‘Energy” is a very important word in modern life. It exists in different forms. Most amazing and life changing innovation of humankind is Electricity without which we would be in the dark-age. It has changed everything it touches in our life. We are well aware of the fact that in our daily life we can hardly live without electricity. It has a wide range of complex applications along with our daily commercial needs.
Electricity is a secondary mode of energy and we get it by conversion of primary sources like coal, petrol, crude oil, solar energy, natural gas. While electricity exists in natural forms such as lightning and static electricity, it is usually generated for use on demand by electromechanical generators. These generators may be propelled by the kinetic energy of flowing water and wind, or by the movement of steam produced from water boiled by fuel combustion. The production of electricity and its effect on the environment is one of concern now a days. The electricity generated by natural fossils like petroleum, natural gases produces a number of byproducts that pollute the environment. The gases and chemicals like Carbon dioxide (CO2), Carbon monoxide (CO),Sulfur dioxide (SO2), Nitrogen oxides (NOx), Hydrocarbons and Heavy metals like mercury etc. are produced. These byproducts cause health hazards like inflammatory responses in the respiratory system, reducing the ability of the body to carry oxygen in blood, cardiac problems and damage to the central nervous system; fatigue; headaches; nausea and many more.
The structure of the electricity sector has been evolving over the past decade. Increasing global energy demand combined with the need to minimize GreenHouse Gas (GHG) emission require the diversification of energy sources and other technologies with lesser environmental effect. The electricity generation with Solar energy and Nuclear energy are the most promising way to generate clean energy. At present, Nuclear Power appears to be the best choice for many nations. It has a great prospect of supplying sufficient energy with creating less impact to the environment.
Nuclear Power Generation; Theory:
Nuclear power plants work on splitting of large atoms by nuclear fission process. When large atoms split into one or more smaller atoms, giving off other particles releasing energy, is called nuclear fission. Nuclear fission can happen spontaneously through radioactive decay. It can also be produced in a controlled manner on demand to get energy out of atoms in Nuclear Power plants. The process releases additional neutrons which cause fission in other uranium nuclei and a self-sustaining chain reaction leading to an enormous release of energy. The fission of rare heavy nuclei such as uranium-235 and plutonium-239 are triggered by the capture of one neutron. The nucleus then splits in two highly radioactive fragments, releasing energy and producing new neutrons. Atoms which exist in unstable forms called radioactive isotopes. They decay releasing energy. According to a basic conservation law of physics, the law of conservation of energy, the energy released in a nuclear fission reaction is equal to the total mass of the original atom and minus the total mass of the atoms it splits into which is called binding energy.
Nuclear Fission Process
Nuclear Power Plant:
The purpose of a power plant is to boil water to produce steam to power a generator to produce electricity. Power plants boil water to produce steam that spins the propeller-like blades of a turbine that turns the shaft of a generator. Inside the generator, coils of wire and magnetic fields interact to create electricity. In nuclear power plant steam is produced from the energy released by splitting atoms of uranium. The uranium fuel generates heat through a process of fission.
Nuclear Energy; Energy Next:
To deal with climate change clean energy is a necessity of present day world. Nuclear Power production is supposed to be the main way for production of electricity in future. While nuclear power plants have many similarities to other types of plants that generate electricity, there are some significant differences. It is Clean Energy, Sustainable and produces a huge amount of carbon free power and can produce more energy than other sources. Most of the countries worldwide are going to opt for generation of Nuclear power. According to the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI), the United States avoided more than 476 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions in 2019 which is the equivalent of removing 100 million cars from the road and more than all other clean energy sources combined. The world is marching forward to explore the full potential of nuclear power. This has taken the form of a revolution as countries like Russia, China, France, UK, USA have set successful examples of producing electricity by nuclear reactors. The nuclear capacity growth will be around 25 % in a difference of only 25 years (2015 to 2040). It is not only fulfilling the growing demand but also to ensure a safe environment.
India started her nuclear power program more than sixty years back. The most important source of energy in India in the coming decade will be Nuclear Energy. Tarapur Atomic Power Plant is the first Nuclear power plant in India commissioned in 1968. India has independent indigenous nuclear power program. A significant expansion has been taken which will enable millions of Indians to access electricity. But till date India produces only 3.22% of its total demand as nuclear electricity with install capacity 6780 MWe with 22 operating reactors and 7 nuclear power plants but determined to grow its nuclear power program as a part of a large infrastructure development program. Resource is the main point of concern in nuclear power production. India has small Uranium but large Thorium resources. Three stage nuclear programs have been adopted with the resource of small uranium but large Thorium availability of the country. India is planning to add around ~ 22,000 Mw nuclear power generation capacity over the next decade.
The current consumption rate of fossil fuel will make them extinct by the year 2050 to 2100. Based on these facts, a nuclear power plant is a strategic choice to develop clean energy. India always is in forefront. One of the problems in nuclear power plants is large capital cost and large commissioning time of the construction of the plant but nuclear electricity costs compare well with those of electricity from coal at distances of 800 to 1000 km from the coal fields. Return from nuclear power is also great. To minimize Greenhouse gas emission and global warming, nuclear power plants are one of the possible solutions. Radiation which comes out from the nuclear fuel cycle has less magnitude than natural radiation to ionizing radiation. With the development of science the safety factors related to the nuclear power generation can be well controlled and solved. Nuclear power plants are being integrated to the power production system due to increasing demand for electricity and minimal environmental damage.
. Progress in Nuclear energy; Volume 101, Part A, November 2017, Pages 4-18
. Sources and pictures courtesy: Google.
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