Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Some Surprising Information

It seems to be fairly common these days that the media makes people believe horribly incorrect things. One disaster can occur, and suddenly they're all over it, slandering everything they can. It is then understandable that the masses that listen to this take their words at face value, as they know nothing else. This has been the case with many things in the past... In example, does anybody remember the year when shark attacks were covered over and over again by the press, and made to seem extremely horrific. It got to the point where people were not even going in the water, due to this falsity. In fact, that year, shark attacks were only SLIGHTLY above average. The average? Around fifteen attacks per year, with an even smaller number of deaths. This same media slandering has  occured with nuclear power.

Nuclear Power: An Intro

     So, here we are in 2011. The issue seems to be "what to do when fossil fuels run out!" and "global warming!!! oh no!". People try to turn to "green" alternatives, such as solar, wind, geothermal, hydro and so forth, but what if these are nowhere near enough? The energy produced from this will never be able to power all of this planet, and therefore, other sources must be had. The answer, of course, is nuclear. Using an extremely common source known as "uranium" which has been around since the beginning of the earth. No fossil fuels involved, and it possesses a nearly unlimited supply. Since I don't really feel like introing anymore...

Nuclear Power: How does it work

   First thing you gotta do is enrich your normal uranium with about 2-3% more uranium-235, which is the radioactive isotope of uranium. You then take this, and smash it into pellets, which are about a dime in diameter, and 2.5 inches long. Gather this into a bundle, and put the entire thing in water, which acts as a coolant (if there's no water, you get some nice overheating, and the uranium melts, which is no good at all). Fire a neutron at the bundle, and the nucleus of a uranium atom that it strikes will become unstable, and split, which in turn causes more particles to be released which strike other atoms nearby, thereby creating what is called a chain reaction. This spreads through the bundle, creating insane amounts of heat, which heats the water. As the water steams, it turns turbines to generate power.
   To prevent overheating of this powerful reaction, there are these objects called "control rods". These are made up of a material that absorbs neutrons, and can be lowered into the bundle to halt the reaction. They can also be put in at varying amounts to control heat production. This means if they wanted it to burn hotter, they could raise the control rods out, whereas if they wanted things to go cooler, they lower it in.
   How is all of this contained? Well, they have a concrete liner around the main containment vessel, which holds all the water, or other coolant. There's then a steel liner around that, which holds the core, equipment, and any workers operating in the area. There's then even more concrete around this, which serves as the outer building. Radiation CANNOT escape from this.

Nuclear Power: Why Things Went Wrong

   It's not the reactor's fault when things go badly, it's the human's fault for either designing, or operating incorrectly.
   Cherynobyl: why did it happen? Poor design. Modern nuclear power plants require constant supervision to keep from shutting down, as without input, it will shut itself off. Cherynobyl needed input to keep form malfunctioning. See the difference? The actual catastrophe itself resulted from a test. The operators needed to see if water heat on turbines could power the cooling system for as long as they needed to get a back up diesel generator started, in the event of a loss of power. The water didn't do this, and a power surge during the test wiped out the power, causing the uranium to begin to overheat, which in turn resulted in a horrific accident.
  Japan: they put the control rods in, which stopped the reaction quite quickly. However, heat continues to be generated for roughly fifteen minutes after a shutdown, and since there was a poor backup power system, water couldn't circulate to alleviate heat. This resulted in a meltdown. And besides, let's think about this... Should nuclear reactors REALLY be placed near coast, fault lines, and volcanoes? Come on people.

Nuclear Power: Fun Facts

1. There is far less CO2 put into the atmosphere by nuclear power than coal/gas plants.

2. There is also less RADIATION put into the atmosphere from nuclear power plants than coal/gas plants. Yes, you read that right. The plant that is MENT to cause radiation, puts out less radiation into the atmosphere than coal. That's because the radiation from nuclear plants is contained. With coal, it's just pumped out there. Have you noticed the rise in cancer? That's why.

3. Nuclear fission equals around one million times more energy per weight than fossil fuels.

4. There are 443 nuclear power plants operating in the world, 102 of which make up 20% of America's energy.

5. Nuclear power plants cannot blow up.

6. Compared to other non-carbon-based and carbon-neutral energy options, nuclear power plants need far less area. For a 1000 MW plant, site requirements are as follows: nuclear plants take about 1-4 km^2, solar is around 20-50 km^2, and win goes up to 50-150 km^2.

7. Weapons cannot be made with nuclear power plant fuel, as it is not enriched enough.

8. 17,000 cubic feet of natural gas, 1,780 pounds of coal, or 149 gallons of oil provide the same amount of energy as one uranium fuel pellet which is about the size of your pinkey.

9. If the US only used nuclear power, it would take about 10,000 years to make the same amount of waste that is currently needed for coal ash every two weeks.

10. You would need to live near a nuclear power plant for -2,000- years, to receive the amount of radiation that you get in a single x-ray.

11. Nuclear provides 73 % of the energy from all low-carbon energy sources, including hydroelectric, wind, and solar.

12. A pound of highly enriched uranium which is used to power a nuclear sub is the equivelent to 1,000,000 gallons of gas.

13. Each atom split in the uranium bundle results in 200,000,000 electron volts. There are millions of atoms in one pound of uranium.

There, wasn't that fun? Tomarrow I think I'll head into some conspiracies. If you want any covered, leave a comment and I'll look into it.


Brandon said...

Tomorrow you should cover diseases such as Bird Flu, Swine Flu, Sars, Etc. being taken out of control by media

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