists have been doing such great advances and discoveries, its safety is not very reliable. In spiteof that, some nuclear power plants use it.
Nuclear power plants consist of the reactor building, the turbines building and the cooling tower. The reactor building has got the nuclear reactor, which islike a pressure vessel containing radioactive elements and some cooling water that prevents the nuclear reactor from melting. Inside the reactor building is where the fission or the fusion, dependingof which way of getting energy we want, happens. Then, in the turbines building, steam turbines receive the high-energy steam coming from the reactor building and is used to drive a generator whichfinally produces electricity. After that, the cooling tower cools down the steam to convert it into water, for using it again later in the cycle.
We think nuclear energy is bad because of catastrophesthat have happened in the past (or recently, like in Japan). Haven’t you ever thought about the other nuclear power plants that don’t have meltdowns? Most of us only remember nuclear power plants...
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