The process used was to gather information from books, the Internet, and interviewing my father who works at a nuclear power plant.
There are many forms of energy. Coal, gas, oil, and nuclear power are the most common forms of energy used in the United States. Three of these energies are limited: coal, gas, and oil. Nuclear power is unlike the other three because it uses the fission process instead of combustion. This form of power is unlimited. It produces heat energy like the others, but does not produce Carbon Dioxide and other particulate emissions.
Nuclear Power is made by Nuclear Fission. To create fission you must split a nucleus (usually Uranium) with a neutron. This starts a chain reaction that continues endlessly. In the reaction the splitting creates energy, as the energy bonds that tie the sub-atomic particles (protons, neutrons and electrons) together are broken. Only a small amount of energy is released by each fission, but billions of fissions are occurring, adding up to a lot of heat energy. This is a very powerful energy that makes up 20% of electricity generation in the US.
A byproduct of Nuclear Power is Radiation. There are three types of radiation. One is called Gamma Rays. It is very dangerous to your skin and organs. Gamma Rays can be stopped by several feet of concrete and a few inches of lead. To reduce the harm exposure to Gamma radiation can do, people use distance, shielding, and minimize time exposed. Sunlight exposes people to Gamma, but it travels 93 million miles (distance), and goes through the air (shielding) reducing the damaging effects on people. Alpha particles are another type of radiation. Alpha particles are positively charged particles that lose power rapidly. They are not dangerous to the skin tissue but if inhaled or ingested can be fatal. A simple sheet of paper can stop Alpha Particles.
Also Beta Particles are radiation. Beta Particles are positive or negative electrons. They are like Alpha Particles, they are only dangerous if inhaled or ingested. Clothing or aluminum can stop Beta Particles. All of these types of radiation can be considered nuclear waste, but also often have uses. X Rays use radiation to...