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is nuclear power sustainable

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Nuclear image00.png


 Is it sustainable?

By Callum O’Connor 10A 1Nimage01.png


Nuclear power has not been around for very long and yet we now question its ability to provide us with what we need; Its performance is not what we are questioning but the sustainability and the environmental impact it has on the planet.  More and more nuclear power plants are being built and more and more plants that being dismantled. The money needed for both assembling and disassembling power plants is beyond extreme, can the world really continue on acting in this way.  Throughout this case study I will be looking at the benefits and drawbacks of nuclear power, the critical dates in history that led to what we now have and the dangers of nuclear power but the core issue that must be stressed, that must be recognized as a priority, is questioning if nuclear power is sustainable?image04.png


Nuclear energy explained

There are two types of nuclear power, Fission and fusion, however the process used in power plants is Fission, this involves a neutron hitting a fissionable atom (usually the isotope Uranium 235 is used) causing it to become very unstable breaking apart and releasing more neutrons which also break apart more uranium atoms which do the same, this is know as a chain reaction [1i], The diagram shows this, Control rods (far right) help to control the reaction, they stop the neutrons in their path, these rods can be extended or retracted making the reaction almost completely controlled.

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  • 1941 July - British 'Maud' Committee reports that a weapon could be made with 10 kg of Uranium-235; U.S. Academy of Sciences endorses bomb program [8].
  • 1942 May - Heisenberg and Dopel observe the first multiplication of neutrons.
    December 2 - First nuclear chain reaction at Chicago's Stagg Field by Fermi [8].
  • 1949 August 29-"If the radiance of a thousand suns were to burst at once into the sky, that would be like the splendor of the mighty one. Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds." Quatation from Robert Oppenheimer, also known as the father of the a-bomb. It was detonated in a remote region of the Ustyert Desert[9].
  • 1954-June 27The first nuclear reactor to become operational was in Obninsk just outside of Moscow [10].

Even now we are still researching nuclear power, even though we have not seen a clear picture of an atom we still dig deeper and we discover sub atomic particles; smaller particles beyond the protons and neutrons of an atom [11]. But are we researching the right thing? Maybe we should stop researching subatomic particles and instead start looking at the big picture, its sustainability.

Advantages and disadvantages

Before advantages and disadvantages can be reviewed we must first compare them with other means of power. These will include; fossil fuels, solar, wind, tidal, wave and biomass. There are other types of energy resources but these are the ones that are most relevant, I will present the data in table format then explain it in more detail.


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As time goes on more and more scientists will contribute to modern science, the atom will no longer be a mystery and we can alter it to fit our needs.  Man will continue to explore nature and the wonders of the universe, and in doing so will reveal more about how it all began and maybe how it will all end, for as Isaac Newton once said – “I do not know what I may appear to the world, but to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the sea-shore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.” [32]

Callum O’Connor 10A

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