What is Nuclear Energy?
It is one that is generated by a process in which the atoms of a material called uranium disintegrate. The energy that uranium releases when its atoms decay produces heat that boils the water found in nuclear reactors. When it boils, the water generates steam with which the turbines move inside the reactors, producing electricity.
Where does nuclear energy come from?
We have to refer to Einstein and his famous equation E = mc2 (energy equal to mass times the speed of light squared). Simplifying the process and making it more understandable, we could say that the key is the disintegration of atoms. An atom is made up of a central nucleus with connected protons (with positive energy) and neutrons (without charge), around which the electrons orbit (with negative energy).
Well, the disintegration of an atom is achieved by releasing the energy of its nucleus so heavy that it is possible to literally bombard it with neutrons, so it breaks down into two light nuclei and the so-called fission process generates energy. In the fission, two or three neutrons are emitted that can continue interacting with other nuclei reproducing the same process. It is what is commonly known as a “chain reaction.” Explained in this way, one can think of an uncontrollable and therefore dangerous chain reaction. The heart of the matter and the basic principle of a nuclear reactor lies in the control that only one of the released neutrons produces subsequent fission. If the neutrons do not continue, the reaction is lost, and if there are more than two, control is lost and the nuclear explosion occurs.
Advantages of nuclear energy
Ensures the electrical supply
Nuclear power is the energy source that works the longest hours a year. They are available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, thus guaranteeing the supply of electricity. Other energy sources, such as wind or solar, lack the security of supply when exposed to weather conditions.
It is a clean energy and does not generate CO2
Nuclear energy does not emit polluting gases or particles into the atmosphere, a key advantage in containing climate change. It does not use fossil fuels, so it does not emit carbon dioxide (CO2), the main greenhouse gas. A third of the energy generated in Europe comes from atomic energy, which prevents the emission of 700 million tons of CO2, in addition to generating the leakage of 200 million vehicles and other pollutants generated by the burning of fuels. Fossil
It is one of the cheapest sources of electricity production
According to the Spanish Nuclear Forum, 32.3 kilograms of uranium have an energy equivalent to 100,000 tons of coal. The weight of the uranium raw material is small in relation to the total cost of electricity production and its price is stable, obtaining the kilowatt-hour (kWh) at reasonable costs.
Nuclear power plant discharges abroad are minimal
Most of them are expelled in gaseous form from the chimney of the plant (air with very little radioactivity), and in liquid form through the discharge channel. Due to their low polluting power, nuclear power plants reduce acid rain and the accumulation of toxic waste in the environment.
They generate employment
Nuclear power plants, like other electrical installations, generate employment and wealth in their area of influence. An estimated 500 people work at each reactor. In total, the Spanish nuclear sector employs around 30,000 people in direct and indirect positions.
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