Uranium | Teen Ink


May 11, 2009
By Zach Pearson BRONZE, Merriam, Kansas
Zach Pearson BRONZE, Merriam, Kansas
1 article 0 photos 0 comments


Currently, we are in an energy crisis. I will not lie; I do not believe for a second that we don’t have enough oil, seeing as we just exited a presidency whose title holder was an oil tycoon with many friends in the industry. Nevertheless, we must move forward, to find new energy sources, before the ones that cripple us being to also cripple our planet. Currently, we are beginning to use innovative technologies to try and correct the crisis that we’re in. Those innovative technologies are solar, wind, and hydroelectric power.

There is one power source that we have not seen experimented on in years. Ever since the Chernobyl accident and the Three Mile Island incident—the first true meltdown to emerge, we have been afraid that a reactor might blow up, or that nuclear fuel might fall into terrorist hands.

Uranium is falsely named under the ‘nonrenewable resource’ label. While this statement may be true to an extent, it is classified in my book under the category of lies the government has told be because:
When Uranium-238 is hit with a neutron in the reactor, it becomes Uranium-239
That Uranium-239 eventually degrades into Plutonium
Plutonium is reactor fuel
At the current moment, almost all of the Uranium-239 fuel rods that have been buried inside of Yucca Mountain are either usable plutonium or in the process of becoming usable plutonium. The reason for this is that when Uranium-239 decomposes, it becomes Neptunium-239. The process of becoming Neptunium takes about four days, from which it takes approximately one to two hours for the Neptunium to become Plutonium. From there, the Plutonium has a half-life of approximately 25,000 years. At the end of the life cycle of plutonium it becomes Uranium-235 and the process starts all over again for the last time because the U-235 degrades into Thorium, thus making reactor-grade uranium a new category: the self-renewing resource.
Before we go any further, allow me to clear up one discrepancy between the workings of nuclear reactors, and the workings of nuclear weapons: the uranium that is used in a nuclear reactor cannot, shall not, and is incapable of exploding. The reasoning for this is because nuclear bombs are fission bombs: the same thing that goes on in the bomb goes on in the reactor, but at a much more powerful pace using a much more potent uranium. The amount that goes into a nuclear reactor in a single fuel rod of Uranium is ≤5%, while the amount of Uranium that goes into a nuclear bomb is not only of a different isotope and uncontrolled, but it is ≥95%. The “nuclear sludge” and “radioactive slime” that comes out of a nuclear reactor is nonexistent. The only waste that comes out of a reactor is a used fuel rod, a different uranium isotope, and usable fuel.

The circumstances at the Chernobyl accident are tragic, and my utmost sympathy/empathy go out to the survivors and their families, however, American reactors do not have the part of the Chernobyl reactor that caused the fire in the reactor, nor do American reactors have two countries fighting for control of them.

The definition of a meltdown is just that, a meltdown. The reactor does not explode. It melts. That’s all I have for Nuclear Power at the moment. See you next time.

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