In the turn of the new century, man has nearly depleted all the fossil fuels in the world and is desperately in need of a new clean and efficient energy source. A solution to this search of a new energy source is nuclear power. Nuclear power has been proven to be an amazing and powerful source of energy since World War Two however has not been efficiently brought to commercial use.
Albert Einstein first came up with the idea of nuclear energy where mass could be converted into energy through his theory of relativity. The power of nuclear technology was later demonstrated in the Manhattan project and Hiroshima with Chicago Pile-1, the first man-made reactor in 1942. In December of 1951 during the Korean War, electricity was first generated by a nuclear reactor at the EBR-I experimental station in Idaho producing up to 100kW. Later, people saw the use of nuclear technology to produce energy and nuclear power became popular. In 1954 the USSR built a nuclear power plant which generated 5 megawatts of electricity which was enough for 2000 homes, the British built the first commercial nuclear power plant in 1956 (which produced 50MW and later 200MW) and the United States followed an year later with the Shippingport Reactor in Pennsylvania. (Nuclear Power, July 27, 2007, Para 5)
Nuclear power is generated using many types of radioactive elements, the most common being uranium-238, uranium-235, and also plutonium 239. Like all conventional thermal power plants, a heat source is needed to create steam from water which turns turbines and create electricity. In one of the nuclear processes known as light water, a beam of slow neutrons is directed towards un-enriched natural uranium found which has
a chemical composition of 99.284% uranium-238 and .72% uranium-235. Since uranium-238 is relatively stable, a relatively low velocity neutron would not be able to split it but would instead bounce off and split the uranium-235 which is unstable but holds a great deal of energy. When the neutron collides with an atom of uranium-235, fission occurs and the atom is split into two different elements such as krypton or Cesium. When the atom is split, a good amount of energy is released along with neutrons which create a chain reaction by going on to split other uranium-235 atoms. The energy created from the splitting of the atoms becomes the heat source which is able to take the place of other heat sources such as coal and fossil fuels. (Nuclear Power, July 27, 2007, Para 17)
Another form of producing energy is through a process known as heavy water using a fast breeder reactor. In a heavy water reaction, natural uranium is enriched to a composition of around 10% uranium-238, and 90% uranium-235. In this kind of reaction, a much higher speed is needed for the neutron beam since the idea is to split the uranium-238 and form plutonium-239 which is able to be used again and create more energy. When a fast breeder reactor creates energy, a high...