Nuclear power |

Nuclear power

At present nuclear power is derived from controlled fission reactions which release energy by splitting atomic nuclei.  The heat from this drives generators to produce electricity. 

Different types of nuclear reactor use different fuels but uranium is the most common nuclear fuel. It is relatively common on the earth's surface with enough supply to last the world a century at current consumption rates.  However there is much controversy surrounding the end of the nuclear cycle with issues around the treatment and disposal of waste from nuclear energy plants.  Typically a nuclear power station produces 25-30 tons of waste a year - which can remain active for over 200,000 years.  

Currently long term storage is the most common solution as is the case at the UK’s controversial Sellafield plant.  Other ideas abound though, including burying nuclear waste deep in the ground, re-using nuclear waste to help reduce the amount of waste to be disposed of and even blasting the waste into space – we wouldn’t wish anyone the task of captaining the spacecraft to get it there though!

Nuclear power does seem to be here to stay however with the current UK energy policy supporting new nuclear power stations.  Currently nuclear makes up about a fifth of total UK energy production from 24 nuclear power stations.  Below is Sizewell B, Britain's newest operational nuclear power station.

 Sizewell B

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