Nuclear energy is the energy in the nucleus, or nucleus, of an atom. Nuclear energy can be used to create electricity, but it must first be released from the atom. In nuclear fission, atoms separate, which releases energy. All nuclear power plants use nuclear fission and most nuclear power plants use uranium atoms.
During nuclear fission, a neutron collides with a uranium atom and splits it, releasing a large amount of energy in the form of heat and radiation. More neutrons are also released when a uranium atom splits. These neutrons continue to collide with other uranium atoms, and the process repeats itself over and over again. This process is called a nuclear chain reaction.
This reaction is monitored in nuclear power plant reactors to produce a desired amount of heat. Nuclear power is a clean and efficient way to boil water to produce steam, which causes turbines to produce electricity. A nuclear reactor produces electricity in the same way that other power plants do. The chain reaction produces energy, which converts water into steam.
The steam pressure turns a generator, which produces electricity. Hybrid nuclear energy is a proposed means of generating energy through the use of a combination of nuclear fusion and fission processes. The vast majority of these nuclear-weapon states have produced weapons before commercial nuclear power plants. On the other hand, energy reactors can also reduce nuclear weapons arsenals when military-grade nuclear materials are reprocessed for use as fuel in nuclear power plants.
The first nuclear power plant was built in the 1950s, and global installed nuclear capacity grew to 100 GW in the late 1970s, and then grew rapidly during the 1980s, reaching 300 GW in 1990. Nuclear energy can also be released in nuclear fusion, where atoms combine or fuse to form a larger atom. The severity of nuclear accidents is generally classified using the International Nuclear Event Scale (INES) introduced by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The normal operation of nuclear power plants and facilities produces radioactive waste or nuclear waste.
On June 27, 1954, the Obninsk nuclear power plant in the USSR became the first nuclear power plant in the world to generate electricity for a power grid, producing about 5 megawatts of electrical energy. Nuclear power plants use low-enriched uranium fuel to produce electricity through a process called fission, the splitting of uranium atoms in a nuclear reactor. Despite the military nature of the first nuclear devices, the 1940s and 1950s were characterized by strong optimism about the potential of nuclear energy to provide cheap and infinite energy. Nuclear proliferation is the spread of nuclear weapons, fissile material and weapon-related nuclear technology to states that do not yet possess nuclear weapons.
The discovery of nuclear fission occurred in 1938, after more than four decades of work in the science of radioactivity and the development of a new nuclear physics that described the components of atoms. Many technologies and materials associated with the creation of a nuclear energy program have a dual-use capability, since they can also be used to manufacture nuclear weapons. The most important waste stream from nuclear power reactors is spent nuclear fuel, which is considered high-level waste. In a nuclear power plant, heat is produced from the division of atoms, a process called nuclear fission.