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Advantages and disadvantages of nuclear energy

Nuclear energy is one of the most debated since it was discovered, since its advantages and also the disadvantages of using it are well known. Nuclear or atomic reactions occur in the nuclei of atoms and can happen in nature or they can be caused by humans. When we discovered that we could cause them, we began to use the energy they gave off to take advantage of it in different ways, especially as electricity.

However, in addition to producing highly polluting waste, there are two major disasters in history due to the loss of control in accidents related to its handling. It is also known that it produces a large part of the electricity available to you throughout the world and that it is one of the most immediate energies. If you are interested in this topic, you have come to the right place, because in AgroCorrn we tell you what are the advantages and disadvantages of nuclear energy , among other important details.

You may also be interested in: What is nuclear energy and how does it work?
Index
  1. What is nuclear or atomic energy and what is it for?
  2. How nuclear energy is obtained: uranium
  3. What are the advantages of nuclear energy by fission
  4. Disadvantages of nuclear power by fission
  5. Advantages and disadvantages of nuclear fusion

What is nuclear or atomic energy and what is it for?

What is atomic or nuclear energy is the first thing to know before starting to discuss its advantages and disadvantages. This type of energy is the one that is released when a nuclear reaction occurs, that is, it occurs in the nucleus of an atom, and it can happen spontaneously or artificially. It is a very powerful energy and, therefore, it is used for various aspects of our lives.

What is nuclear energy used for? Atomic energy is used to produce electrical, mechanical and thermal energy, which allows us to have electricity and other applications, such as in medicine and agriculture.

However, it is not only used for survival purposes, such as obtaining any of these energies, or to improve the quality of life, but it has also been used in a warlike way, during war, with some results. terrible.

How nuclear energy is obtained: uranium

For those who wonder what is the raw material for the operation of a nuclear plant, that is to say to obtain nuclear energy, the answer is uranium . This slightly radioactive metallic chemical element is known by the chemical symbol U and its atomic number is 92, since it has 92 protons and 92 electrons and, in addition, in its nucleus it has between 142 and 146 neutrons. After the use of this metallic chemical element to obtain the energy from its nucleus, residues are produced, such as plutonium , which are highly polluting and highly radioactive , much more than the original uranium.

Specifically, during the fission of the nuclei of uranium atoms, some of the released nuetrons cause these nuclei to turn into plutonium. This is especially the case with uranium-235 .

In addition, it is convenient to know the difference between fission and nuclear fusion . The first, nuclear fission, is the one used to obtain atomic energy, separating the nuclei, since it is the one that has been better managed and contained for distribution in the form of other energies. On the other hand, the second, nuclear fusion, is the one that is carried out by joining the nuclei, also producing energy, but for the moment this way of obtaining it is unfeasible.

Having clear what atomic energy is, below, we explain what are the advantages and disadvantages of nuclear power plants and the energy they produce.

What are the advantages of nuclear energy by fission

As we have already advanced before, this type of energy presents certain improvements and advances for humans. Thus, these are the main advantages of nuclear energy by fission and nuclear power plants :

Generates a large amount of electricity

The first thing that comes to mind thinking about the positive part of this issue is that a large amount of electrical energy is obtained, so that more people can access it, something very important today and, above all, in places where the weather is very cold.

In addition, a nuclear power plant is generating electricity most of the year, about 90% of it. This means that prices are not so changeable, something that does happen in the case of fossil fuels, since they depend on availability and are much closer to being exhausted.

No greenhouse gases are produced

During the obtaining of atomic energy, from nuclear power plants, no greenhouse gases are produced , such as CO2 or N2O. The whitish smoke that comes out of the chimneys of nuclear power plants is not smoke with gases, but is actually water vapor, since water is used during the fission process of the nuclei and this evaporates. Therefore, chimneys do not pollute the air.

Dependence on oil is reduced

The fact of producing more amounts of electricity and other energies, such as thermal energy, with atomic energy reduces the use of fossil fuels to obtain electricity. Something that is currently very convenient because more fossil fuels are being consumed than are being produced, therefore we are running out of reserves.

Less damaging to the environment

The production of this type of energy causes less damage to the environment, since it avoids the emission of greenhouse gases as well as the use of fossil fuels. Obviously, the damages are not zero, but in this sense they are considered minor. This, obviously, as long as a nuclear accident does not occur.

This vision is the one defended by those who are in favor of the use of this type of energy, but everything has drawbacks, as we will see below, which are used in the explanations of those who are against its use. However, it must be seen that all these arguments mentioned, positive and negative, are real. Here you can learn more about how nuclear energy affects the environment .

