Principles of nuclear energyFission reactionsNuclear reactorNuclear power plants
Chain reaction occurs when a Uranium atom splits
Different reactionsAtomic Bomb in a split secondNuclear Power Reactor more controlled, cannot explode like a bomb
1938 Scientists study Uranium nucleus1941 Manhattan Project begins1942 Controlled nuclear chain reaction1945 U.S. uses two atomic bombs on Japan1949 Soviets develop atomic bomb1952 U.S. tests hydrogen bomb1955 First U.S. nuclear submarine
Program to justify nuclear technology
Proposals for power, canal-building, exports
First commercial power plant, Illinois 1960
The energy in one pound of highly enriched Uranium is comparable to that of one million gallons of gasoline.
One million times as much energy in one pound of Uranium as in one pound of coal.
Nuclear energy annually prevents5.1 million tons of sulfur2.4 million tons of nitrogen oxide164 metric tons of carbon
Nuclear often pitted against fossil fuelsSome coal contains radioactivityNuclear plants have released low-level radiation
1964 Atomic Energy Commission report on possible reactor accident
45,000 dead100,000 injured$17 billion in damagesArea the size of Pennsylvania contaminated
17% of worlds electricity from nuclear power U.S. about 20% (2nd largest source)
431 nuclear plants in 31 countries 103 of them in the U.S.Built none since 1970s (Wisconsin as leader). U.S. firms have exported nukes.Push from Bush/Cheney for new nukes.
Uranium mining and millingConversion and enrichmentFuel rod fabricationPOWER REACTORReprocessing, orRadioactive waste disposalLow-level in commercial facilitiesHigh level at plants or underground repository
U-235 Fissionable at 3%Weapons grade at 90%
U-238 More stable
Plutonium-239 Created from U-238; highly radioactive
Life span of least 240,000 years
Last Ice Age glaciation was 10,000 years ago
Neanderthal Man died out30,000 years ago
Largest industrial users of water, electricityPaducah, KY, Oak Ridge, TN, Portsmouth, OH
Cancers and leukemia among workersFires and mass exposure.Karen Silkwood at Oklahoma fabrication plant.
Risk of theft of bomb material.
3% enriched Uranium pellets formed into rods, which are formed into bundlesBundles submerged in water coolant inside pressure vessel, with control rods.Bundles must be SUPERCRITICAL; will overheat and melt if no control rods. Reaction converts water to steam, which powers steam turbine
Reactors pressure vessel typically housed in 8 of steel
36 concrete shielding
45 steel reinforced concrete
Uses liquid sodium metal instead of water for coolantCould explode if in contact with air or water
1966 Fermi, Michigan Partial meltdown nearly causes evacuation of Detroit
1973 Shevchenko, RussiaBreeder caught fire and exploded
Controversial proposals in Europe, U.S.
Separates reusable fuel from wasteLarge amounts of radioactivity released
1960s West Valley, NY Radiation leaked into Lake Ontario
1970s La Hague, France Released plutonium plumes into air
Low-level wastes in commercial facilities
Spent fuel in pools or dry casks by plants
Nuclear lab wastesHanford wastes leaked radiation into Columbia River
High-level underground repository Yucca Mountain in Nevada to 2037Wolf River Batholith in Wisconsin after 2037?Risks of cracks in bedrock, water seepage
Disposal of radioactive waste from nuclear power plants and weapons facilities by recycling it into household products.
In 1996, 15,000 tons of metal were received by the Association of Radioactive Metal Recyclers . Much was recycled into products without consumer knowledge.
Depleted Uranium munitions for military.
Nuclear energy has no typical pollutants or greenhouse gasses
Nuclear waste contains high levels of radioactive waste, which are active for hundreds of thousands of years.
The controversy around nuclear energy stems from all parts of the nuclear chain.