Technology that is
associated with atomic nuclei is called nuclear technology. The nucleus is in
the middle of every atom and we are all surrounded by so many atoms. . Sometimes,
under some circumstances, the nucleus can be split into two. Albert Einstein’s
famous (E = change in energy,
M = change in mass, C = speed of light) was used to convert a certain amount of
mass into pure energy. But during the 1940’s, the people recognised its
potential to be used as a weapon. Many technological projects – including the
Manhattan Project used this energy in a chain energy to create nuclear bombs.
Nuclear Energy was also used during World War 2, when this new energy source
was used in the propellers of the submarine that could run for more than a year
Nuclear Technology has
always been controversial. An accident at a nuclear power plant can cause
severe damage such as damaging the environment, harming all living organisms
and a lot of money to clean it up. Nuclear power plants are very complex ; they have backups and there are very
few chances for an accident to occur. Accidents happen only when there are a
lot of things going wrong at the same time such as human mistake and technical
problems. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) of the United States of
America have appointed inspectors to every nuclear plant in the U.SA to
identify what and where the problems occur. Most of the results showed that it
was due to poor procedures and workers’ mistakes. The procedures are considered
poor as they are usually more than Ten years old. The main goal of most power
plants is to spin huge turbines that drive electricity generators. Nuclear
plants produce heat to make the steam and to drive the turbine. In most parts
of U.S.A., power and electricity is produced from coal and gas fired plants.
They give out a lot of excess chemicals and they can be very harmful to the
health of living organisms. Nuclear plants use nuclear fission to split atoms.
Exceptional amount of heat in the form of steam is given out so henceforth it
is an exothermic reaction. With the release of energy , nuclear fission takes
place where a large nucleus splits into two nuclei. In nuclear reactions, the mass change and
associated energy changes are significant. When nucleon combine together to
form an atom, an energy is released. The mass of the nucleus is always less
than the sum of mass of protons and neutrons individually. There is a lot of energy
required to break the nucleus into nucleons. That is the reason nuclear binding
energy is a major part involved in the process of nuclear fission. Nuclear
binding energy is the minimum amount of energy that would be required to
disassemble the nucleus of an atom into different parts. The binding energy is
always positive, as we need to spend energy in moving the neutrons away.
Breaking apart a nucleus is one of the hardest methods away. So, if the binding
energy is larger per nucleon, the nucleons are held together stronger and are
more stable. The main purpose behind all these scientific calculations is that,
nuclear power plants use nuclear fission to generate power. Most nuclear
fission reactions include Uranium-235(isotope of uranium making about 0.72%).
Nuclear power plants use Uranium -235 nucleus to undergo fission by hitting
them with neutrons.
major disadvantages of using Nuclear Power/Nuclear Technology are the
stimulating accidents that could happen at the plant and also the disposal of
the waste. Accidents that happen could release plenty of radio-active materials
into the environment as a huge cloud. Then, these materials are ingested by all
living things. The issue is not just about the ingestion of these materials.
The main one is that these particles are composed of unstable electrons that give off plenty of energy until they
become stable. Radiation can be harmless in low doses whereas if the doses are
high, it can destroy living cells and can also cause mutations. The fuel that
melts and escapes the containment, contains plutonium- an extremely radioactive
element. When plutonium is ingested through contaminated food or water, it gets
deposited in the liver and many other organs. It can emit damaged cells that
can cause cancer. Wind and water carrying this material can contaminate
vegetation and water supplies. Two major nuclear meltdowns were in Chernobyl
(Ukraine) and Fukushima (Japan). The Fukushima Dai-ichi was an energy accident
that took place in the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in Okuma in 2011.
There was a heavy earthquake that took place right before this incident. Due to
this, the active reactors automatically shut down their fission reactions.
Because of the tsunami, even the emergency generators were disabled and could
not control the cooling. The insufficient cooling led to three nuclear
meltdowns, release of radioactive materials and also hydrogen air explosions. The
other disadvantage of Nuclear Technology is the disposal of the waste. Waste in
nuclear plants come from contact with nuclear fuel in every day operations. It takes more than thousand years for high
level waste such as spent fuel to deactivate. This is a major problem because
at the moment, 70000 tons of fuel are stored in the plants itself. But the
number of advantages outnumber the disadvantages of nuclear technology.
Currently fossil fuels are consumed faster than they are produced. Lesser Uranium
is needed to produce the same amount of energy such as coal or oil and it also
helps reduce the cost. The reliability is also high compared to other
technologies. A properly functioning nuclear power plant can run upto 520 days
without interruption. The periods between refuelling has substantially
increased. And nowadays most nuclear reactors are designed to operate for more
than 40 years even though service is required once in a year. Nuclear reactors
do not emit any greenhouse gases. Even though mining, enriching and
construction of uranium involves emission of greenhouse gases, the total
emission are lower. The only high cost involved in this is the startup that
might cost around 3 billion USD, resource management does not cost a lot.
Nuclear energy is compact, it requires very little are compared to windmills
and solar panels. The maximum size required will be about 300 yards. The most
important advantage of nuclear power plants are that, they are powerful and efficient. Nuclear technology can be
used to create electricity and also weapons. Approximately, 12% of the world’s
energy is derived from nuclear fission.