How Practical Is Nuclear Power? Research Paper Example

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Research Paper

Present and Future of Nuclear Power

Today, the issues of safety and regulation are at the top and from of all discussions and debates involving nuclear power. And once again, the nuclear power is considered an important alternative, regardless of the disregard it had to face in the 1970s. This is because nuclear-power  today presented as a more environmentally useful solution because it releases far smaller quantity of greenhouse gases during the generation of electricity than coal or other conventional power plants emit. Nuclear is extensively taken as a somewhat hazardous, potentially problematic, but a controllable source of generating electricity and other useful sources. Radiation is not simply dealt with, particularly in nuclear maintenance and waste materials, and costly solutions are required to control, contain, and shield both the environment and people from its harm.

Nuclear power plants generate 20% electricity in the world. Today, more than four hundred and fifty nuclear power plants through out the world, with approximately one hundred and fifty on in the United States of America. Nuclear power is, in fact, the controlled and managed use of nuclear reactions to generate energy for heat, propulsion, and the electricity generation. The use of nuclear power at present is performed by radioactive and nuclear fission decomposition. Nuclear fission also called atomic fission is a system in nuclear physics through which the atom splits a nucleus into more than one smaller nucleus. The nuclear fission’s products comprise the two or smaller nuclei, single neutrons and energy. Nuclear fission generates the energy required for the nuclear power and to steer the nuclear weapons’ explosion. Fission is a valuable source of power since the materials utilized, known as nuclear fuels. The nuclear fuels can be utilized in a reactor of self-sustaining nature that provides the energy at controlled or managed rate or in a nuclear weapon that generates the energy at a very quick uncontrolled rate. The most ordinary nuclear fuels utilized are plutonium 239 and uranium 235.

The benefits of using uranium for nuclear power and recycling plutonium are inarguable but there are also risks involved in both processes. The major threats appear from the radiation health effects. The sub-atomic elements that radiate travel at or approximately with the velocity of light (186,000 miles per second.) They can enter deep inside the human being body where they can damage the biological cells resulting into many types of cancer, tumor and genetic problems in offspring. Such types of risks are significantly reduced; however, by laws and regulations exercised by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) because the radioactive material from the nuclear reactor core at Three-Mile  Island in 1979. They, together with the Department of Energy (DOE), are accountable for upholding the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) emission exposure standards with the help of regulation of nuclear-power  reactors and number of other radiation uses.

All local nuclear power plants should have plans of emergency that protect the general public from the exposure of radiation. In the situation of a release, or expected release, of radioactive material into the environment the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finds out at which level of exposure actions to safe the public take place. Number of other federal institutes responds to radiological emergencies same as the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the DOE, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the Department of Agriculture. Furthermore, local and state governments have major responsibility for defending the environment and public in the situation of a radiological emergency.

A concern that assists nuclear power is the continuously increasing carbon dioxide demonstration in our atmosphere. Numbers of scientists are confused that if we carry on burning the coal as our major energy source, the focus will overcome the ecosystem resulting into catastrophic damage. This is being stated that, the nuclear energy is the only verified technology that can provide the base load energy or electricity on a very large scale, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, irrespective of the weather, without producing emissions of carbon dioxide.

Nuclear power can also assist to develop an alternate fuel for the transportation, which is petroleum based in the United States of America.  It is capable in providing the hydrogen gas and heat essential for the manufacturing process of artificial oil from coal. If nuclear generated hydrogen and nuclear heat was utilized to create the oil of synthetic nature from coal, the production of oil from coal would, then be much greater. Ultimately resulting into much less Carbon Dioxide being released in the process.

Perhaps one of the greatest powers of nuclear energy, are the environmental consequences of the operation of greatest scale nuclear power plants. There are none. From all of the energy-consuming  types of power, only the nuclear energy has the very lowest influence on the environment. The reaction practiced for producing heat does not also create any type of bi-product or secondary product usually connected with the clean  act protocols. The only actual external product is surplus water that released into the environment as steam. In contrast, to a power plant that is coal burning, more radiations are released as the result of burning of coal than from a nuclear plant more than 50 years with the addition of a small leakage of energy from the nuclear plant. In addition, all of the water utilized in the nuclear plant can be recycled (at the time when an adequate heat quantity has been removed at first) either by putting back into the power plant or released back into the environment with very minimum damage occurred in the process.

At present, the United States of America burns the coal approximately about one billion tons every year in the power plants. Burning approximately one billion tons of coal to create synthetic oil, at 3 barrels of oil per ton of coal, can replace about 65% of total imported oil of America and minimize the emissions of atmospheric carbon dioxide by 30%. Gasoline that made from coal would not help to reduce carbon dioxide tailpipe radiations, the reason is that the coal would only replace such fossil oil that is being used already for transportation fuel, but it would help to decrease the initial carbon dioxide that was released from the process.

There are number of reasons why there are no definite plans to develop latest reactors of nuclear power. First amongst these, in the short term, is that many states of the United States at present have surplus base load producing capacity. Apart from this, one exception is California, by importing much of their basic needs of electricity. Like this they also efficiently discourage new production from the load power sources of typical base, nuclear or coal. As a result, in order for any latest construction of nuclear to be believed the excess volume must be worked off.

A longer-term reason why no nuclear power has been built is that the capital costs of building a new nuclear power plant have historically been high. There are also considerable financial costs and risks related to the long construction periods in the industry. The last completed nuclear reactor, Watts Bar-1, took 24 years to complete. There has also been a history of regulatory uncertainty, like the Shoreham plant on Long Island that was almost completed before it was decided that it would not be allowed to operate. All of the issues previously mentioned also negatively affect future nuclear construction.

The nuclear-power  industry and its promoters are addressing each of these issues. Prospective builders now promise lower costs, and regulatory processes are now specified and implemented early and consistently in the decision process.  Financial risk, construction periods, waste disposal, and safety are now being handled in more direct and organized manners. Difficulties with public acceptance remain but are hard to gauge.

The Energy Information Administration (EIA) in its Annual Energy Outlook 2003 (Hagen) projects in its reference case that no nuclear units will become operable between 2001 and 2025. This projection is a reference scenario that functions as a mid-term forecast under the current laws and regulations. The EIA also examined a scenario where the costs of nuclear construction were lowered to a level that some vendors say they will achieve after first of a kind engineering and financing difficulties are worked out. The Annual Energy Outlook’s conclusion under this “advanced nuclear cost case” is that additional nuclear-power  capacity would come on line if cost targets are reached.

Are the environmental concerns about current conventional energies enough to make a difference in the future of nuclear power?  Considering most of the risks and weighing them against nuclear power’s potential it is clear that the future of nuclear power is approaching sooner than anyone could have anticipated.  In addition to being reliable, cost-effective and resource-efficient, nuclear power is a clean-energy  source that helps meet the increasing energy demands of today’s technology-driven society.

References

Perin, Constance. (2010). Shouldering Risks: The Culture of Control in the Nuclear Power Industry. New York: Princeton University Press.

Lillington, John N. (2008). Future of Nuclear Power. New York: Elsevier Science & Technology Books, December 2004.

Carbon, Max W. (2008). Nuclear Power Villain or Victim. Madison: Pebble Beach Publishers.

Waltar, Alan E. (2006). America the Powerless: Facing our Nuclear Energy Dilemma. Madison, Wisconsin: Cogito Books.

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