GEOL 1 Lecture Notes - Lecture 25: Acute Radiation Syndrome, High-Level Waste, Nuclear Proliferation

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21 Sep 2020
Hao Tran
Physical Geology
Notes: Geol 1
(Nonrenewable Energy cont.)
Geology in the News
Nuclear Energy
Getting atoms to break apart
Releases a lot of energy (radiation)
Have to harness the energy safely
Nuclear Fuel
Uranium Ore
Deposit with high concentration
Yellow cake
First step in process of getting energy
Want mostly U235 not pure
U isotopes (235 U vs. 238 U) separated centrifuges
Want the fuel enriched in 235 U relative to 238 U
Power plants: 3-5% enrichment
Weapons: 90% enrichment
Why is 235 U needed?
Firing neutrons takes time and energy
Splitting 235 U atoms starts a chain reaction
Nuclear Power-Generation
Chain reaction is controlled
Cooling system removes the heat energy
Requires a lot of water
4 million gal/yr in some plants
Nuclear Advantages
1. Large US Reserve
Estimated 130+ yr supply assuming current production rate
2. Reduce C emissions
3. Decrease fossil fuel dependence
4. Produces tremendous amounts of energy
1 kg of U produces 3 million times more energy than 1 kg
of coal
5. Good Safety record
Current US Use
Around 100 plants, 20% of US electricity
Use declining since 1996
Half the active plants will close by 2020
No new reactors ordered between 1978 and 2010
48% of the ones ordered before 1878 were never built
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