Nuclear - Energy, Society, and the Environment Unit 5:...

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Energy, Society, and the Environment Unit 5: Nuclear Energy
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Nuclear Energy We are at a crossroads Last plant approved for construction by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) in 1978 Last plant started generating power in 1996 103 currently operating plants will generate power for a few more decades 20% of the electricity of the U.S. If we want this level of nuclear electricity generation to continue, or to increase, a decision has to be made NOW The question is: SHOULD WE?
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Nuclear Energy A complex issue; My aim: To give you the tools so you can make the decision yourself Basics Engineering, economics, policy, safety and proliferation, waste, other environmental pros and cons Discuss its necessity in the future
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Nuclear Energy Generation Nuclear reactions release a lot more energy than chemical reactions Instead of the electrons of atoms (the which make the bonds), nuclear reactions involve the nuclei of atoms ==> nuclear energy
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Atomic Nuclei
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Nuclear Energy Generation Nuclear reactions release a lot more energy than chemical reactions Instead of the electrons of atoms (the which make the bonds), nuclear reactions involve the nuclei of atoms ==> nuclear energy There are two types of nuclear reactions: fission and fusion
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Look at the Elements, again
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Atomic Nuclei “small nuclei” small number of protons and neutrons “large nuclei” large number of protons and neutrons The divide is at Iron: 56 Fe The size of nuclei determine their stability and “radioactivity”
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Nuclear Reactions neutron 235 U FISSION PRODUCT neutron neutron fission 235 U, fission activation FISSION PRODUCT ACTIVATION PRODUCT CHAIN REACTION 239 Pu, etc. 200 MeV Deuterium Tritium neutron fusion activation HELIUM ACTIVATION PRODUCT 17.6 MeV Energy from Nuclear Fission: Energy from Nuclear Fusion: But why do these generate energy??
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Einstein’s Famous Expression 2 The mass of an atomic nucleus is smaller than the sum of its parts The difference is called the “mass defect” The “ binding energy ” is the energy required to hold the atom together --- it takes binding energy worth of energy to break apart the atom E = m c 2 where m is the mass difference between reactants and products When nuclei split and combine, there is a difference in the total mass of reactants and products: some of the binding energy is released
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Binding Energy Curve I Higher the binding energy, the more stable the nucleus
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Binding Energy Curve II A reaction that results in products of higher binding energy generates energy HOW MUCH energy is generated depends on the difference in the binding energy of reactants and products FUSION FISSION
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In Class Question Looking at the binding energy curve, would you guess that fission or fusion generates more energy per nucleon?
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Nuclear - Energy, Society, and the Environment Unit 5:...

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