Disadvantages of nuclear power by fission

There are risks of nuclear energy, which have already been suffered throughout history, therefore they are not only theoretical. What are the disadvantages of a nuclear power plant and the energy it produces? What are the drawbacks of atomic or nuclear energy ? It seems to be an issue that the general public is quite clear by now, due to the various accidents that have occurred over the years, but in reality there are many people who still ask these questions, because really they still they are not familiar with this type of energy Pay attention because there are several drawbacks and, in addition, they have a great negative effect on the planet:

You don’t save as much on fossil fuels

Although it is a widely discussed argument as an advantage, the reality is that the large amount of fossil fuel and greenhouse gas production is used for transportation, not for electricity production. Therefore, not so much is saved in this sense and the materials needed for atomic energy are mostly transported to plants using fossil fuels.

Radioactive waste is produced

As we have mentioned before, part of the residues from the result of nuclear fission produce radiation, much more than uranium itself. This is the case of plutonium, which is stored in pools inside nuclear plants or in containers, in principle highly secure, to be buried deep in different areas of the planet to prevent them from contaminating the environment. These places are known as nuclear cemeteries .

They are really wastes that are very difficult to dispose of and are dangerous and, in addition, there can be toxic spills or leaks that seriously pollute the environment. Some results of such a disaster with these hazardous waste are the loss of biodiversity and the malformation of the body of growing living beings and fetuses, as well as serious health problems such as cancer.

Nuclear accidents

Nuclear accidents are rare, but they are very dangerous. Although the plants have very sophisticated safety systems, there have been accidents that have been devastating, such as Chernobyl and Fukushima. In both cases, the problem arose when an unforeseen event occurred during the fission and the people in charge made the wrong decisions or did not arrive on time. Therefore, no matter how many security systems there are, there is always the human factor, so mistakes can be made.

The Chernobyl or Chernobyl nuclear accident was the worst in history and the Fukushima nuclear accident was not as serious as the first, but it also produced great problems. In an accident of this type, a large number of kilometers around the circle are affected by radioactivity, living beings die, water and food are totally contaminated, serious diseases such as malformations and cancer, etc., also occur. Furthermore, it may take several decades to a century for the environment in this area to begin to recover well.

Nuclear weapons for war thanks to atomic energy

Another alarming disadvantage is the use of nuclear energy in the military area. The military industry made use of atomic energy by building two atomic or nuclear bombs, which were dropped by the United States of America on Japan, in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, during World War II.

The result of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs was so devastating that this was the first and only instance in which this type of energy has been used for warfare. In fact, several countries signed the well-known Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, although there will always be a risk that it will be used again.

Our dependence on uranium increases

If it is used regularly and its use is more and more widespread throughout the world, uranium will be increasingly in demand. This will imply overexploitation and will reach the point where the reserves will not be sufficient and a great dependence will appear, with prices and availability being able to vary greatly, as happens with fossil fuels.

Nuclear power plants are very expensive

Finally, nuclear plants are very expensive to build and maintain, they represent a large investment and not all countries are prepared to do so. In addition, there are countries that do not have uranium extraction sites, so they will again depend on other countries to obtain this energy.

Advantages and disadvantages of nuclear fusion

As we have mentioned, there are two ways of obtaining electrical energy thanks to atomic energy : fission and fusion . However, we only achieve it artificially through fission, that is, by separating the nuclei of the uranium atoms. Therefore, nowadays to produce electricity with this system, fissions are only carried out in nuclear power plants, thanks to nuclear reactors, and there are no fusions, although research continues and there are specialized centers to develop this technique. Therefore, this is one of the main disadvantages of nuclear fusion .

In principle, the infeasibility of this way of obtaining this energy is due to the fact that there is great difficulty in heating the gas, since very high and constant temperatures are required, as well as the fact of having to maintain a sufficient number of nuclei during the time required to obtain a higher amount of energy than was expended in the process. All this, in addition to being difficult, is a very expensive process.

Thus, at the moment, nuclear fusion cannot be applied in the generation of electricity, but it is known, observing this phenomenon and comparing it with fission, that it could offer important advantages over nuclear fission , such as the following:

  • Nuclear fusion would imply a fuel source that could hardly be depleted.
  • Chain reactions and other problems that occur in the nuclear reactor, which cause major disasters, would be avoided.
  • The waste generated in fusion is less radioactive.

If you want to read more articles similar to Advantages and disadvantages of nuclear energy , we recommend that you enter our category of Non-renewable energies .

Hello, I am a blogger specialized in environmental, health and scientific dissemination issues in general. The best way to define myself as a blogger is by reading my texts, so I encourage you to do so. Above all, if you are interested in staying up to date and reflecting on these issues, both on a practical and informative level.

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