Nuclear energy is produced by harnessing the power of the atom. Nuclear energy is also called as atomic energy. Man-made nuclear power is produced in nuclear reactors. Nuclear fission is used to generate nuclear power. Scientists are currently working on ways of using nuclear fusion to generate nuclear power. Nuclear power is generated from Uranium, Thorium, etc.

Nuclear Energy & Power Plant Working Principle

Nuclear power stations work in pretty much the same way as fossil fuel-burning stations, except that a “chain reaction” inside a nuclear reactor makes the heat instead. The nuclear power reactor uses Uranium rods as fuel, and the heat is generated by nuclear fission: neutrons smash into the nucleus of the uranium atoms, which split roughly in half and release energy in the form of heat. Carbon dioxide gas or water is pumped through the reactor to take the heat away, this then heats water to make steam. The steam drives turbines which drive power generators that generates electricity.

Nuclear Energy & Power Plant Advantages

  • Nuclear reactions release a million times more energy, as compared to hydro, coal, oil or wind energy. Hence, a large amount of electricity can be generated. Nuclear reactors make use of uranium as fuel. Fission reaction of a small amount of uranium generates large amount of energy.
  • High amount of energy can be generated from a single nuclear power plant. Also, nuclear fuel is inexpensive and easier to transport.
  • The production of nuclear power does not release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and hence does not contribute to global warming.
  • The operating costs of a nuclear reactor are relatively low. It decreases dependence on pollution-causing fossil fuels. It results in a nation’s reduced dependence on the costly foreign fuel.
  • Theoretical Thorium reactors have many of the benefits of Uranium reactors while removing much of the risk for proliferation as it is impossible to get weapons-grade nuclear materials from Thorium.

Nuclear Energy & Power Plant Disadvantages & Dangers/Accidents

  • The technology used for generating nuclear power can also be used for producing nuclear weapons. Nuclear energy can be used for production and proliferation of nuclear weapons. Nuclear weapons make use of fission, fusion or combination of both reactions for destructive purposes.
  • The technology still does not exist to use nuclear power in relatively smaller devices like automobiles, household power appliances.
  • The waste products which are produced after generation of nuclear power and last for thousands of years, This is a significant polluting factor and there is the problem of safely disposing it.
  • Accidents in nuclear reactors are much more devastating than the conventional energy plants.
  • Nuclear reactors are particularly vulnerable to terrorist attacks. They are a major threat to the world as they can cause a large-scale devastation.
  • The construction cost of a nuclear reactor is high. It takes a significantly long time to construct nuclear plants.
  • At present, the reserves of uranium, a critical nuclear fuel, are limited in the world.
  • Nuclear plant workers may be exposed to high levels of radiation, which can cause cancer and other ailments.