Furthering our exploration of different energy sources that are alternatives to fossil fuels, let’s take a closer look at the energy source that was introduced in the last post, nuclear energy. In that post, I introduced where nuclear energy comes from (the nucleus of the atom), and that there are two types of reactions: fusion, and fission. After that, we learned that the heat and light from a nuclear reaction can be used directly as a heat source, or to create high-pressure steam that can then turn a turbine to create mechanical energy, or if connected to a electrical generator, electricity. This is very similar to the use of fossil fuels; the source of heat is just nuclear, not chemical.
This time, we’ll learn a bit more about exactly which types of atoms/nuclei are used as fission fuels. Not just any ol’ nucleus will do. Theoretically, in the right circumstances, any nuclei can react. Practically speaking, however, there are only a few options that really make sense for potent energy production here on Earth. Continue reading Nuclear Energy Part 2: Fuels for Fission