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How does a Nuclear Power Station Generate Electricity?
power stations use the heat generated by fission of a
fuel (either uranium or plutonium) to boil water to make steam.
The steam is used to turn a turbine to generate electricity.
What are the Advantages of Nuclear Power?
1. A large amount of
energy is generated
from a very small amount of fuel.
2. The fuel is readily
If you need more energy, you just use more fuel.
3. Nuclear power does not produce
carbon dioxide or sulfur dioxide and so does
not contribute to global warming or acid rain.
What are the Disadvantages of Nuclear Power?
1. Poisonous waste is produced, some of which is highly
radioactive. Disposal of this radioactive waste has not been
safely achieved. Very long half-lives (thousands of years)
mean that the waste will be a danger "forever".
At present the most dangerous waste is sealed in glass-like
blocks which are buried deep within "stable" rocks.
Careless disposal of waste in the past
has led to pollution of land, rivers and the ocean.
2. The power station is potentially dangerous to large
of the planet. Despite reassurances from the nuclear industry
that nuclear power is safe, serious accidents have happened
and large areas have been contaminated with radioactivity.
Many members of the public have become cynical
about promises of the cleanliness and safety of nuclear power.
3. The power station is very
expensive to build
and to safely dismantle afterwards (called decommissioning).
When the costs are taken into account, the
electricity produced by the power station is relatively expensive.
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