The definition of nuclear energy is, simply, energy which is released through the process of splitting an atom’s nucleus, known as “fission.” A second type of nuclear energy potential exists, though it is currently a less refined process. This second type, called “fusion,” involves joining two atoms.
At the time of one of the two physical reactions, the atoms experience a loss of mass, albeit only slight. This loss of mass becomes heat energy, discovered first by Albert Einstein with his famous “E = mc2” equation.
Nuclear energy is usually referred to in the context of generating electricity, by using reactions to create power. What should be remembered is that even though that electricity production is a common application, it is possible for nuclear power to be used in many other sectors, including: environmental resources, medical technology, and war and maritime technology. Like most things, there are pros and cons of nuclear energy.
The origin of nuclear energy comes from the discovery of uranium atoms’ splitting, a process called fission. At a nuclear power plant, this reaction is exploited by using the steam from the process to move a turbine, wherein electricity is produced.
Nuclear energy uses fuel that is made from processed uranium, which must be mined before in order to make it steam, and then electricity is generated.
Nuclear energy is, to date, the only electricity source that is able to produce large power, known as base load power, without emitting greenhouse gasses. In this sense, nuclear energy has one of the lowest impacts on the environment, and on natural resources of any source of electricity.
How It Works
The pressure of the steam turns a generator, which produces electricity. In other power plants, such as ones based on oil, coal, or natural gas, these elements are burned for generating the heat in a similar fashion. In the facility of a nuclear energy, heat is produced from the atom’s splitting, which is known as fission. First, the reactor creates heat, which produces steam, and then the steam turns a turbine that is connected to an electromagnet, or a generator. After that, the electricity itself is produced by the generator.
One particular nuclear reactor of note, located in the United Arab Emirates, is known as a ‘pressurized water reactor.’ In this plant, the water in the reactor vessel is prevented from boiling by the high pressure in the reactor vessel. The super heated water is carried to a generator of steam through a large amount of small pipes. In the pipes, the heat is used is used for turning an isolated, second water supply to steam. This is in turn is used for turbine driving. The water is pumped back from the reactor into the reactor vessel and then reheated. The turbine has steam that is cooled in a condenser. The result is that water is sent back to the steam generator.