This explanation uses Uranium - 235, the atom most commonly used in nuclear reactors. The Uranium atom has many protons, thus making it unstable. Since the nucleus of the atom is so unstable it wants to split itself apart, causing a spontaneous fission. When the nuclei of a Uranium atom splits apart, it splits into two atoms. Commonly the nucleus splits into Barium and Krypton; however, it can split into any two atoms as long as the number of protons equals the original amount of the protons found in the Uranium.
The uranium has to be removed from the rock and concentrated.... ... middle of paper ... ...h over one hundred operational power plants that contribute to approximately one fifth of the countries electricity consumption. America is also estimated to be 3 trillion dollars in debt. With the prices to open power plants being over two billion dollars it is easy to understand why America is in debt. It seems that the only negative on a political aspect is the cost. Conclusion It is concluded that uranium is a long term sustainable power source with an equal number of positives to negatives.
Plutonium Plutonium is a radioactive metallic element. Although it is occasionally found in nature, mostly all of our plutonium is produced artificially in a lab. The official chemical symbol for plutonium is Pu, coming from its first and third letters. Its atomic number is ninety-four. Plutonium is able to maintain its solid state until very high temperatures, melting at six hundred and forty degrees Celsius, and boiling at three thousand four hundred and sixty degrees.
The only current method of disposal is to store the high-level waste until it naturally becomes nonradioactive, which can take up to a thousand years. Paying for nuclear waste storage is very expensive and costs an average nuclear power plant about 10% of the revenue that is generated. (NEI, 2013) Previous and current research has discovered an alternative nuclear fuel source known as thorium. Thorium was first studied for its potential use by the United States government for a nuclear fuel in the late 1940s; side by side with uranium. During those studies the U.S decided to shelve thorium research and pursued using uranium because it was extremely difficult to get weapon grade fissile material from thorium and the United States was in a nuclear arms race with the Soviet Union.
So, if plutonium is mostly man-made, what’s its purpose? The EPA states that most of the current quantity of plutonium was produced in special maximizing reactors for nuclear weaponry. About 100 metric tons of plutonium were produced in nearly 45 years between the 1940s and 1980s. Plutonium’s physical properties include being a silver/gray color that turns yellow when exposed to air, being solid normally, and being chemically reactive; its chemical properties include having at least 15 isotopes (all radioactive) and having a long half-life (88 years, 24,100 years, and 6,560 years for the most common isotopes). At least one isotope of plutonium gives off heat, due to its radioactivity.
There is no such thing as a “safe dose” of plutonium. While it was common to think that uranium was the most dangerous element on the periodic table a few decades ago, scientists have now discovered a more lethal element. Plutonium, Pu, element 94 on the periodic table is a transuranic radioactive chemical element; meaning it emits excess energy when it decays. Many previous studies on transuranic elements discovered uranium as the most deadly. Plutonium, recently reviewed by scientists, has also been found to emit alpha radiation, a highly hazardous type which is also emitted by Uranium.
In nature this process is irrelevant due to the low natural occurrence and densities of radioactive isotopes. During weapons construction, however, isotopes are refined and concentrated to ultra-pure forms so that fission can occur at the ... ... middle of paper ... ...can be added on. The fusion reaction can go on to start another fusion reaction and so on with unlimited yield. The most powerful weapon ever conceived was of a similar design. The Russian "Tsar Bomba" (King of Bombs) was a fission-fusion-fusion weapon with an additional fission jacket surrounding the third stage that would have produced a yield of at least 100 megatons if it were ever exploded.
These nuclei are formed with excess energy that they do not usually have in their ground state they must lose the extra energy. They release this extra energy in the form of gamma radiation or sometimes neutron emission. The primary fragments are rich in neutrons and are radioactive. Uranium-235 which contains 92 protons and 143 neutrons are more likely to under go fission when bombarded by low-energy neutrons. (Hansen, 1993) Nuclear Fission Used in Bombs The fission process was discovered in the late
This is an unfounded worry, as many reasons prove. In fact, the Yucca Mountains provide an ideal site for a permanent underground nuclear waste facility in the U.S. While the Yucca Mountains are the best site we have found as of yet, this procedure will cost a huge amount of taxpayer dollars. The Department of Energy (DOE) estimates the total cost of its high-level waste management program at $25-35 billion. Completing the scientific investigation and licensing of the Yucca Mountain site is expected to cost $6-7 billion alone.
Fusion, on the other hand, uses isotopes of hydrogen atoms, specifically deuterium and tritium, that can be obtained from ordinary water. Uranium ores occur naturally in many parts of the world but must go through a costly purification process before used as fuel. The unprocessed ore contains approximately 99.3% uranium-238, a non-fissionable isotope of uranium, and only about 0.7% of U-235 required for fission. One hydrogen atom out of 6700 appears as deuterium, a naturally occurring isotope of hydrogen with an extra neutron, and can easily be separated from the rest. Uranium-235 is a non-renewable resource that will eventually run out, much like the fossil fuels.