Why my Top 6 Nuclear Energy Facts are BETTER than Yours?

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Wanna know why my top 6 nuclear energy facts are better than yours? If YES, then you are at the right place at the very right time. But, before going ahead, let me give you a short and crisp review about the fact that what the heck is nuclear energy anyway!!!

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.

 

Top 6 Facts about Nuclear Energy in SIX Minutes

If you think you cant relate to the most common yet scientifically exclusive fun facts about nuclear energy. Well, here is your chance to think again…!!!

  • 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

Einstein-cartoon-thinking
Image Source: The New Yorker

Yup, you heard me right. The very first one in my list of top 6 nuclear power facts is that 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, 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.

 

Pipe Dreams after ushering of Nuclear Era

nuclear-powered-earth-to-moon-shuttles-cartoon
Image Source: Pinterest

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

Uranium-ore-for-nuclear-energy
Image Source: The Conversation

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.

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.

 

10% of Global Electricity is Produced by Nuclear Energy

Kudankulam-Nuclear-Fission-Power -Plant
Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant (KKNPP) Units 1 and 2 at Kudankulam in Tirunelveli district of Tamil Nadu, India. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Did you know that about 10% of the 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, 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.

 

Tokmak: The Next Pipe Dream

korean-artificial-sun
The Korea Superconducting Tokamak Advanced Research (KSTAR). Image credit: National Research Council of Science & Technology via phys.org

Last but not least one in my list of top 6 nuclear energy facts is the Nuclear Fusion based Tokmak. On November 24, 2020, The Korea Superconducting Tokamak Advanced Research (KSTAR), a superconducting nuclear fusion device set the new record as it succeeded in maintaining the high-temperature plasma for 20 seconds with an ion temperature over 100 million degrees (Celsius).

Not to mention, according to PHYS.ORG, in the year 2019, the same superconducting fusion device was 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 over 100 million degrees (Celsius) just for 20seconds.

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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I am a mechanical engineer by profession. Just because of my love for fundamental physics, I switched my career, and therefore I did my postgraduate degree in physics. Right now I am a loner (as ever) and a Physics blogger too. My sole future goal is to do a Ph.D. in theoretical physics, especially in the field of cosmology. Because in my view, every aspect of physics comes within the range of cosmology. And I love traveling, especially the Sole one.

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