Nuclear energy protects air quality by producing massive amounts of carbon-free electricity. Empower communities in 28 U.S. Department of State and contributes to many non-electrical applications, ranging from the field of medicine to space exploration. 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.
However, nuclear engineers are investigating nuclear fusion, because the process is likely to be safe and cost-effective. Nuclear power plants do not have the capacity to safely and reliably produce energy from nuclear fusion. Nuclear poisons are materials, such as a type of the element xenon, that absorb some of the fission products created by nuclear fission. In the event that no further investment is made in advanced economies to extend the useful life of existing nuclear power plants or to develop new projects, nuclear power capacity in those countries would decline by about two-thirds by 2040.
Plans to build new nuclear plants face concerns about competitiveness with other power generation technologies and the sheer size of nuclear projects that require billions of dollars in initial investments. Nuclear energy can also be released in nuclear fusion, where atoms combine or fuse to form a larger atom. The treaty promotes the peaceful use of nuclear fuel, as well as limiting the spread of nuclear weapons. A nuclear reactor, or power plant, is a series of machines that can control nuclear fission to produce electricity.
Because nuclear fuel can be used to create nuclear weapons and nuclear reactors, only nations that are party to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) can import uranium or plutonium, another nuclear fuel. In particular, legacy mining problems and nuclear disasters such as Chernobyl have left the public perception that nuclear energy can never be safe. Since nuclear fuel contains much more energy than a similar mass of hydrocarbons or coal, nuclear energy is an attractive alternative to carbon-based fuels.