What is Nuclear Waste?
I’ve noticed a trend in the last decades where people are pretty much afraid of everything nuclear. And if we think about the human history and the destructions that we’ve seen, then yes, some of us are entitled to think that everything nuclear is a bad thing.
In my opinion we have to look at the big picture and not blame the “thing” but the people who make use of thins materials recklessly. I will make a small analogy if you want: – If someone jumps off of a bridge and kills themselves, should we ban bridges for killing people?
It is the same, in my humble opinion with everything, with guns, with cars or whatever you can think of. People are controlling these “things” thus making them responsable for their actions.
Going back to “What is Nuclear Waste?”, you should know that Nuclear Waste also called Radioactive Waste is actually the leftover materials that have been used in different nuclear processes like power generation or other similar applications like medicine or research.
We all know, or at least we all have heard that these leftover materials are very dangerous and that some countries are not doing a very good job disposing them.
And when it comes to people who are against nuclear power, nuclear waste is the first argument they use against people who are pro nuclear power plants.
And rightfully so, these materials can be extremely hazardous and can affect human life, flora and fauna of a certain area and even contaminate water and soil. This can last from a few days to millions of years. Current major approaches to managing radioactive waste have been segregation and storage for short-lived waste, near-surface disposal for low and some intermediate level waste, and deep burial or partitioning / transmutation for the high-level waste. Radioactivity naturally decays over time, so radioactive waste has to be isolated and confined in appropriate disposal facilities for a sufficient period until it no longer poses a threat.
Classification of radioactive/nuclear waste
This is very tricky because classification is very different depending on the country but the IAEA, which publishes the Radioactive Waste Safety Standards (RADWASS), also plays a major role .
- Uranium tailings are a waste by-products material left over from the rough processing of uranium-bearing ore. They are not that radioactive.
- Low-Level Waste (LLW) includes rags, tools, sometimes clothing, paper, filters, and other materials which may contain small amounts of mostly short-lived radioactivity. Low-level waste are usually leftovers from hospitals, industry and nuclear fuel cycle.
- Intermediate-Level Waste (ILW) usually contains higher amounts of radioactivity and my require shielding but they do not require cooling. They include resins, chemical sludge and metal nuclear fuel cladding, as well as contaminated materials from reactor decommissioning.
- High-Level Waste (HLW) is generated by power plants nuclear reactors and it is very hazardous. After a nuclear fuel rod serves one fuel cycle and is removed from the core, it is considered HLW. This is usually hot and requires cooling.
Nuclear or Radioactive waste requires management and very sophisticated treatment in order to successfully isolate it from merging into biosphere. Applying treatment is the first step followed by the long-term storage or disposal or transformation.
In the past or even today a lot of countries have considered different methods of disposal of radioactive waste:
- Outer space disposal – too expensive it was not implemented
- Long term above ground storage – too dangerous at present times
- Deep boreholes disposal – not implemented
- Ocean Disposal – done in the past is no longer permitted by the international laws
- Disposal in ice sheets – not implemented and today not permitted by international laws
- Direct injection – implemented by USA and URSS in the past
Even though the advantages of nuclear energy are obvious there are certain drawbacks as well. We for sure need to think about our future on the long-term and avoid being short-sided.
If you forgot, or if you simply just didn’t knew, the definition of Nuclear Energy is pretty simple. Nuclear Energy can be found in the nucleus of an atom.
What are Atoms you might ask? Well atoms are the smallest particles that can break a material. At the core of each atom there are two types of particles (neutrons and protons) that are held together. Nuclear energy is the energy that holds neutrons and protons.
I know that many of you still think that Nuclear Energy is bad and that is dangerous and all that. But like all things in our life , nothing is perfect. Nothing is 100% good, there must be a downside , or we wouldn’t have balance.
Advantages of Nuclear Energy are multiple. The main advantage is of course cheaper electricity. Electricity can be obtained in two ways from Nuclear Energy: Nuclear Fusion and Nuclear Fission.
For Nuclear Fusion to be able to take place, energy is released only when atoms are combined or so to say, fused together in order to create a larger atom. Nuclear Fusion is also the same energy that The Sun produces.
On the opposite side is the Nuclear Fission because what is happening here is almost the same process but reversed. What I mean by that is the actually the atoms are split in smaller atoms in order to create fission.
In fact nuclear power plants only create electricity from fission.
To be more precise when one of these two processes takes place atoms experiment a slight loss of mass which generates a huge amount of heat energy. This event was very well explained by Albert Einstein with his famous equation E = mc2.
In conformity with NEI (Nuclear Energy Institute) as of May 2016, 30 countries worldwide are operating 444 nuclear reactors for electricity generation and 63 new nuclear plants are under construction in 15 countries. Nuclear power plants provided 10.9 percent of the world’s electricity production in 2012. Most of the countries that operates Nuclear Plants are Europe, Northern America, East Asia and South Asia.
France has the most important share of electricity generated through nuclear energy. China has the quickest developing nuclear power program with 28 new reactors under construction, and a significant quantity of new reactors are also being constructed in India, Russia and South Korea. At the same time, at least one hundred older and smaller reactors will “most likely be closed over the following 10–15 years.
As of 2011, countries such as Australia, Austria, Denmark, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Malta, New Zealand, Norway, Philippines, and Portugal have no nuclear power stations and remain opposed to them.
Canadian Bruce Nuclear Generating Station is the largest nuclear power plant in the world as we speak.
