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Energy Generation Conference ― Nuclear Power

Zain Rashid

Mechanics/Science Behind the Generation of Electricity in a Nuclear Power Plant


● Nuclear energy is produced by splitting atoms in a reactor which heats up water
turning it into steam. That steam then turns a turbine which generates electricity:
● the splitting of atoms is achieved by a process called ‘fission’
● fission is the splitting of atoms (typically uranium) by hitting atoms by neutrons
making the atoms even smaller
● in this process more neutrons are released creating ‘a chain reaction’ of splitting
atoms
● this splitting produces heat used to evaporate water
● The steam then turns a turbine creating energy through the generator
● There are also many smaller reactors used for creating isotopes for research
purposes
● Diagram of processes in a Nuclear Power Plant on page 4

Advantages:
● it emits low amounts of CO2 meaning it does not contribute to Global Warming
● high amounts of energy are generated in nuclear power plants (for a small
amount of Uranium), allowing environmental protection
● nuclear plants require many workers to operate it, which provides jobs: over
100 000 well paying jobs; this way nuclear plants help socially & economically
too
● Uranium-235 is not fully burnt up in the reactor and can be reused after
regeneration (unlike ash and slag remaining after fossil fuel combustion). With
more technology and ideas coming, a closed fuel cycle would allow for no waste
which helps the environment
● unlike solar or wind power, it is reliable, and always producing because it does
not rely on unpredictable weather patterns (such as solar, or wind)
● the cost of uranium is quite low in comparison to coal and/or oil.
Facts:
● One kilogram of 4%-enriched fuel grade uranium releases energy equivalent to
the combustion of nearly 100 tons of high grade coal or 60 tons of oil.
● Canada is the second largest importer of Uranium (22%) in the world
● Nuclear power produces 15 percent of the Canada’s energy
● currently there are 5 power plant housing 22 nuclear reactors in Canada; there are
many reactors used for research

Disadvantages:
● There is often radioactive waste left over from Nuclear plants, and must be dealt
with and kept away from people, as it can be incredibly dangerous
Side Effects:
-Skin Problems, Hair loss, sore throat, heartburn,
● For this reason the waste has to be taken care of for
● Nuclear Power plants are almost always very safe, but when something wrong
happens, it can have devastating effects (Fukushima, Chernobyl)
● For the vulnerability and disastrous effects of misuse of Nuclear plants, they can
be made a target for terrorism
● The main disadvantage of Nuclear Power is that it isn’t renewable. The energy
itself is renewable, however the power source (Uranium) is not: it’s a finite
resource on earth meaning that it isn’t renewable, however it is efficient and
clean
● Power Plants also do inflict fear upon people living near them as they know the
horrible impacts of accidents
Info on Uranium Used:
● Atomic mass of about 238
● Melting Point: 1135 C; Boiling Point: 4131 C
● Where it is found: Canada, Kazakhstan, Russia, Mexico, Australia, United
States

Ideal Application:
● Nuclear Power plants must be located in specific areas so as to keep it running,
and ensure safety:
● They are always near a river because they must have access to water, as it is
essential to keep the plant running
● They also should not be built on fault lines: This is because The Nuclear plant in
Fukushima exploded due to an earthquake that broke its coolers
● Nuclear power plant placement is not restricted to natural resources
(sunlight/windy areas) because they can produce electricity all the time

Examples of this can be shown in the disasters at Chernobyl and Fukushima:


● Chernobyl (Kiev, Ukraine, April 26, 1986):
● Was caused by a malfunctioning reactor operated incorrectly by workers
resulting in the immediate death of two, and a further 28 deaths
● The resulting radiation caused an evacuation creating a ghost town
● Fukushima (Japan, March 11, 2011)
● Cause: An earthquake and 15 meter tsunami broke the power supply causing the
cores to melt resulting in a disastrous accident

NEI. (n.d.). What Is Nuclear Energy? Retrieved from


https://www.nei.org/fundamentals/what-is-nuclear-energy
Touran, N. (n.d.). What is Nuclear Energy? Retrieved from
https://whatisnuclear.com/nuclear-energy.html
(2011, July 19). Retrieved from
https://timeforchange.org/pros-and-cons-of-nuclear-power-and-sustainability
Rosatom. (n.d.). Benefits of Nuclear Energy. Retrieved from
https://www.rosatom.ru/en/investors/benefits-of-nuclear-energy/
Cameo Corp. (n.d.). Uranium Price. Retrieved from
https://www.cameco.com/invest/markets/uranium-price
Government of Canada. (2018, August 24). Uranium and Nuclear Power Facts. Retrieved from

https://www.nrcan.gc.ca/energy/facts/uranium/20070

Uranium - Element information, properties and uses | Periodic Table. (n.d.). Retrieved from
http://www.rsc.org/periodic-table/element/92/uranium

World Nuclear Association. (2018, April 1). Chernobyl Accident 1986. Retrieved from http://www.world-
nuclear.org/information-library/safety-and-security/safety-of-plants/chernobyl-accident.aspx

(2009.0) ON Science 9, 9th Edition. Nelson, 01/2016.