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“If we are to meet the growing electricity demand in the United States without significantly increasing emissions of greenhouse gases, we must maintain a diverse supply of electricity, and nuclear power must must be part of that mix.” (Judy Biggert; brainyquote.com) At the current time, fourteen percent of the world’s electricity comes from nuclear power, while twenty percent of America’s electricity is generated by nuclear power. The U.S Department of Energy believes that by 2035, the United States will need to find a way to generate 24% more electricity. Some may contend that there is no perfect energy source; however scientists have found that generating power from Nuclear sources is the closest way to get energy that is environmentally friendly.
There are two types of power plants that generate atomic energy: pressurized water reactors and boiling water reactors. Nuclear reactors generate power and regulate the release of energy. Uranium fuels nuclear power, is emission free and it is an effective way of boiling water to produce steam. The steam will then turn the turbine generators. Pressurized water reactors use uranium fuel pellets to create power. One pellet produces the same amount of energy equal to one ton of coal. The pellets are then placed on each end of the fuel rods. A fuel assembly is when you have two hundred rods grouped together. The actual energy process begins when Uranium atoms split by neutrons. This process is called nuclear fission. After the neutrons are split, they can then diverge Uranium 235 atoms a chain starts which then generates heat. The heat which is produced in the reactor is relocated to two different water systems. The first system is called a primary coolant which is warmed to around six hundred degrees Fahrenheit. The second is called pressurized water reactor. Because of the large amount of pressure on the water, it can never boil. These two systems are considered closed systems. This means that the water never mixes with water found in lakes or other bodies of water. The pressurized water goes through many tubes in steam generators. The tubes are located close to the secondary coolant. The heat from the primary coolant is transported through the secondary coolant. This water will then be processed into steam. The steam is used to turn the blades of the turbine. A magnet, which is located inside the turbine, turns to produce energy. After the water is turned into steam and the turbine is turning the steam is processed back into water.
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Another type of reactor is a called a boiling water reactor. In this process water is heated by a process called fission. Fission is when Uranium atoms split and release neutrons. The excess neutrons will then split other atoms. The boiled water will then turn into steam and the steam can then turn the turbine. After the steam turns the turbine, the steam is recycled back into water. This process is called condensation.
The EPA has implemented safety systems so that the workers are safe and the environment does not sustain any damage through generating power for nuclear power plants. While working in nuclear power plants, radioactive materials are used and it can be dangerous if you are exposed to too much. If you are exposed over a long period of time, the radiation affects the human cells and you can get cancer. One safety procedure that was implemented was the ability to shut the reactor down swiftly. This process will cool the reactor down and stop the heat from increasing. This completely stops the process of fission. If someone is being exposed to too much radioactive materials then barriers will come down and block you from the elements to prevent further damage.
The EPA has ensured that the nuclear power plants would not affect the environment drastically. Nuclear energy is sixty four percent emission free. Whereas hydro power is twenty two percent emission free, and solar, wind, and geothermal are only three point five percent free from emissions. However, nuclear power requires a lot of water to complete this process successfully. Generating power from nuclear energy is environmentally safe because no greenhouse gases are emitted. The vast amount of water used for steam production and for cooling, affects the underwater animals. When the water is recycled back into lakes, and other bodies of water it is not always the same temperature as the original temperature. This raises the temperature of the water. With the temperature continuously fluctuating, it affects the aquatic animals. Another way the underwater animals are affected by the water being recycled back, is that the water is not as pure. Heavy metals and salts could contaminate the water and this can pollute the ground and surface water.
With the opening of nuclear power plants, many jobs are created. Seven hundred permanent jobs are established, which will create more economic stability nationwide. When the power plant is being constructed there are additional job openings. On average nuclear power plants produce profits of four hundred and seventy million dollars annually. Because of these high profits, they have to pay sixteen million dollars in local taxes, but also sixty seven million dollars in federal taxes. The use of nuclear power in our country increases the credibility of local and state economies through the high taxes and job creation.
“Nuclear is not only emission-free, but renewing our commitment to nuclear power will create countless jobs when our nation endures nearly double digit unemployment.” In generating nuclear power there is no burning of fossil fuels, whereas in generating power from coal there is contamination of the atmosphere. This decreases the necessity for depending on fossil fuels. Forty percent of the emissions of carbon dioxide comes from the burning of fossil fuels, which depletes the atmosphere. Nuclear emits no carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, or nitrogen oxide, which is advantageous because these elements tend to have an impact on the atmosphere. “There is no air pollution that could threaten our atmosphere by causing ground level ozone formation, smog or acid rain.” Although some people have fears about the safety of nuclear power plants, nuclear power is not only safe, but it is efficient and economically sound. It is a better alternative to the generation of power through either wind or coal, especially as the need for more electricity will only increase in the decades ahead.