Nuclear Energy

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Nuclear Energy One of the key factors needed to continue human progress is an energy source that is not only adequate but plentiful and unharmful to our environment. These requirements are very difficult to meet. As of right now, most of our energy comes from the combustion of coal, oil and natural gas. “They will last quite a while but will probably run out or become harmful in tens to hundreds of years.”(Source 2) The effects they have on the environment are also an issue. Many scientists are searching for other forms of energy. Nonreplicable energy sources such as solar energy are being explored; however, these methods are not highly developed and are very expensive. Nuclear energy, therefore, appears to be the best alternative since it is cheaper and because it doesn't emit carbon dioxide into the atmosphere like the combustion of the fossil fuels do. Nuclear energy comes from the fission of uranium, plutonium, or thorium or the fusion of hydrogen into helium. “Fission is defined as the splitting of atomic nuclei spontaneously or because of the absorption of a nucleus.” (Source 1) It produces radioactivity in the form of heat, smaller nuclei, and neutrons. Fusion is just the opposite. It is the coming together of two atomic nuclei. Most power plants today used the fission of enriched uranium to produce nuclear energy using a reactor. Nuclear energy is a very important energy source to the United States. It is inexpensive and is gaining ground as the main energy resource replacement to the fossil fuels. Today twenty percent of the electricity in the United States comes from 109 licensed power reactors in the United States. Why not just completely switch over to nucl... ... middle of paper ... ...ty of the process. Small accidents can lead to huge problems. For example, a small explosion can lead to increased cases of cancer over a very large area. Also, they question if the process is truly cheaper. If the plants were made safer, would it still be cheaper? Or will the costs of safeguarding the plant raise the cost? The disposal of nuclear waste is also an issue that must be figured out before one can decide if nuclear energy truly is the next best alternative. My opinion is that we should study non-dispensable energy resources such as solar and figure out how to make it less expensive and develop it so that we can use it to its fullest potential. Works Cited Class Notes http://www-formal.stanford.edu/jmc/progress/nuclear-faq.html http://members.iinet.net.au/~hydros/nuclear/nuclear_energy.htm http://www.ecolo.org/

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