Source: Image by Markus Distelrath from Pixabay
As an energy source, it guarantees a steady supply of electricity. Nuclear energy is clean, reduces CO2 pollution, diminishes the dependence on external energy generators, and constantly produces electricity. This is why increasing numbers of countries are reportedly asking to operate nuclear plants for 60 years and 80 years – as in the case of the US – and the building of new power plants. Nuclear energy is clean, and together with wind and solar, it is part of one of the green sources of energy.
Nuclear energy is clean, but we are all well aware of the horrors that nuclear power can create. We all remember how nuclear energy generated terrible effects in war. It had terrible effects in Chernobyl because of a human mistake, and in Fukushima because of a natural crash. With time, the creation of safer and more efficient nuclear reactors has been achieved with new technologies.
Nuclear power is tricky, it’s both a non-renewable and a green source of energy. Nuclear power is clean because it’s a sustainable energy source that reduces carbon emissions and reduces reliance on oil and fossil fuels. Is, indeed, the third-largest electricity green source of energy in the states. It accounts for 19,7% of the market share itself. Here are three things you should all know about nuclear energy.
1. What’s the history?
As George Santayana said back in the days, “those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”. Nuclear energy is clean but its history is not one to joke about. To better understand it we can divide it into three very distinctive moments:
- Behind the atom
The name nuclear refers to the “nucleus”. Specifically, it refers to the nucleus of an atom, so sometimes you can listen to it being called atomic energy. We know that nuclear energy is clean, but what is behind it? What is an atom? Throughout history, various scientists have made their research and progress. In this article, we will not go into studying them all, but we list the most important discoveries:
- Uranium was first discovered in 1789 – yes, the same year as the French revolution – by Martin Klaproth and was named after the planet Uranus.
- More than 100 years later, in 1986, Henri Becquerel, a French scientist discovered by chance that pitchblende caused a photographic plate to darken, later considered x-rays. Later that year, Pierre and Marie Curie discovered radioactivity. Marie and Pierre Curie’s investigations with uranium ore lead to the discovery of other, thus far unknown, and even more radiant substances, including radium.
- In 1905, Albert Einstein published his equation that related mass and energy, as a part of his theory of relativity. With it, he unveiled that a small amount of mass equals huge amounts of energy. More than 30 years later, he sent a letter to then-president Roosevelt, in which, he warned him about the soon-to-be developed atomic bomb by Germany. This led to the development of the Manhattan Project.
- The atomic bomb and Manhattan Project
In the years preceding World War II (1939-1945), nuclear energy was thought to be used to produce a new type of bomb. German experts used previous radioactive research as a means of discovering nuclear fission, which consists in the splitting of the nucleus and thus the generation of a great deal of energy.
As soon as Roosevelt received the letter from Einstein, he established the “Uranium Committee” as a way of link the government and the scientists. In 1941, after the attack of Pearl Harbour, the States entered WWII. These were the first steps to the Manhattan Project, which was a research and development project carried out during WWII. It was led by the US and had the support of allies countries such as Great Britain and Canada.
The first-ever nuclear reactor was known as the Chicago Pile (CP-1) built-in 1942. In 1945, the results of all that research gave birth. The first-ever deployed atomic bomb in history occurred on July 16th, at 5:30 am. The Trinity test was an amazing accomplishment. The explosion with the typical mushroom cloud surpassed every expectation.
What happened after is history. As a result of the Manhattan Project, two bombs were made, Uranium and Plutonium. Both bombs were dropped on Japan, which finally accepted the surrender, and World War II ended. The first, called Little Boy, consisted of two masses of uranium-235 that were projected one on top of the other with conventional explosives. The second, Fat Man, consisted of a hollow sphere of plutonium that collapsed on its center by the action of conventional explosives.
- Nuclear Energy
We’ve heard already that nuclear energy is clean. In 1951, the first experimental reactor was built in Idaho, and it produced nuclear energy for the first time. The first nuclear central plant was built by the URSS in 1952, followed by one in UK and France. It was not until 1960 that the first nuclear plant started to work. Since then, based on data from the World Nuclear Association, more than 441 reactors have been built and around 10% of the world’s energy is generated by nuclear means.
The history of nuclear energy is very interesting. If you have some spare time feel free to check out this video by Geo History:
2. It’s very reliable
The recent news where Texas was frozen shows that it is mistaken that only wind and solar power are needed. Texas’s infrastructure capacity was swept away by the snowstorm, forcing such installations to close. Nuclear energy is clean and it is also reliable. Extreme weather damages many forms of energy, but not nuclear because for months or years a reactor can function without a fuel change.
3. Nuclear Energy is Clean
When you hear the words “clean energy” you probably think about solar panels and huge wind turbines right? Well, contrary to what most people think, nuclear energy is clean energy. It is indeed the second-largest source of low-carbon energy behind hydropower in the world. Nuclear energy is clean, but it is often excluded from the “clean energy” conversation.
Nuclear energy is clean, it is a zero-emission energy source. According to data from the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI), the US has avoided more than 476 million metric tons of CO2. Also, nuclear energy is clean, it generates large quantities of carbon-free electricity in less land than any other clean-air source. NEI says that wind farms require a 360 times higher amount of land to produce the same amount of power and 75 times as many solar plants.
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Ps. We also have a full article with our top 5 saving tips to spend less on electricity this summer.