Nuclear Energy

Essay by Syphorix April 2004

download word file, 31 pages 4.2 2 reviews

Downloaded 186 times

Nuclear energy, also called atomic energy, is the powerful energy released by changes in the nucleus (core) of atoms. The heat and light of the sun result from nuclear energy. Scientists and engineers have found many uses for this energy, including the production of electric energy and the explosion of nuclear weapons. Scientists knew nothing about nuclear energy until the early 1900's, though they knew that all matter consists of atoms. Scientists then further learned that a nucleus makes up most of the mass of every atom and that this nucleus is held together by an extremely strong force. A huge amount of energy is concentrated in the nucleus because of this force. The next step was to make nuclei let go of much of that energy. Scientists first released nuclear energy on a large scale at the University of Chicago in 1942, three years after World War II began.

This achievement led to the development of the atomic bomb. The first atomic bomb was exploded in the desert near Alamogordo, New Mexico, on July 16, 1945. In August, United States planes dropped bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan. The bombs largely destroyed both cities and helped end World War II. Since 1945, peaceful uses of nuclear energy have been developed. The energy released by nuclei creates large amounts of heat. This heat can be used to make steam, and the steam can be used to generate electric energy. Engineers have built devices called nuclear reactors to produce and control nuclear energy. A nuclear reactor operates somewhat like a furnace. But instead of using such fuels as coal or oil, almost all reactors use uranium. And instead of burning in the reactor, the uranium fiss power production is by far the most important peaceful use of nuclear energy. Nuclear...