The science of nuclear energy
The science of nuclear energy

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.

Free course

The science of nuclear energy

Week 2: Using nuclear energy


In the following video, Sam and Gemma discuss our energy needs, where our power comes from and how it is delivered.

Download this video clip.Video player: ou_futurelearn_nuclear_energy_vid_1026.mp4
Skip transcript


Hi. This week, you'll be looking at electricity and the various ways in which electricity is generated and how it's distributed by the national grid.
This kettle, for example, has a power rating of 3,000 watts. That means every second, it uses 3,000 joules of energy. It gets this energy when I plug it in and it connects to the national grid. The national grid has to cope with all our energy needs throughout the day and how they change, and it does this by managing how it utilises all its different power stations.
Here at JET, for example, when they're running an experiment at full power, they can use 2 per cent of the national grid for 30 seconds, and that's so much that they have to phone up and get permission before they switch on. We'll be looking at power stations, the way in which electricity's generated, and how it is delivered to the national grid for distribution. We'll also take a look at nuclear power stations and the ways in which they differ and are similar to gas fired or coal fired power stations.
One important way that nuclear power stations differ from other power stations is in the production of radioactive waste. Now, we saw last week that you can't avoid this nuclear waste, that it's part of the fission process. This means that any commitment to nuclear energy also involves a commitment to dealing with this radioactive waste. At the end of the week, you'll look at some solutions.
End transcript
Interactive feature not available in single page view (see it in standard view).

In the next section, you will find out about the principle of the conservation of energy.


Take your learning further

Making the decision to study can be a big step, which is why you'll want a trusted University. The Open University has 50 years’ experience delivering flexible learning and 170,000 students are studying with us right now. Take a look at all Open University courses.

If you are new to University-level study, we offer two introductory routes to our qualifications. You could either choose to start with an Access module, or a module which allows you to count your previous learning towards an Open University qualification. Read our guide on Where to take your learning next for more information.

Not ready for formal University study? Then browse over 1000 free courses on OpenLearn and sign up to our newsletter to hear about new free courses as they are released.

Every year, thousands of students decide to study with The Open University. With over 120 qualifications, we’ve got the right course for you.

Request an Open University prospectus371