Advantages and Disadvantages of Nuclear Energy
How ready are we to accept nuclear energy as the ultimate and cleanest source of energy? Is nuclear energy really what we heard of? The electric energy is produced by over 104 commercial nuclear power plants in the US alone. These power plants generate about 806.2 TWh electricity to overcome the country’s electricity demands. How good or bad is this form of energy really? Let's dig down the Advantages and disadvantages of nuclear energy and what is expected from it in the future.
Debates go on around the nuclear energy, uses, and its harms go neck-a-neck as the massive power source is both potent and a viable risk. Atomic power plants carrying out nuclear reactions are more feasible options than burning coal and produce electricity; that is just not the only benefit of atomic energy.Uses of Nuclear Energy are:
- Pest Control
- Consumer Products
- Industrial Use
- Medicine and Healthcare
- Carbon Dating
- Fuelling for Submarines
Nuclear energy facts:
Nuclear energy comes from tiny atoms; this is why it is also known as atomic energy. The method of splitting atoms, also known as fission takes place inside a closed and protected system known as the reactor. This process of breaking atoms in a reactor to heat water into steam, turn a turbine, and generate electricity.
Nuclear reactors use Uranium as a fuel, which is a non-fossil fuel and has no emissions. The nucleus of Uranium atom further splits into two smaller atoms based on the principle of Einstein's Formula, E = mc², that theoretically means mass converting into the energy. The process of fission turns Uranium matter into massive energy, thus is called Nuclear energy.
The Advantages Nuclear Energy
Even one atom can help produce a massive amount of energy through a nuclear reaction. No doubt, this energy has many applications apart from just generating electricity. Here are other Advantages Nuclear Energy that make it a safe and sustainable fuel and energy option.
1 Less Expensive
The World Nuclear Association reported that less amount of Uranium is required to generate the same amount of electricity as by burning the coal. The initial set up of a nuclear power plant needs investment and then can be utilized to supply clean fuel as well. This makes nuclear energy a cost-competitive option and pollution-free option.
2. No Emissions
Nuclear energy is clean and leaves no carbon footprints. The fission reaction is carried out inside thick walls of a reactor and turns mass into usable energy that ensures no leftovers or greenhouse gases. It can’t be said that nuclear reaction emits zero Carbon Di-Oxide, though the amount of carbon dioxide is relatively small and is harmless to the environment.
3. Nuclear Energy is Reliable
Nuclear energy is reliable, and a nuclear reactor can operate for years without requiring any refueling. Electricity is produced for uninterrupted use and can be utilized without depending on external conditions or weather.
4. Low Fuel Cost
No refueling results in the least fuel costs since there will be no overhead expenses for mining, transportation, and other operations for a year or two. A nuclear power plant operates for years and can produce Terrawatts-hours of electricity for better use.
5. Nuclear Energy is Ozone Friendly
No greenhouse gases are emitted during the nuclear fission that further ensures no harm to the ozone layer. Atomic energy may not be the renewable source of energy, but it doesn’t add to climatic concerns like coal and petroleum.
6. Nuclear Energy has High Density
The nuclear energy has a higher density as studies have found that energy produced in nuclear fission is ten million times greater than the amount of energy released by burning fossil fuel atom. This also gives us more to focus on the alternatives of Uranium since a little of Uranium is used during the nuclear fission.
The Disadvantages of Nuclear Energy
While there are many benefits of nuclear energy, there are also some downsides and disadvantages of Nuclear Energy, which may be adverse and centuries long.
1. Misuse of Energy
The source of immense energy can be dangerous if taken into hands by the unlawful people. This is why countries with Uranium reserves tighten the security around the mining areas because of the hazards of Nuclear energy on the humankind. Many countries have developed nuclear weapons to ensure their own safety. But this may also increases the risk of falling nuclear technology into the wrong hands.
2. Accidental Risks
Radioactive waste poses a threat to the environment as well as for humans. History of nuclear disasters is evident in what damage atomic energy can do that can last for centuries. Even after years, radioactive material remains dangerous after an accident. Chernobyl in 1986 and Japan nuclear crisis in 2011 tell the rest of the story.
3. Disposal Radioactive Waste
Nuclear waste is both highly and slightly radioactive that if not disposed of properly, can lead to potential damage to the ecosystem affecting the marine and earthly life. Radioactivity damages the cells and destroys the molecular structure, which causes permanent disfiguration or embryo damage.
4. Pollutants Can Last Longer
Nuclear waste, including used rods and equipment, can stay polluted and cannot be reused. They are highly dangerous for the environment and living creatures. Even the water used as a coolant for the rods can stay radio-active, which, if leaks into other water sources, can pose a threat to aquatic life.
5. Nuclear Reactors degrade the land
The nuclear reactor takes up space for set up and a substantial investment. Even after a reactor is dismantled after use, the land remains devalued and can contaminate the surrounding life further. Even after shutting down a nuclear reactor, land space remains unfit for living beings.