Advantages and Disadvantages of Nuclear Energy

Advantages and Disadvantages of Nuclear Energy | Boiling Water Reactors (BWRs) And Pressurized Water Reactors (PWR)| How Does Nuclear Power Work?

What Is Nuclear Power?

Nuclear energy is the process of generating electricity through nuclear processes. Nuclear energy can be generated through fission, decay, or fusion reactions.

Currently, the great majority of nuclear energy electricity is generated by the nuclear fission of uranium and plutonium in nuclear power plants.

Nuclear decay processes are utilized in a few specialized applications, including radioisotope thermoelectric generators on some space missions, such as Voyager 2. International research continues to be focused on generating electricity using fusion.

How Does Nuclear Power Work?

Nuclear power is a form of energy that can be used to provide electricity for homes and businesses.

Atoms are formed in the same way that small solar systems are. The nucleus is located in the center of the atom; electrons orbit around it.

The nucleus is made up of protons and neutrons that are packed extremely closely together. Hydrogen, the lightest natural element, contains only one proton; uranium, the heaviest natural element, contains 92 protons.

A strong force, the “strongest force in nature,” holds the nucleus of an atom together. It may be split apart when attacked with a neutron, a process known as fission (pictured to the right).

Due to the huge size of uranium atoms, the atomic force that holds them together is relatively weak, making uranium suitable for fission.

Neutrons clash with uranium atoms in nuclear power reactors, splitting them. This split causes the uranium to emit neutrons, which collide with other atoms, resulting in a chain reaction. Control of this chain reaction is accomplished by the use of “control rods” that absorb neutrons.

Nuclear reactors generate energy by fissioning uranium atoms, which heats water to approximately 520 degrees Fahrenheit. This hot water is then used to power turbines attached to generators.

Boiling Water Reactors (BWRs) And Pressurized Water Reactors (PWR)

Nuclear power is a form of energy that can be used to provide electricity for homes and businesses. Nuclear power generation does not emit any air pollution or greenhouse gases and is considered by many as the ‘cleanest’ source of energy.

There are two main types of nuclear reactors, boiling water reactors (BWRs) and pressurized water reactors (PWRs).

These different reactor types produce varying amounts of heat, which in turn produces differing amounts of electricity. BWRs produce less heat than PWRs, so they need more fuel rods to get the same amount of steam needed for generating electricity- this means that there’s a greater risk with BWRs when it comes to safety.

Boiling Water Reactors

Boiling water reactors (BWRs) are a type of light water nuclear reactor that is used to generate electricity.

It is the second most prevalent form of nuclear reactor used to generate energy, trailing only the pressurized water reactor (PWR), which is also a type of light water reactor.

The primary distinction between a BWR and a PWR is that in a BWR, the reactor core heats water, which is converted to steam and then used to power a steam turbine.

The reactor core of a PWR warms water that does not boil. This hot water is then exchanged with a lower pressure water system, where it is converted to steam and used to power the turbine.

The BWR was created in the mid-1950s by Argonne National Laboratory and General Electric (GE). GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy is the primary manufacturer at the moment, specializing in the design and building of this type of reactor.

Boiling Water Reactor Advantages and Disadvantages

The Advantages of Boiling Water Reactor

  • The nuclear fuel for the atomic reactor is uranium oxides with an enrichment level of between 2% and 4%.
  • No steam generators or pressure compensators are used in the boiling water reactor.
  • The initial circuit of the reactor runs at a pressure of 70 atmospheres, compared to the 160 atmospheres utilized in PWR reactors (pressurized water reactors).
  • It necessitates lower operating temperatures, including those at the fuel rods.
  • Due to the rejection of neutron absorption by boron and a slightly weaker neutron moderation (due to steam), the operational time of plutonium in such a reactor will be longer than in a PWR.
  • In comparison to a pressurized water reactor, the pressure vessel receives less irradiation. As a result, the reactor vessel does not deteriorate with age.

