What Is Nuclear Energy?

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Energy crisis, greenhouse effect, fossil fuel emissions, lack of natural resources, rising oil prices…just a few of the phrases you may have heard thrown around within the last few years. And, inevitably, you will have talked about, heard about or read about the need for the way we live with regard to our consumption of fossil fuels and the sources we use to fulfil our energy needs on earth to change, and to change drastically.

The majority of the world’s current energy supply is obtained from coal, gas and oil. All of these resources are non-renewable, severely depleted and the rate of usage increasing day in day out. It’s estimated that gas reserves will run out somewhere in the next 50 years, and for oil we’re given a deadline between
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Nuclear technology uses a method called fission to create energy. It was first developed in the 1940s during the Second World War and research initially focused on producing bombs by splitting the atoms of either uranium or plutonium. Fission is a method of splitting an atom into two smaller atoms, which don't need as much energy to hold them together as the larger atom. The extra energy is released as heat and radiation. Fission of the uranium creates heat which is used to boil water to steam inside a reactor vessel. The steam then turns huge turbines in magnetic fields that drive generators that make electricity

What are the
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Basically the uranium releases enough heat to boil the water to 300ºC. We all know that water turns to vapour at 100ºC so how do we keep it in liquid form so it can turn the turbines and generate electricity? Answer: Keep the whole chamber at an extremely high pressure so the water is in essence ‘squeezed’ into staying as a liquid. This chamber needs a coolant around it to stop the plant from overheating. Now imagine what happens when there is a disaster, or a power cut and the this cooling system stops working….300ºC, high pressure chamber, radioactive source…Fukushima.

For most people, that’s why nuclear energy is not seen as a viable energy source, and it was the same with me. It’s not safe, and I don’t want it near me or my country. But then I stumbled across a TED talk by researcher and scientist Kirk Sorensen. He describes advances into a new fuel Thorium which could eliminate all these
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