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Malaika Mehta MYP5A

Nuclear Energy: The Energy Of The Future?


Energy is very important in todays world. The current energy supply is
produced from coal, gas and oil. The demand for energy is rising and
the rate of usage is increasing day in day out because of the rising
population. As a result the
amount of resources to
provide energy are
depleting. Fossil fuels
have served us well but it
has been projected that
gas will run out in 50
years and oil in about 30
years. This dichotomy with
a rising population and
decrease in resources has
lead to the energy crisis
around the world. Change
needs to come because a
large scale of combustion
is becoming dangerous to Figure 1: amount of energy used globally from different sources in 2009
human health and fossil
fuels are becoming very difficult to find and extract because easily
recoverable fossil fuels have already been extracted in the past two
hundred years. There are two solutions to this problem, renewable
energy or nuclear power plant. Renewable energy is very expensive
and uses a lot of land. They also cannot generate enough power but
nuclear energy can produce energy at a 91% efficiency rate every day.
Unfortunately the word nuclear has become a taboo after Hiroshima.
Nuclear power uses a method called nuclear fission to make its energy.
In 1940 during the Second World War, two German chemists, Otto
Hahn and Fritz Strassmann, discovered that when neutrons irradiate
the nuclei of uranium 235 and plutonium 239, they split into two pieces
because of the instability, leading to great energy and emission of
neutrons. The energy produced is a lot and for some of it that is used,
the rest is released as heat and radiation. The energy produced from
1g of uranium is equal to energy produced by 3 tons of coal. The
energy produced can be controlled and used to generate electricity.
Now the question is weather nuclear power is the solutions to the
energy crisis or does it just pose a treat to the world? The nuclear
power controversial has been there for a long time. People for it say
that it is very clean and a lot of energy can be produced from it. On the
other end, many people are against it and their arguments are that the
disposal of nuclear waste is very dangerous to the environment and if

Malaika Mehta MYP5A


the waste is put underground, water will be affected and we wont have
drinking water. Are these statements true or just misinformation? Is
nuclear power less damaging to the earth than coal and oil? Is
radioactive waste a permanent problem with no solution? To answer
these questions, I will analyze the advantages and disadvantages of
nuclear power.

Figure 2: how is energy generated by using nuclear power plant

Advantages of Nuclear Power


Does not release green house gases
Does not pollute the environment
There is a large supple that is enough for thousands of years
Can provide electricity where renewable sources are limited
Costs to operate are low

Malaika Mehta MYP5A


Nuclear power provides
a lot of energy without
releasing green house
gasses. Nuclear power
can replace fossil fuels,
which releases
approximately one third
of the green houses
gasses, as a source of
energy. Nuclear power
currently produces
around 15% of
electricity around the
world, hence reducing
Figure 3: amount of greenhouse gas emission from different energy sources about two billion tons
of carbon dioxide
released. Nuclear power generates more energy that other energy
sources like solar plants and wind plants. Nuclear power plants
generate 2.2 million KW while solar plants produce 150000 KW and
wind plants produce 100000 KW. Nuclear power plants also require
much less land.
Disadvantages of Nuclear Power
Costs to construct and dispose are high
Takes a long time to build
Radiations released are not safe
Radioactive waste must be stored with security
Public is scared about the safety and transport of nuclear energy
Do not know how long term storage will impact the environment
Nuclear power can be a safety and security risk for the whole world. If
there is a nuclear meltdown, radiation in released into the environment
and people can suffer from radiation poisoning which can result to
sickness, bleeding or even death. Radiation also increases the risk of
cancer but it will only be visible after years. The incident in Hiroshima
has prompted fear around the world about radiation. Even though the
risks are high, mostly all nuclear power plants have harsh safety
measures and security. The waste from nuclear fuel is a big problem
because there is no simple way to dispose it. If it were disposed in the
environment, there would be a risk for thousands of years and for
every living thing on this earth. Currently nuclear water is put in dry
casks where rods are immersed in inert gas that is inside a contained
layered in steel and concrete. However these containers are up to $1
million each and they still emit radiation at low levels. This solution is
only temporary and cannot be used when nuclear power is used by the

Malaika Mehta MYP5A


whole world. There is one option to recycle the fuel by an enrichment
reprocessing method but this method has cost effectiveness issues and
still produces radioactive waste.
So Is Nuclear Energy The Future?
People must now face the reality that coal, gas and oil will not be there
forever to provide us with energy. We are so dependent on fossil fuels
that they are running out. We try to discover different alternatives for
these but the reality is that only nuclear fission technology is capable
to deliver the enormous quantities of energy we need, to run our
modernized world with minimal emission of greenhouse gasses. The
main focus for scientist should now be to convert the world electrical
energy generated from fossil fuels to nuclear fission. Nuclear energy
meets all the criteria set by the U.N. on sustainability. Renewable
energy should also be used simultaneously with nuclear energy
because if we only use nuclear energy, uranium and plutonium will run
out. Renewable energy cannot be used all the time because it is not
reliable due to the weather constraint and if we use renewable energy
only, we would not be able to produce enough for the requirements.
We should use a gradual and systematically planned way to go ahead
with nuclear energy.
References
Firstprinciplesjournal.com,. 'First Principles - Nuclear Power And
The Energy Crisis'. N.p., 2015. Web. 7 Oct. 2015.
Reidy, Kate. 'Could Nuclear Power Solve Our Energy Crisis?'.
Trinity News | Ireland's Oldest Student Paper. N.p., 2014. Web. 7
Oct. 2015.
Sciencedirect.com,. 'Why Nuclear Energy Is Sustainable And Has
To Be Part Of The Energy Mix'. N.p., 2015. Web. 7 Oct. 2015.
Figure 1: http://static2.businessinsider.com/image/4cbb2fbdcadcbb4209130000/chart.jpg
Figure 2: http://www.ucsusa.org/sites/default/files/images/2015/08/np-how-Pressurized-Water-Reactors-work.gif
Figure 3: http://cloudfront.mediamatters.org/static/images/item/ghg-energy.jpg