What is Nuclear Energy?
Nuclear power, or nuclear energy, is the use of exothermic
nuclear processes, to generate useful heat and electricity.
The term includes nuclear fission, nuclear decay and
nuclear fusion. Presently the nuclear fission of elements in
the actinide series of the periodic table produce the vast
majority of nuclear energy in the direct service of
humankind, with nuclear decay processes, primarily in the
form of geothermal energy, and radioisotope
thermoelectric generators, in niche uses making up the rest.
How much energy does it produces
for the humankind?
• In 2011, the "average" nuclear power plant in the United States generated
about 12.2 billion kilowatt-hours (kWh). There were 65 nuclear power
plants with 104 operating nuclear reactors that generated a total of 790
billion kilowatt-hours (kWh), or slightly more than 19% of the nation's
• Thirty-six of those plants have two or more reactors. The Palo Verde plant
in Arizona has three reactors with the largest combined generating
capacity of about 3,937 Megawatts (MW). Fort Calhoun in Nebraska had
the smallest capacity with a single reactor at 478 Megawatts (MW).
• The average plant capacity factor was about 89% in 2011.
Cernavoda Power Plant
The Nuclear Power Plant in Cernavodă (Romanian: Centrala Nucleară de la
Cernavodă) is a nuclear power plant in Romania. It produces around 20% of the
country's electricity. It uses CANDU reactor technology from AECL, using heavy
water produced at Drobeta-Turnu Severin as its neutron moderator and water
from the Danube – Black Sea Canal for cooling.
By using nuclear power, Romania is able to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by
over 10 million tonnes each year.
The power plant was designed in Canada by Atomic Energy of Canada Limited in
the 1980s, ad was contracted during the Communist era. The initial plan was to
build five units. Units 1 and 2 are currently operational. Three more partially
completed CANDU reactors exist on the same site, part of a project discontinued
at the fall of Ceauşescu regime. Units 3 and 4 are expected to be completed in
2014 and 2015 respectively.
The Chernobyl disaster was a catastrophic nuclear accident that occurred on 26
April 1986 at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine (then officially the
Ukrainian SSR), which was under the direct jurisdiction of the central authorities of
the Soviet Union. An explosion and fire released large quantities of radioactive
particles into the atmosphere, which spread over much of the western USSR and
The Chernobyl disaster is widely considered to have been the worst nuclear power
plant accident in history, and is one of only two classified as a level 7 event (the
maximum classification) on the International Nuclear Event Scale (the other being
the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in 2011). The battle to contain the
contamination and avert a greater catastrophe ultimately involved over 500,000
workers and cost an estimated 18 billion rubles. The official Soviet casualty count
of 31 deaths has been disputed, and long-term effects such as cancers and
deformities are still being accounted for.
Facts About Nuclear Energy
Nuclear energy comes from uranium, a nonrenewable resource that must be mined.
Every 18 to 24 months, a power plant must shut down to remove its spent uranium fuel, which has
become radioactive waste.
13 percent of the world’s electricity comes from nuclear power plants that emit little to no
Nuclear energy is being used in more than 30 countries around the world, and even powers Mars
Nuclear power facilities can produce energy at a 91 percent efficiency rate 24/7, while maintaining
the method with the lowest emissions.
More than 70 percent of America’s emission-free power comes from nuclear energy sources.
1 in 5 households and business in the U.S. are electrically powered by nuclear energy.
United States power plants produce 2,000 metric tons of radioactive waste every year.
The building of new nuclear facilities creates between 1,400 and 3,500 jobs for construction
workers, and after the facility is built maintains 400 to 700 permanent positions paying roughly 36
to 44 percent more than the average salary of the surrounding area.
American nuclear energy facilities are the highest regulated plants in the world, subject to more
scrutinous observations and regulations.
Nagasaki & Hiroshima
The atomic bombings of the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan were conducted by the
United States during the final stages of World War II in 1945. The two events are the only use of
nuclear weapons in war to date.
Following a firebombing campaign that destroyed many Japanese cities, the Allies prepared for a
costly invasion of Japan. The war in Europe ended when Nazi Germany signed its instrument of
surrender on May 8, 1945, but the Pacific War continued. Together with the United Kingdom and
the Republic of China, the United States called on Japan to surrender in the Potsdam Declaration on
July 26, 1945, threatening "prompt and utter destruction". The Japanese government ignored this
By August 1945, the Allied Manhattan Project had developed and tested atomic bombs, and the
United States Army Air Forces 509th Composite Group was equipped with Silverplate Boeing B-29
Superfortress that could deliver them from Tinian in the Mariana Islands. A Little Boy atomic bomb
was dropped on the city of Hiroshima on August 6, 1945, followed by a Fat Man bomb on the city of
Nagasaki on August 9. Within the first two to four months of the bombings, the acute effects killed
90,000–166,000 people in Hiroshima and 60,000–80,000 in Nagasaki, with roughly half of the
deaths in each city occurring on the first day. During the following months, large numbers died from
the effect of burns, radiation sickness, and other injuries, compounded by illness. In both cities,
most of the dead were civilians, although Hiroshima had a sizeable garrison.
On August 15, six days after the bombing of Nagasaki, Japan announced its surrender to the Allies,
signing the Instrument of Surrender on September 2, officially ending World War II. The bombings'
role in Japan's surrender and their ethical justification are still debated.
Nagasaki Bombing Video (click on link)