By definition, nuclear energy is nothing but the energy that we harness from the core of an atom. Not to mention, there are two ways to harness nuclear power. These two ways are profoundly known as the process of nuclear fusion and nuclear fission reaction.
6 Fun Facts about Nuclear Energy in SIX Minutes
- Even Einstein was not sure about harnessing nuclear energy
- Pipe dreams after ushering of Nuclear Era
- Only heavier elements are fissionable
- Nuclear Energy: Renewable or Non-Renewable? Let’s Find Out!!!
- 10% of Global Electricity is Produced by Nuclear Energy
- Tokmak: The Next Pipe Dream
Even Einstein was not sure about harnessing nuclear energy
Soon after the development of the Mass-Energy Equivalence, not only Einstein but Physics heavyweights like Rutherford, and Niel Bohr also believed that harnessing the power of the atom for practical purposes anytime in the near future was highly unlikely!!!
Well, sadly speaking, I can say that all of them were wrong. I mean, currently, we do have a large stock of nuclear bombs. More importantly, we are also successfully harnessing the power of the atom to light our homes, industries, etc.
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Pipe Dreams after ushering of Nuclear Era
Yup, it’s true. Soon after the inception of the Nuclear or Atomic Era, scientists started to proclaim different pipe dreams. According to Benjamin K. Sovacool’s Book “The National Politics of Nuclear Power”, in 1945, during the grand launch of the pocketbook of the atomic age, Nobel laureate Glenn T. Seaborg, who chaired the Atomic Energy Commission famously quoted,
There will be nuclear-powered earth-to-moon shuttles, nuclear-powered artificial hearts, plutonium heated swimming pools for SCUBA divers, and much more.
Not to mention, even one science writer, David Dietz said that instead of filling the gas tank of your car two or three times a week, you will travel for a year on a pellet of atomic energy the size of a vitamin pill. Well, what do you think? I mean, as per their vision, where do we stand right now? Do let me know your views in the comment section.
Only Heavier Elements are Fissionable
The very next one in my list of top 6 nuclear energy fun facts is that only heavier elements such as Uranium, Plutonium, or Thorium are fissionable. Confused? OKAY, let me explain…!!! Lighter elements are also fissionable. But, there is a catch!!!
As per the governing laws of Nuclear Physics, for the fission reaction to be exothermic in nature, the elements in use have to be the heaviest. Otherwise, the generated energy will be endothermic in nature.
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In a similar way, only lighter elements such as hydrogen or its isotopes are fusible. WHY? For the fusion reaction to be exothermic in nature, the elements in use have to be the lightest. Otherwise, the generated energy will be endothermic in nature.
Nuclear energy: Renewable or Non-Renewable?
Ever wondered whether nuclear energy sources are renewable or non-renewable sources of energy? Well, in accordance with the scientific community, Nuclear energy does come under the category of non-renewable energy resources.
However, some group of nuclear scientists argues that nuclear energy itself is a renewable one, but the material used in the nuclear power plant is not. Just to mention, recently, European Union commission concluded that nuclear energy is clean energy. As a result, this topic is highly debatable among the scientific community.
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10% of Global Electricity is Produced by Nuclear Energy
Did you know that about 10% of global electricity is produced via controlled nuclear fission-powered plants? In fact, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency, it is by far the second-largest low-carbon power source after the hydroelectric power plant.
Moreover, as per the data released by the World Nuclear Association, there are 441 civilian nuclear fission reactors in the world, with a combined electrical capacity of 392 gigawatts (GW).
Not to mention, there are also 54 nuclear power reactors under construction and 98 reactors planned, with a combined capacity of 60 GW and 103 GW, respectively.
Just to mention, the Russian Federation (formerly the Soviet Union) was the first country to produce electricity using nuclear fission reactions. The Obninsk Power Plant came online in 1954.
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Tokmak: The Next Pipe Dream
On November 24, 2020, The Korea Superconducting Tokamak Advanced Research (KSTAR), a superconducting nuclear fusion device set a new record as it succeeded in maintaining a high-temperature plasma for 20 seconds with an ion temperature of over 100 million degrees (Celsius).
Not to mention, according to PHYS.ORG, in the year 2019, the same superconducting fusion device succeeded in maintaining the high-temperature plasma for 8 seconds with an ion temperature over 100 million degrees (Celsius). According to KSTAR (also known as the Korean artificial sun), their final goal is to succeed in a continuous operation of 300 seconds with an ion temperature higher than 100 million degrees by 2025.
Pipe Dream: BUT WHY?
Obviously, you would be thinking why I said it’s a PIPE DREAM. Okay, let me explain. Currently, they are able to sustain a nuclear fusion reactor with an ion temperature of over 100 million degrees (Celsius) just for 20 seconds.
On the other hand, they are planning to cross over the operation for more than 300 seconds i.e around 5 minutes. However, in order to produce electricity, the fusion reactor has to work continuously just like the Sun in our solar system work.
Therefore, until or unless, they are not able to work it out properly, I am not afraid to call it merely a Pipe Dream. I hope now you know why my top 6 Nuclear Energy Facts are BETTER than Yours.
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