Just Nuke It

December 4, 2009
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According to science coal and oil are going to be depleted within 300 years. So we must invest in alternative fuels for the long run. Harvesting the sun’s energy by utilizing solar panels takes massive amounts of space and time with little energy, wind turbines are huge machines that are costly to produce and maintain, and geothermal can only power the places near the thermal vent. So what clean source of energy that isn’t costly and doesn’t take up land we can use? Well, we could split atoms.

When most people hear the word ‘nuclear’ they think of Hiroshima, Chernobyl, and among other things, the ‘Cold War’. But in reality, the belief that nuclear power is giant explosions in Nevada is very false. To put it into perspective try to imagine an airplane and a car. A car has an average speed that is likely 50 mph, while an airplane has a cruising speed of nearly 600 mph. When a car crashes usually no one is killed. When a plane crashes the majority of passengers may sustain extreme or fatal injury. But the major difference is that a plane crash is almost 99.99% less likely to crash than any automobile making the plane a safer and faster way to commute.

Most anti-nuclear protests are born of ignorance. As stated above people are unaware as to the inner workings of these reactors and simply think they were designed solely to explode and leak deadly amounts of radiation that deform babies and cause cancer. What these uneducated protesters don’t realize though is that the actual word, ‘nuclear’, refers to atoms, not radiation. Also when the protesters say they like solar power they don’t realize that the sun itself is one big ‘NUCLEAR’ fusion generator. So when you think about it since the sun is the start of most food chains it’s what keeps life on Earth alive, thus we are all kept alive by nuclear energy!

A nuclear fission reactor essentially works by taking the unusually large atoms in plutonium or uranium, and then colliding them with high speed neutrons to effectively knock off the atom’s electrons and things. This splitting of the atom creates large amounts of energy in the form of heat and radiation. The reactor then harnesses the heat energy to transform water into steam. This high energy steam is then used to turn a steam turbine. The steam turbine then rotates magnets in a magnetic field to create electricity, or in the case of large boats it directly spins a propeller.

People naturally assume that the massive amounts of gas coming out of the nuclear reactors are toxic Co2, but really it’s only water vapor. A fission generator’s only bi-product is spent uranium and plutonium. Even this waste can be recycled into new fuel a couple of times. A nuclear reactor is generally near a body of water and it needs little fuel to produce energy. So the only thing a reactor needs transported is fuel and food, whereas a coal or oil plant need literally need train loads of fuel to operate daily. Solar plants need constant maintenance and replacement parts, wind turbines are similar, and geothermal plants are, as stated earlier, impractical for most power grids.

Overall, I believe nuclear power is the future of our power, our world, our lives. To throw away an opportunity for almost unlimited clean power because in the past we’ve used it for warfare is completely and utterly dumb in every sense of the word.

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KyleECronin said...
Dec. 14, 2009 at 1:24 am
GREAT article. Thanks for providing an insightful and intelligent look into nuclear power.
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