Saturday, 11 August 2012
Always aware of quite knowing the basic principles of certain things..the orbit of the planets, how tides really work, and what nuclear power actually is. I very much know I don't like it, but not much else. Good to refer to Kidsworld.com for good honest explanations! In a nutshell, that's what I need, prefect. Like The Simpsons references as well. And everyone needs to start thinking of Nuclear Power stations as just huge bloody kettles. (A little bit more info about Plutonium from a more substantive source here though, as Kidsworld seemed to somehow overlook it..too much for young ears me thinks.. too much for my ears come to think of it.)
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'In nuclear fusion, energy is released when atoms are combined or fused together to form a larger atom. This is how the sun produces energy. In nuclear fission, atoms are split apart to form smaller atoms, releasing energy. Nuclear power plants use nuclear fission to produce electricity.
Most power plants burn fuel to produce electricity, but not nuclear power plants. Instead, nuclear plants use the heat given off during fission as fuel. Fission takes place inside the reactor of a nuclear power plant. At the center of the reactor is the core, which contains uranium fuel. The uranium fuel is formed into ceramic pellets. The pellets are about the size of your fingertip, but each one produces the same amount of energy as 150 gallons of oil. These energy-rich pellets are stacked end-to-end in 12-foot metal fuel rods, which you might have seen Homer Simpson carrying at the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant.
Fission generates heat in a reactor just as coal generates heat in a boiler. The heat is used to boil water into steam. The steam turns huge turbine blades, As they turn they drive generators that make electricity. Afterward, the steam is changed back into water through a condenser and this water is used again and again. The steam is cooled using lake or river water flowing through tubes in the condenser. Because this water is heated (removes heat from the steam), this lake or river water can be cooled in a separate structure at the power plant called a cooling tower and then be returned to the lake or river.'
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• Plutonium is a man-made waste product of nuclear fission, which can be used either for fuel in nuclear power plants or for bombs. In the year 2000, an estimated 310 tons (620,000 pounds) of civilian, weapons-usable plutonium had been produced.
• Less than 8 kilograms (about 18 pounds) of plutonium is enough for one Nagasaki-type bomb. Thus, in the year 2000 alone, enough plutonium was created to make more than 34,000 nuclear weapons.
• Because it fissions easily, Uranium-235 (U-235) is one of the elements most commonly used to produce nuclear energy. It is generally used in a mixture with Uranium-238, and produces Plutonium-239 (Pu-239) as waste in the process.
• The rate of decay of a radioactive isotope is called its half-life, the time in which half the initial amount of atoms present takes to decay. The half-life of Plutonium-239, one particularly lethal component of nuclear waste, is 24,000 years.
• The hazardous life of a radioactive element (the length of time that must elapse before the material is considered safe) is at least 10 half-lives. Therefore, Plutonium-239 will remain hazardous for at least 240,000 years.