Nuclear Power: Dirty, Dangerous and Expensive Essay

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The energy industry is beginning to change. In today’s modern world, governments across the globe are shifting their focuses from traditional sources of power, like the burning coal and oil, to the more complex and scientific nuclear power supply. This relatively new system uses powerful fuel sources and produces little to no emissions while outputting enough energy to fulfill the world’s power needs (Community Science, n.d.). But while nuclear power seems to be a perfect energy source, no power production system is without faults, and nuclear reactors are no exception, with their flaws manifesting in the form of safety. Nuclear reactors employ complex systems involving pressure and heat. If any of these systems dysfunctions, the reactor …show more content…
The most common source of fuel for reactors is Uranium – 235, a stable isotope of Uranium that is processed into small pellets with a diameter of less than one inch. The pellets are placed end-to-end in 12 foot tubes called fuel rods (World Nuclear, 2012). For energy to be released, a processes known as fission must occur. Nuclear fission takes place when a nucleus either becomes too large or gains too many neutrons, thus producing an unstable atomic proton to neutron ratio and placing the atom’s nucleus outside of the band of stability [a graphed relationship between protons and neutrons that shows which nuclei are stable and will not decay] (World Nuclear, 2012).

(UC Davis, n.d.)
Once one of these events has transpired, making the nucleus unstable, the atom will split into two different atoms and will release neutrons to stabilize itself. Because the atom splits when it becomes too large and releases neutrons as it decays, the atom is considered to be radioactive, and the fission process is known as radioactive decay. In the case of a nuclear reactor, neutrons are shot at the fuel rods containing U-235, and when they are absorbed by the uranium atoms a new, unstable isotope, U-236, is created. But the U-236 does not last for long; it quickly undergoes fission and splits into two different elements of smaller masses and releases two neutrons to raise the proton to neutron ratio of the products. Nuclear reactions are also known for releasing large amounts
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