Essential Environment: The Science behind the Stories (3rd Edition)

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Chapter 20 Testing Your Comprehension 1 Nuclear, biomass, and hydroelectric together provide 19.5% of the global energy supply. Nuclear and hydropower each account for almost one-sixth of the world’s electricity generation. 2 In nuclear fission, uranium or plutonium atoms split into several smaller atoms when bombarded with neutrons. This fission releases heat energy, and more neutrons, which can then cause other uranium atoms to split. The reaction can be controlled by absorbing the released neutrons with graphite control rods before they can cause additional fission reactions to occur. 3 Nuclear energy releases much less total greenhouse gas emissions (~4 gC eq /kWh) than coal (~250 gC eq /kWh), oil (~gC eq /kWh), or natural gas (~125 gC eq /kWh). Nuclear energy emissions are of the same order of magnitude as hydropower and biomass emissions. 4 At Three Mile Island, a coolant system failure resulted in a partial core meltdown. The containment building was not breached, however, and so only relatively small amounts of radioactive material were released to the environment. At Chernobyl, by comparison, an explosion destroyed the reactor and sent clouds of radioactive debris into the atmosphere for ten days, until it could be contained. The fallout plume spread across many parts of Europe, and the Chernobyl area is so heavily
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EOC_ch20 - Chapter 20 Testing Your Comprehension 1 Nuclear,...

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