The Disadvantages of Boiling Water Reactor

  • Recharging nuclear fuel is not possible without shutting down the atomic reactor.
  • The station’s management is more complicated.
  • Control rods must be placed via the bottom. They could not fall into the reactor by gravity in the event of a power outage, and the reactor would not shut down.
  • A greater number of feedback sensors is required.
  • You’ll require a reactor vessel almost double the volume of a PWR of equal power.
  • Although it is built for reduced pressure, it presents additional manufacturing and transportation challenges.
  • Contamination of turbines by water activation products, including short-lived N-17 and traces of tritium. It significantly complicates maintenance operations.
  • The reaction is terminated once all control bars have been inserted completely. Nuclear fuel, on the other hand, continues to emit heat. This means that when the reactor is shut down, coolant must be pumped for one to three years to ensure safety.

 Pressurized Water Reactor

A pressurized water reactor (PWR) is a type of nuclear reactor that uses light water. PWRs account for the lion’s share of the world’s nuclear power plants, with notable exceptions being the UK, Japan, and Canada.

In a PWR, the primary coolant (water) is pumped at high pressure to the reactor core, where the fission of atoms heats it.

The heated, high-pressure water then goes through a steam generator. It is converted to steam by transferring its thermal energy to the lower pressure water in a secondary system.

Steam is then used to power turbines, which in turn spin an electric generator. Compared to a boiling water reactor (BWR), the primary coolant loop pressure prevents the water within the reactor from boiling.

All light-water reactors employ ordinary water as both a coolant and a moderator of neutrons. The majority employ between two and four vertically placed steam generators; VVER reactors have horizontally mounted steam generators.

PWRs were originally developed to provide nuclear marine propulsion for nuclear submarines and were employed in the design of the Shipping port Atomic Power Station’s second commercial power plant.

In the United States, PWRs are classified as Generation II reactors. Russia’s VVER reactors are similar to the PWRs in the United States, although the VVER-1200 is not a Generation II reactor (see below). France generates the majority of its electricity through a network of PWRs.

Pressurized Water Reactor Advantages and Disadvantages

Pressurized Water Reactor Advantages

  • Due to their tendency to produce less power as temperatures rise, PWR reactors are extremely stable; this makes the reactor easier to run from a stability standpoint.
  • Because the PWR turbine cycle loop is distinct from the primary loop, radioactive elements do not contaminate the water in the secondary loop.
  • In the event of a loss of offsite power, PWRs can passively scram the reactor to bring the primary nuclear reaction to a halt. Electromagnets secure the control rods, which fall naturally when the current is cut off; complete insertion securely shuts down the primary nuclear reaction.
  • PWR technology is preferred by governments developing a nuclear fleet because the compact reactors fit comfortably within nuclear submarines and other nuclear ships.

Pressurized Water Reactor Advantages

  • To remain liquid at elevated temperatures, the cooling water must be heavily pressured. This necessitates the use of a high-strength pipe and a large pressure vessel, which adds to the building costs. The increased pressure might exacerbate the consequences of a coolant loss event.
  • Additional high-pressure components are required, such as reactor coolant pumps, pressurizers, and steam generators. This also adds to the expense and complexity of a PWR power plant’s capitalization.
  • The high-temperature water coolant containing boric acid is corrosive to carbon steel (but not to stainless steel); this can result in the circulation of radioactive corrosion products in the primary coolant loop. This reduces the reactor’s lifetime and greatly increases the reactor’s overall cost and radiation exposure due to the systems used to filter out corrosion products and modify the boric acid concentration.
  • Finally, while there is no water contamination in the primary cycle, boric acid, which is corrosive to carbon steel, can be melted into the coolant, resulting in the circulation of radioactive compounds throughout the loop.

What is Nuclear Energy Used For?

Nuclear energy used for Radioisotopes, nuclear power process heat, and non-stationary power reactors has essential uses across multiple sectors, including consumer products, agriculture, food, and agriculture, medicine, industry,  and scientific research, transport,  and water resources, and the environment.

