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Nuclear power is generated by splitting atoms to release the energy held at the core, or nucleus, of those atoms. This process, nuclear fission, generates heat that is directed to a cooling agent—usually water. The resulting steam spins a turbine connected to a generator, producing electricity.
See the fact file below for more information on the nuclear energy or alternatively, you can download our 20-page Nuclear Energy worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
- The idea of nuclear power began in the 1930s, when physicist Enrico Fermi first showed that neutrons could split atoms. Fermi led a team that in 1942 achieved the first nuclear chain reaction, under a stadium at the University of Chicago.
- This was followed by a series of milestones in the 1950s: the first electricity produced from atomic energy at Idaho’s Experimental Breeder Reactor I in 1951; the first nuclear power plant in the city of Obninsk in the former Soviet Union in 1954; and the first commercial nuclear power plant in Shippingport, Pennsylvania, in 1957.
- The lifecycle of nuclear fuel starts with uranium mining. The uranium ore is then typically converted into a stable and compact uranium ore concentrate form known as “yellowcake”, more suited for transport.
- Next, the yellowcake is typically converted to a gas uranium hexafluoride, suitable for enrichment.
- Uranium is typically enriched to 3-5% uranium-235, and then generally converted back to ceramic uranium oxide (UOx) form and shaped into rods of the proper composition and geometry for the particular reactor that the fuel is destined for.
ACCIDENTS AND INCIDENTS
- As of 2014, there have been over 100 serious nuclear accidents and incidents from the use of nuclear power.
- The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster was an accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in Ōkuma, Fukushima Prefecture. This was the most severe nuclear accident since the Chernobyl disaster on April 26, 1986, and the only other disaster to be given the Level 7 event classification of the International Nuclear Event Scale.
- The Chernobyl disaster was a nuclear accident that occurred at the No. 4 nuclear reactor in the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, near the city of Pripyat in the north of the Ukrainian SSR. It is considered the worst nuclear disaster in history and is one of only two nuclear energy disasters.
- The Three Mile Island accident was a partial meltdown of reactor number 2 of Three Mile Island Nuclear Generating Station (TMI-2) in Dauphin County, Pennsylvania, near Harrisburg, and a subsequent radiation leak that occurred on March 28, 1979. It was the most significant accident in US commercial nuclear power plant history.
- Carbon emissions. A 2014 analysis of the carbon footprint literature by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reported that the embodied total lifecycle emission intensity of fission electricity has a median value of 12 g CO2eq/kWh, the lowest out of all commercial baseload energy sources.
- Since its commercialization in the 1970s, nuclear power has prevented the emission of about 64 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent that would have otherwise resulted from the burning of fossil fuels in thermal power stations.
- Radiation. The variation in a person’s absorbed natural background radiation averages 2.4 mSv/a globally but frequently varies between 1 mSv/a and 13 mSv/a depending mostly on the geology a person resides upon.
- According to the United Nations (UNSCEAR), regular NPP/nuclear power plant operations, including the nuclear fuel cycle, increase this amount to 0.0002 millisieverts (mSv) per year of public exposure as a global average.
- The average dose from operating NPPs to the local populations around them is less than 0.0001 mSv/a.
TYPES OF NUCLEAR ENERGY
- There are two ways to produce nuclear energy: through the use of fission and fusion. Fission reactions are more easily controlled than fusion reactions. This is why all nuclear power plants use fission reactions to produce energy and electricity.
- In nuclear power plants, the most widely used method to produce energy is fission. The idea of fission is to split atoms, usually uranium, in a nuclear reactor.
- Nuclear fusion is another method of producing energy. The Sun uses this process to produce its energy.
- As of 2009, nuclear fusion has not yet been controlled by man and is not used as a means of producing electricity. Its primary use is still only in the production of nuclear weapons.
Nuclear Energy Worksheets
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about the nuclear energy across 20 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use Nuclear Energy worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about the nuclear power which is generated by splitting atoms to release the energy held at the core, or nucleus, of those atoms. This process, nuclear fission, generates heat that is directed to a cooling agent—usually water. The resulting steam spins a turbine connected to a generator, producing electricity.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- Nuclear Energy Facts
- Hourglass Timeline
- True or False?
- Fission Vs Fusion
- The Cycle
- Words for an Essay
- Unjumble the Letters
- Pros and Cons
- Accidents and Incidents
- Environmental Impact
- What’s News?
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Link will appear as Nuclear Energy Facts & Worksheets: https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, November 28, 2019
Use With Any Curriculum
These worksheets have been specifically designed for use with any international curriculum. You can use these worksheets as-is, or edit them using Google Slides to make them more specific to your own student ability levels and curriculum standards.