There are still countries that would like to have them and countries as stated before that don’t want them around. I think we are at a time when we can manage such challenges and that we are able to use them the right way.
Nuclear Energy is an extraordinary form of energy. It is the Power stored within the middle or the nucleus of an atom. Once we divide the nucleus into two parts, two distinct elements are formed along with the emission of excessive energy. The method used is known as fission. There’s another reaction called fusion, which produces almost one tenth of the Power produced throughout fission. Fission is the chain reaction which needs uranium-235. The nuclear Energy is taken into consideration because is a great alternative source of energy after fossil fuels.
But, as I was saying in my previous post “Advantages of Nuclear Energy” there are for sure at the moment some disadvantages for producing this kind of energy.
Disadvantages of Nuclear Energy
- Radioactive Waste – The waste produced by nuclear reactors is desired to be disposed off at a safe area since they’re extraordinarily dangerous and might leak radiations if they are not well stored. Such type of waste can emit radiations from tens to hundreds of years. The storage of radioactive waste has been one of the most important downside for the expansion of more nuclear programs. The nuclear wastes incorporate radio isotopes with long half-lives. This means that the radio isotopes stay within the ecosystem in some shape or another. These reactive radicals make the sand or the water contaminated and it is called mixed waste. The mixed wastes cause dangerous chemical reactions and results in dangerous complications. The radioactive wastes that are normally buried underneath sand and are called vitrification. However these wastes may be used to make nuclear weapons.
- Nuclear Accidents and Nuclear Radiation – Other disadvantages of nuclear energy are nuclear accidents and nuclear radiation. Lately we have access to new technologies that have significantly improved the safety of Nuclear Power Plants. But we have to be aware that there is always a chance that something might go wrong at one point. We have the examples of Chernobyl versus Fukushima, and even if in both events the area has been evacuated, in Japan they did a much better job of not allowing everything in the area to be completely destroyed. Symptoms of radiation include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or fatigue. People who work at nuclear power plants and live near those areas are at high risk of facing nuclear radiations, if it happens, but we hope that will not happen again very soon.
- Higher Cost – Higher cost is another disadvantage of nuclear energy. It is not hard to see that building the infrastructure of a nuclear power plant is very expensive. It takes a while to be built, probably around 5 years or more and that means a lot of resources needs to be spent in order to assure safety of the area and not many countries can afford such an ordeal.
- National Risk – I would say that in case of a war nuclear energy will be some very hot targets. That’s why all over the world the security is at high standards in these plants.
There might be other disadvantages of nuclear energy but I am sure I’ve touched the most important ones in this article. I know that a lot of people are against them and that others are not. But I am writing this article especially to raise awareness of how important nuclear energy is for the future of the human kind.
Knowing its weaknesses we can work to improve them and use nuclear energy in our advantage.
At the present scenario, we have to necessarily explore the advantages of nuclear energy. This is essential because with increasing prices of our renewable resources and the limited sources for generation of inevitable energy there is definitely a need to search for an environment friendly and clean source of energy.
The nuclear energy is undoubtedly an ultimate answer to our society since it is enriched with several benefits. This energy is released from an atom’s nucleus, for example from an element such as uranium. This efficient process of nuclear reaction takes place in the power plants that are enclosed. In this reaction, an energy mammoth is released effectively when two nuclei of atom availed from a very heavy single nucleus powerfully splits into two nuclei that are smaller in size. In other words, optimal advantages of nuclear energy are that an atom is efficiently converted into a massive energy mass.
Exploring all about advantages of nuclear energy
Inevitably, a nuclear energy was primarily derived for the generation of power. However, today the many advantages are widely explored.
If I think about the advantages I can pretty much start with the fact that a nuclear energy generates an energy which is million times higher than the energy derived from wind or a hydro.
Today, it is believed that nearly twelve to eighteen percent of the energy of globe is delivered through the nuclear energy. This energy is unbelievably environment friendly. This really means that it does not lead to emission of harmful gases from green houses such as methane, carbon dioxide, chlorofluorocarbon and ozone which were a high misconception then. These gases are the significant factors for the warming of the globe and can lead to drastic change in the climate. However, one of the greatest advantages is that while producing a nuclear energy there is no real damaged caused to our green and clean environment.
Revealing highest advantages of nuclear energy
One of the most important advantages is that it utilizes uranium in its production. This is an optimal advantage since our earth is enriched with highest resource of uranium which is believed to last for another 100 years and can greatly help us to produce energy for much lengthier hauls.
The other viable advantages are that this kind of energy does not emit carbon dioxide thus it makes our environment free from any kind of poisonous gas.
Besides all of the above, we can generate the maximal amount of energy from a single power plant thus making it very inexpensive kind of energy. Moreover, a nuclear energy is grandly compact and at the same time it is very easy to be transported. It even helps us to reduce our dependency on carbon dioxide emitting fossil fuels.
Minute uranium can provide us massive energy amounts while fossil fuels such as coal or oil are depleting with provision of lesser energy. Presently, the nuclear energy is effectively utilized in medicine as radiotherapy for treating cancer cells. I can’t stress enough, when it comes to the many invaluable advantages of nuclear energy which are explored day by day leading to amazing inventions worldwide.
- How About Recycling?
- In Depth Advantages Of Nuclear Energy
- What is Nuclear Waste?
- What is Nuclear Energy?
- Disadvantages of Nuclear Energy