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The science of nuclear energy
The science of nuclear energy

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2.5 Summary of Week 2

This week you looked initially at how to quantify the energy we use and how this links to nuclear power.

The electrical energy we use within the home is provided by the National Grid, which utilises various energy sources including coal, gas, nuclear, wind and solar. Nuclear power stations exploit the energy produced from induced fission released in the form of heat energy. The elements within the power station are there to safely sustain the chain reaction and to extract the heat produced. A major issue surrounding nuclear power is the production of nuclear waste which may remain active for many years. A proportion of radioactive waste can be reused or transformed via transmutation but the favoured option for nuclear waste management at the moment is to bury the waste in purpose-built underground repositories.

Next week, you’ll examine another controversial aspect of nuclear power – the fear of a nuclear accident. Historically, there have been very few accidents at power stations but you’ll examine the causes in each case and look at the recent events at Fukushima in some depth. You will look at the long range effects on the surrounding environment and the local population.

You can now go to Week 3 [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] .