Is Nuclear Power Renewable Or Nonrenewable?

Nuclear power plants are typically categorized as non-renewable energy sources because they do not produce fuel that can be replenished. Although nuclear energy itself is a renewable energy source, the material used in nuclear power plants is not.

However, the nuclear plant produces no carbon dioxide emissions. It would potentially have zero carbon emissions if all uranium used in the process were mined from old mines or recycled materials.

The uranium fuel for nuclear reactors must be mined from below ground ore deposits, so it is not considered a renewable resource like wind and solar power.

While nuclear energy is currently a sustainable energy source, it might become totally renewable if the uranium source were switched from mined ore to saltwater.

Because the uranium removed is renewed continuously through geological processes, nuclear would become as infinite as solar.

There are also risks associated with waste disposal and accidents that can lead to long-term consequences for human health and the environment.

The debate over whether nuclear power is renewable or not will likely continue as we weigh risk against reward to make an informed decision on how we want our future energy needs met.

Where Does Nuclear Energy Come From

Nuclear energy is generated by the fission of uranium atoms. This generates heat, which is used to create steam, which is then used to generate electricity via a turbine generator.

A nuclear reactor is powered by the process of atom fission, in which a particle (a ‘neutron’) is launched at an atom, which subsequently splits into two smaller atoms and several additional neutrons.

Some of the released neutrons then collide with other atoms, causing them to fission and release further neutrons. This phenomenon is referred to as a chain reaction.

Additionally, the chain reaction’s fission of atoms produces a significant quantity of energy as heat. A circulating fluid, often water, removes the generated heat from the reactor.

This heat can then be utilized to make steam, which is used to power turbines that generate electricity.

To guarantee that the nuclear reaction occurs at the appropriate rate, reactors contain technologies that accelerate, delay, or completely shut down the nuclear reaction and the heat it creates.

This is commonly accomplished using control rods comprised of neutron-absorbing materials such as silver or boron.

Uses of Nuclear Energy

Independent Criminal investigation

Radioisotopes are routinely used by criminal investigators to gather tangible evidence linking a suspect to a specific crime.

They can be used to determine the presence of trace compounds in paint, glass, tape, ammunition, lead, and poisons.

 Atomic Energy

Nuclear energy generates about 20% of the electricity in the United States. Additionally, it is the primary source of clean energy in the United States, accounting for nearly 60% of our emissions-free electricity. That is more than all renewable energy sources combined.

Additionally, the nation’s reactor fleet runs at or above 92 percent of the time, making it far and away from the most reliable energy source on the grid—and it’s not even close.

Sterilization of Water

Regrettably, many communities throughout the world continue to lack dependable access to safe drinking water. They employ a procedure called desalination to purify their water, which consumes a tremendous amount of energy.

Nuclear energy facilities can deliver this energy to water desalination plants, allowing for the low-cost provision of fresh drinking water to communities that lack it.

Exploration of Space

Radioisotope power systems have enabled us to learn a great lot about deep space (RPSs). These miniature nuclear reactors are used to power spacecraft operating in the harsh environs of deep space.

For decades of space exploration, including missions to study Jupiter, Saturn, Mars, and Pluto, RPSs have proved safe, reliable, and maintenance-free.

Diagnosis and Treatment Medical Diagnosis and Treatment

Around one-third of all patients admitted to hospitals in the United States are diagnosed or treated with the aid of radiation or radioactive materials.

Nuclear medical imaging, which combines the safe delivery of radioisotopes with camera imaging, assists clinicians in locating cancers, size abnormalities, and other issues.

Additionally, physicians employ radioisotopes therapeutically to eradicate malignant cells, shrink tumors, and alleviate pain.


Finally, farmers can utilize radioisotopes in place of chemical pesticides to control insects that destroy crops.

