Nuclear power Essay -900 Words - Essay Prowess

Nuclear power Essay -900 Words


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Nuclear power

What is nuclear power? This is electrical power generated from nuclear energy in nuclear power plants. Nuclear energy is produced through the use of Uranium which is basically a metal derived from ores mined in huge quantities in countries such as Kazakhstan, Australia and Canada which account for more than 50% of the worlds Uranium (Benduhn, 2008).

How do we get it? Nuclear power is generated in nuclear reactors which are said to work in much the same way as other types of electricity producing power plants. In conventional power plants, fossil fuels such as natural gas and coal are used to generate heat for converting water to steam which under high temperatures turn huge turbines which convert kinetic energy to electric energy (Benduhn, 2008). Nuclear power plants have within them nuclear reactors in which nuclear fission take place in reactions that produce a lot of heat which is also used to turn water into steam which under high pressure turn turbines thus producing what is referred to as nuclear power.

Nuclear reactors work using rods made up of uranium as heat generating fuel. The heat is generated as a process called nuclear fission takes place in a chain of reactions. Neutrons are directed to collide and smash directly into the nucleus that is within the Uranium atoms in the Uranium rods which are then split into two, a reaction that produces enormous amounts of energy through heat (Benduhn, 2008).

Water is usually pumped into the nuclear reactor to absorb the generated heat energy which turns water into steam. This steam is released at intense pressure to drive huge turbines which in turn provide the kinetic energy required to generate electric power (Benduhn, 2008). The types of turbines and electric power generators used in nuclear power plants are similar to those used in conventional fossil fuel power plants.

To control the chain of reactions in a nuclear reactor, control rods made up of the element Boron which has the high ability to absorb neutrons. To slow down the process that is nuclear fission, Boron rods are lowered into the reactor which in turn absorbs neutrons thus reducing the rate of nuclear fission (Benduhn, 2008). To increase the rate of nuclear fission for more power generation, the Boron rods are raised.

Elements of fission reaction:

The elements of fission reaction are basically neutrons and Uranium. Nuclear fission is a term used to define the nuclear reaction in which an atom’s nucleus is split in two to for sub atomic particles which are essentially neutrons and photons (Benduhn, 2008). The fission of Uranium which is a heavy element generates massive amounts of heat energy used for the generation of nuclear power.

  • Nuclear fission can never take place without the presence of neutrons. Neutrons are subbing atomic particles which bear no net electric charge. Neutrons are critical to the process of nuclear fission (Benduhn, 2008). Neutrons are the primary inducers of nuclear reactions. Nuclear fuel rods produce heat when neutrons bombard them and split the nucleus of the atoms within the nuclear fuel rods. When the atom’s nucleus is smashed into upon the collision with neutrons, neutrons from the atoms nucleus are emitted. This helps the nuclear reactor to have a self sustaining tendency to accommodate more nuclear reactions as the emitted neutrons continue to bombard more fuel rod atoms (Benduhn, 2008). In nuclear reactors this process is controlled with the help of control rods which serve to absorb excess neutrons.


  • This is a naturally occurring heavy metal with a significantly low rate of radioactive decay. It occurs as two different forms referred to as isotopes, Uranium-238 and Uranium-235. The later is used in nuclear fission reactors (Benduhn, 2008).


Problems with nuclear energy:  Nuclear energy is so powerful that it creates fear among the masses. It is therefore an intensely debated upon issue as the energy needs for the world’s industrial endeavours increase ever so rapidly.

  • Positive points on nuclear power. Proponents for nuclear emphasize on the efficiency of nuclear power plants citing the fact that advances in technology have resulted in less break downs and more so greatly enhanced their security (Benduhn, 2008). Evidence to support this fact is the increased willingness by governments all over the world to invest further on nuclear power.

In an effort to reduce the adverse effects of climate change, nuclear power is seen as means with which to reduce the reliance on fossil fuels thus reducing greenhouse emissions (Benduhn, 2008).

Running costs of nuclear power plants are quite low in the long term. Uranium used in nuclear power generation is also low and a truck of uranium can produce the same energy as 1000 truck of fossil fuel (Benduhn, 2008).

Nuclear waste can be safely stored underground.

  • Negative points on nuclear power

The most negative aspect of nuclear power is its safety record (Benduhn, 2008). Water bodies and water sources near nuclear plants have in recent times been found to be contaminated with radioactive materials.

The risk of nuclear accidents occurring during the entire nuclear power production process that is from mining to nuclear waste disposal (Benduhn, 2008).

Risks of exposure to radioactive substances, which may lead to health complications such as infertility, physical deformations, cancer among many other health complications (Benduhn, 2008).

The fact that there are other forms of energy which are far safer and renewable such as solar and wind power. Thus no need for condoning potentially disastrous nuclear power (Benduhn, 2008).


Benduhn, T. (2008). Nuclear power energy for today. New York: Gareth Stevens.