Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Nuclear Nonsense

When you hear "nuclear energy" what comes to mind? Is it The Simpsons with bald-headed Homer sleeping in a control room and hitting a reactor meltdown button? Is it the damage caused in Japan at Fukushima? Like most things, the only things portrayed in the media are the worst outcomes and never the benefits.

Let's start by telling you what nuclear power actually is. By utilizing radioactive materials, nuclear fission can be used to create heat.

Courtesy of Google: Picture of Nuclear Fission

This heat is used to boil water in a Water Boiler (catchy name right?). As the water evaporates the steam, is is lifted and turns a set of Turbines, which power generators, which produce electricity!

Nuclear power plants provide 6% of the world's energy, 14% of the world's electricity, and one single power plant, Diablo Canyon, provides 10% of all electrical power in the state of California. Nuclear energy reduces carbon emissions and provides virtually no air pollution, such as the smog and greenhouse gases caused by fossil fuels.

Also, did you know that in working at a nuclear plant, there is less exposure than there is in other everyday situations?
  1. If you fly for business, you get more of a radiological dose from flying than you would from being at a nuclear plant.
  2. You get a higher radiation dose having your teeth x-rayed than by being at a nuclear plant.
  3. If you use a microwave constantly, you get more of a radiation dose than you would at a nuclear plant.
France gets 75% of it's power from Nuclear plants. 75%! That means less emissions, cleaner air, and a reliable source of power! Nuclear is a low cost means of creating electricity, and by creating so much of it, is able to sell much of it to neighboring countries while maintaining the lowest electricity costs to it's citizens in all of Europe.

Is nuclear power actually scary? It can be if not properly maintained, monitored, and made sure to handle the most extreme situations. To me, it just feels like a small bit of nuclear nonsense.

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