Male insect pests are rendered infertile with this treatment. Following that, pest populations are substantially decreased and, in some cases, eradicated.

Additionally, nuclear energy is used to preserve our food. When food is irradiated, dangerous organisms are killed without the food being cooked or losing its nutritious value.

Additionally, it eliminates the need for chemical additives and refrigeration and consumes less energy than other food preservation techniques.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Nuclear Energy (Pros and Cons of Nuclear Energy)

Here are the pros and cons of nuclear energy:  

Advantages/Pros of nuclear energy

Low-cost energy

Although nuclear power facilities have a high starting cost, they are comparatively inexpensive to develop and operate.

Additionally, nuclear energy does not face the price swings associated with typical fossil fuel energy sources such as coal and natural gas.

As a result, the price of nuclear energy can be forecast for an extended period of time. As technology evolves, that price is likely to remain low, if not decrease more.

Zero carbon emissions

One major selling point of nuclear energy is that it produces zero greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and ozone-depleting substances such as sulfur hexafluoride.

The by-products from fuel production do not contribute to concentrations of these pollutants in the atmosphere, thereby potentially achieving a reduction in greenhouse gases.

Nuclear energy is an important source of renewable energy, containing about 20% of the total global electricity production. It is a pollution-free process and does not generate greenhouse gases or other pollutants.

However, the risk of nuclear accidents and the problems associated with waste disposal have limited its growth in recent years.

Promising future energy supply

Nuclear energy is an important source of renewable energy, containing about 20% of the total global electricity production. It is a pollution-free process and does not generate greenhouse gases or other pollutants.

However, the risk of nuclear accidents and the problems associated with waste disposal have limited its growth in recent years.

Fortified environment

Nuclear power generation facilities can be used for environmental remediation efforts by removing highly radioactive waste from nuclear sites and storing it safely where it cannot impact public health or common property resources.

High energy density

As technology evolves, nuclear power facilities of modern design are able to provide large amounts of energy. They also allow the creation of small-scale power systems able to supply a wide range of needs for long periods of time.

No pollution

Nuclear energy is an important source of renewable energy, containing about 20% of the total global electricity production. It is a pollution-free process and does not generate greenhouse gases or other pollutants.

Nuclear energy creates jobs

Nuclear energy is an important source of renewable energy, containing about 20% of the total global electricity production. It is a pollution-free process and does not generate greenhouse gases or other pollutants.

Disadvantages of Nuclear Energy

Risk of nuclear accidents

Contrary to popular belief, the risks of nuclear disasters are higher than those from fossil fuel disasters. There is a much greater probability of a nuclear accident causing serious damage to both humans and the environment.

Nuclear power facilities also pose a significant threat to nearby populations, resulting in loss of life and severe economic effects.

Radioactive waste Disposal problems

Nuclear waste causes similar problems as conventional waste to reduce property values and build adjacent structures or sites on public land.

Public anxiety may be amplified by the lack of effective long-term solutions for the disposal of this material.

Environmental impact

Nuclear power generation facilities can be used for environmental remediation efforts by removing highly radioactive waste from nuclear sites and storing it safely where it cannot impact public health or common property resources.

However, these projects demand large areas of land such as uninhabited wilderness or even deep underground repositories. This adversely affects local communities and their economy.

High Cost of Installation of Plant

Unlike other energy sources like solar panels, wind turbines, and hydroelectricity plants, nuclear power generation facilities require large areas of land for their installation.

These sites are likely to become uninhabited once the plant is shut down.

Lack of need for modern waste disposal facilities

The low cost of nuclear energy does not reflect the high costs associated with nuclear waste disposal. The typical nuclear waste repository (NWR) project will cost more than $100 billion per site and take 10 to 30 years to complete.

Nuclear waste disposal is the process by which radioactive waste materials are dealt with. The key facilities in these projects are the waste repositories (or storage sites), where the wastes are stored until they no longer pose a threat to human health or the environment.

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