Nuclear Energy Definition
Nuclear Energy refers to the energy released from an atom’s nucleus, either through the process of nuclear fission or nuclear fusion. Nuclear power plants harness this energy to generate electricity for homes and businesses.
Nuclear energy is the energy released from the nucleus of atoms. The compact nucleus of an atom has a tremendous amount of energy. The force that holds the nucleus together is referred to as the “strong force.” The energy is released from the atom by the process of nuclear fission. Nuclear fission is the process by which the nucleus of a heavy atom (such as uranium, plutonium, or thorium), when collided with a neutron, is split apart into lighter nuclei. Uranium is the most widely used mineral for generating nuclear energy. The place where the process of nuclear fission takes place to generate electricity is called a nuclear power plant. Nuclear energy is considered a non-renewable energy source. This is because the materials used to generate nuclear energy are exhaustible.
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Nuclear Energy Global Distribution
The world’s largest nuclear power producers are the United States, the Commonwealth of Independent States, Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Japan, and Germany.
Nuclear Energy accounts for around 9% of all energy produced in the United States. it generates 50% of all electricity in the United Kingdom, 15% in Japan, and 7% in Germany. India is the leader among emerging countries, producing 3% of its overall energy needs from nuclear power plants.
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Nuclear Energy in India
India has several nuclear power plants, with a total installed capacity of 6,780 MW. After thermal, hydroelectric, and renewable energy sources, nuclear power is India’s fourth-largest source of electricity. Nuclear energy provides 2.5% of what India needs in terms of energy. With a total installed capacity of 6780 MW, India’s 7 nuclear power stations house 22 operational nuclear reactors. India was not included in international nuclear commerce until 2009 since it had not ratified the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty because of its nuclear weapons programme. The growth of India’s civil nuclear energy programme was hampered by this.
The country has plans to expand its nuclear power capacity, with several new nuclear power plants under construction or in the planning stages.
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Nuclear Energy Advantages
There are several advantages to using nuclear energy as a source of power, including:
Nuclear power plants operate around the clock, generating consistent and reliable power, even during extreme weather conditions.
Nuclear power plants are highly efficient, converting more than 60% of the fuel’s energy into electricity, compared to other sources of energy that may only convert less than 40%.
Low emissions: Unlike traditional power sources, such as coal or natural gas, nuclear power plants do not emit harmful pollutants into the environment, making them a cleaner source of energy.
Uranium, the fuel used in nuclear reactors, is abundant and widely available, making it a readily accessible source of energy. Nuclear energy is a popular way of generating electricity to light up homes, industries, and other buildings. The production of nuclear energy does not emit greenhouse gases and pollutes the air.
It requires less nuclear fuel such as uranium, plutonium, etc. Therefore, a smaller amount of materials can produce larger amounts of energy as compared to other sources of energy like coal, petroleum, etc. Nuclear energy is not limited to providing electricity. For example, in the health sector, radiation is used to diagnose and treat diseases such as cancer. In agriculture, nuclear radiation is used to genetically modify crops.
Nuclear energy is used in medical procedures, such as cancer treatments, to destroy cancer cells.
Nuclear energy is used to heat industrial processes, such as the production of ceramics, plastics, and petrochemicals.
Nuclear energy is used in scientific research, including the study of genetics, astronomy, and geology.
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Nuclear Energy Disadvantages
Despite its many advantages, there are also several disadvantages to using nuclear energy, including:
Building and maintaining a nuclear power plant can be extremely expensive.
Nuclear power plants pose a significant safety risk, as a nuclear meltdown or accident can have serious environmental and health consequences.
Nuclear power plants produce highly radioactive waste that must be carefully managed and stored for many years.The generation of nuclear energy produces radioactive waste which is extremely toxic and harmful to the environment. There are concerns over the transportation, storage, and disposal of radioactive waste.
The technology used to generate nuclear energy can also be used to create nuclear weapons, leading to the risk of nuclear proliferation.
Materials used to generate nuclear energy are exhaustible. For example, uranium. The nuclear sector is now financially burdened by stringent rules governing maintenance, staffing levels, operator training, and plant inspections. The general public sometimes views commercial nuclear power as a dangerous or unstable process.
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Nuclear Power Plants
Some of the largest and most advanced nuclear power plants in the world include:
- Kashiwazaki-Kariwa in Japan
- Paluel in France
- Bruce Power in Canada
- Palo Verde in the United States
- Kakrapar Nuclear power Plant
- Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant
- Tarapur Power Station
- Kaiga Nuclear Power Station
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Nuclear Energy Fusion
The process of joining two or more atomic nuclei to create a heavier nucleus is known as nuclear fusion. Energy is released as a result of this process, and it can be used to produce electricity. Unlike nuclear fission, which splits atomic nuclei apart, fusion does not produce harmful radiation or radioactive waste.
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Nuclear Energy UPSC
Nuclear energy is a useful energy source that has several benefits, such as dependability, efficiency, and minimal emissions. The future’s most significant and scarce nuclear fuel, thorium, is a gift to India. It cannot afford to miss the chance to become the global energy hub, which, when combined with the largest youth population, will be India’s response to becoming the world’s most powerful economy.