Nuclear energy is a powerful source of energy compared to other conventional fuels. All crude oil based fuels derive their energy from oxidation, which is a change in the energy levels of electrons outside the nucleus. However, nuclear energy derives power from changes in the nuclear energy levels of the atomic nucleus! Tremendous energy lies locked up inside a radioactive nucleus and nuclear fission is a way of tapping this energy. Nuclear power plants derive energy from controlled nuclear fission reactions.
This article discusses the pros and cons of using nuclear energy. Every powerful source of energy discovered by man, comes at a price. Nuclear energy comes with its share of risks and hazards. This article discusses nuclear energy pros and cons. It explore both sides of nuclear energy, that is its upside and downside. The pros and cons of nuclear energy use, need to be put in front of our policy makers in the government. Read on, to know and understand the price we must pay for nuclear energy to work and the benefits it offers over conventional energy resources.
Nuclear Energy: Pros Here are some advantages of using nuclear energy over other conventional energy sources. Phenomenal Energy Output Among the pros and cons of nuclear energy, this is the most important pro point. The energy produced in nuclear fission of fissionable material like Uranium-235, is 10 million times the energy obtained by burning same mass of coal! There are many uses of nuclear energy. The heat derived can be driven to power multitude of applications.
If you are interested in knowing how such a phemomenal energy output is made possible, read, ‘How does a Nuclear Power Plant Work? ‘ Low Emission Levels Nuclear fission leads to almost zero green house gas emission. So compared to conventional energy sources, nuclear fission is very clean! Reliable Energy Source Nuclear energy is a comparatively reliable energy resource, unaffected by strikes and shortages around the world, as very little is required at a time and its well distributed around the world. Nuclear Energy: Cons
Here are some points which illuminate the downside of nuclear energy use. Nuclear Meltdowns and Disasters A nuclear meltdown occurs when there is an acute shortage of coolant water in the nuclear reactor. This can lead to disastrous consequences, causing a reactor equipment meltdown, exposing the world to high dosages of radioactivity. The Chernobyl disaster which killed thousands, remains a blot on the history of nuclear energy. For more information on this, read “Nuclear Power Plant Disasters”. There is a risk of such a disaster occurring and destroying everything in its wake.
The designing and maintenance of nuclear reactors is crucial in avoiding such disasters. Radioactive Exposure The danger of radioactive exposure during mining and extraction of uranium like radioactive ores, looms in developing countries. The radioactive rubble and debris left after mining, if not properly disposed, can lead to several diseases like cancer and mutation. For more information on radioactive exposure hazards, read ‘effects of nuclear radiation’. Radioactive Waste Disposal Problems The safe disposal of radioactive waste is a major problem.
Fission of a material like Uranium leaves by products, which are themselves radioactive and highly harmful to the environment. Radioactivity cannot be turned off and therefore there is no way but to bury radioactive waste, without leading to extra complications arising out of it. A Catalyst for Nuclear Weapons Proliferation Often, nuclear breeder reactor programs are smoke screen for the development of nuclear weapons. There is no guarantee that fissionable nuclear fuel supplied to a country will not be used to produce weapons of mass destruction like atomic bombs and hydrogen bombs!
If this technology falls in the wrong hands, like fundamentalist and terrorist groups, can spell disaster for the world. So there is a considerable risk in promoting the use of technology, which makes nuclear energy possible. This compilation of pros and cons about nuclear energy will give you an idea about the measure of risk involved in nuclear energy production. I have tried to be as unbiased as possible, while discussing nuclear energy pros and cons here. There are risks involved as one can see. For more information read, ‘Advantages and disadvantages of nuclear power’.
What I personally think is that nuclear energy should be an energy option, but shouldn’t be the only one we are relying on for the future. After all, it is not a renewable energy resource and like crude oil, uranium like radioactive fuel sources will be exhausted one day. So nuclear energy is not a permanent solution to the energy problem but a temporary and inevitable one at best. The long term solution lies in developing technology based on renewable energy sources like wind energy, tidal energy and solar energy. Hope the discussion of nuclear energy pros and cons here has put things in perspective for you.