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The Environmental Benefits Of Utilizing Nuclear Energy Rather Than Fossil Fuel Energy

3407 words - 14 pages

The world’s largest source of emission-free energy is nuclear energy. Energy sources like solar power, wind power, and hydro electric power are also good ways to produce clean energy; however, when it comes down to it they can’t produce the capacity of energy the world needs. The two largest problems with fossil fuels are that they are running out and produce greenhouse gases when burned. Greenhouse gases are gases that absorb and emit radiation inside the atmosphere. The main greenhouse gases in earth’s atmosphere are carbon dioxide, water vapor, nitrous oxide, methane, and ozone. Ultimately greenhouse gases are a good thing because they keep the earth warm enough to have a wide variety of climates; however, when our energy sources put excess amounts of these gases into the atmosphere we speed up the process of global warming. By switching to nuclear energy we can keep our air clean, which will preserve the earth’s climate.
Nuclear or atomic energy, was originally discovered by French scientist Henri Becquerel in 1896. The two major uses of nuclear energy are as a power source and for weapons of mass destruction. The basis of nuclear energy is the splitting of an atom (the smallest particle of matter), which releases massive amounts of energy. A nuclear reactor is the device designed to start and control nuclear reactions to generate electricity. As of now, the most common type of reaction to generate energy is nuclear fission. Fission, which is the splitting of nuclei, creates more than 10 million times the energy that is created in the burning of fossil fuels. Fission reactions are able to generate electricity because they produce heat which boils water until it turns into steam. The pressurized steam then powers steam turbines, resulting in the production of electricity. The most common fuel used in fission reactors is the element Uranium (U-235) because its atoms split quite easily. The largest deposits of Uranium in the world are found in Australia. Mining Uranium is relatively cheap, and it is easy to transport to reactors around the world, making nuclear energy an inexpensive way to produce electricity when compared to traditional methods of energy production. The average cost of nuclear energy is between 3 and 5 cents per kilowatt, and this cost has dropped over the last three decades while the cost of other forms of energy has increased over the same period of time.
In the next decade nuclear power needs to become the clean and efficient way of producing electricity for the worlds major countries. As of now nuclear power produces 16% of the worlds electricity, but hopefully by 2030 that percentage will increase to around 30. (Stieglitz, par 2) Global warming is a problem the world can not take lightly, and the major cause of it is fossil fuels. 90% of the carbon dioxide pollution comes from the fuels we burn to produce electricity and provide transportation.( Stieglitz, par 2) Solar and wind energy can help provide clean...

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