What is nuclear energy?
Nuclear energy is a means to produce heat and generate electricity.
What is the difference between burning (combustion) and nuclear?
Chemical processes such as the burning of coal liberate heat. Burning (oxidation) occurs when the weaker outside forces in atoms (electrons) act as as glue binding atoms together to form new substances such as CO2 and H2O, from the carbon and hydrogen in the fuel, to oxygen from the air.
Nuclear does not depend on chemical processes such as burning. Instead, the much more powerful binding forces among the very much larger particles in the nucleus (center) of heavy (uranium or plutonium) atoms are liberated (by splitting these into smaller groups, hence, the term “fission”) to produce heat energy.
This heat is then harnessed and used just as the heat from burning wood or fuel is used to generate electricity.
Since as stated, these “nuclear” forces are much stronger than “chemical” forces, the liberated heat using nuclear is so much greater in magnitude (by many orders) than from a comparable weight of material (fuel).
The consequence of this natural process and the reality that man knows how to capture and harness it results in: the promise and magic of nuclear energy. Which is, that so much energy can be produced from such a tiny amount of nuclear fuel. Meaning, that no longer do we need billions of tons of both fossil fuel and toxic waste products to produce electricity. It implies and in fact results in nuke energy being the cleanest and cheapest power source available to humankind.
How does nuclear energy compare to other power sources?
A single uranium fuel pellet the size of a pencil eraser contains the same amount of energy as 17,000 cubic feet of natural gas, 1,780 pounds of coal or 149 gallons of oil. (Source:www.nei.org)
Does nuclear energy produce greenhouse gases?
There are no emissions of carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide during the production of electricity at nuclear energy facilities. Nuclear energy is the only clean-air source of energy that produces electricity 24 hours a day, every day. (Source:www.nei.org)
Is nuclear energy considered a renewable energy source?
A renewable energy source uses an essentially limitless supply of fuel, whether wind, the sun or water. Nuclear energy is often called a sustainable energy source, because there is enough uranium in the world to fuel reactors for 100 years or more. (Source:www.nei.org)
Do nuclear energy facilities require large areas of land?
Compared to other non-emitting sources, nuclear energy facilities are relatively compact. The amount of electricity produced by a multi-reactor nuclear power plant would require about 45 square miles of photovoltaic panels or about 260 square miles of wind turbines. (Source:www.nei.org)