A significant portion of the electricity in the world comes from nuclear power, with numerous countries, including the US, Russia, China and India, relying on the efficiency of this energy source, which basically results from the process that we know as fission. Because of this fact, these countries are now focusing on the development of more nuclear reactors to generate more energy to meet the world’s energy needs.
To harness energy from fission, the nucleus of an atom will be split into 2 different lighter elements, which leads to a form of elemental transmutation that produces by-product particles, including photons that come in the form of free neutrons, gamma rays and alpha and beta particles. With regards to heavy elements, fission occurs as an exothermic reaction that can produce nuclear energy and explosions of nuclear weapons, where the most important fuels being plutonium and uranium. In terms of producing heat and electricity, power plants or nuclear reactors would be the ones most responsible for controlling nuclear fission.
While the non-renewable energy being produced in this process is said to be carbon-free, some energy experts and environmentalists still push that this type of energy is bringing more harm than good to the people and the environment, and in the middle of the subject pertaining to nuclear reactions is fission. However, there are also advocates who see the good things that it brings. To come up with a well-informed opinion about this, it is best to take a look at the pros and cons of fission.
List of Pros of Fission
1. It does not contribute to the air pollutants in the environment.
Unlike other methods of producing energy that release harmful chemicals into the environment, fission is claimed to be void of carbon dioxide emissions. Even if it necessitates the use of fuel, its capability to produce huge amounts of energy with less fuel consumption is making it safer as opposed to other energy-production processes. Air pollution is made worse with the presence hazardous chemicals and gases in the atmosphere, and this technology does not produce such.
2. It does not need costly energy fuels.
Another big advantage to fission is that it mostly needs uranium for its fuel requirement. Considering that there is sufficient supply of this element, the demand for producing energy will be met efficiently with less expense. In addition, the ability of this element to break down easily makes the process faster without requiring much energy consumption to burn, unlike in processing fossil fuels.
3. It is capable of providing energy for 2 to 3 years.
The fuel, once used in fission, is stated to give off energy that can last for years, unlike in fossil fuels where there is a need to refill several times to support energy needs over a period of time. This is one factor that makes fission less expensive.
4. It does not make global warming worse.
The natural process of the greenhouse effect is responsible in keep our planet warm, which is crucial to sustain life, with greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and methane causing the phenomenon. However, too much emission of these gases is stated to cause our planet to become warmer more than it should be, which is known to us today as global warming. Now, in the process of nuclear fission, no carbon dioxide and other related gases are emitted, which makes the technology less harmful to the environment in terms of emissions.
5. It produces a nuclear reaction that is important.
As scientists suggest, fission is an essential form of nuclear reaction as its process will result to energy release that provides electricity to homes, businesses, educational institutions, industrial facilities and the community. Now, without this technology, nuclear reactors would not be able to achieve their purpose.
6. It helps with the field of astronomy.
With the innovation of fission technology and the construction of a nuclear reactor in outer space, astronomy projects to produce energy in bases on the moon and other planets, such as Mars, will become a reality in the near future. By using fission, we will be able to provide electric power for the astronauts operating in space.
List of Cons of Fission
1. It can harm the environment in a way that it disposes waste.
In spite of the importance of performing fission to produce electricity, its process still results to the production of waste that can be harmful to both human beings and the environment. Considering the accumulation of nuclear waste it can produce without proper disposal sites, there will be a need to find locations to dispose this waste to prevent harmful environmental effects.
2. It poses a risk to public health.
Basically, the process of fission will emit radiation that will be harmful to people, where research even shows that it can cause anemia and other types of cancer. This is the reason why people working in nuclear plants are required to wear protective gear. Also, people who are constantly exposed to this radiation are considered prone to cancer.
3. It can cause deadly and costly accidents.
Records show that there have been accidents occurring in nuclear power that resulted to deaths. In terms of economy, nuclear plant disasters are truly far more expensive to resolve, as they entails closing of the plants and relocating the people who are affected.
4. It has the potential to open the door for terrorists to create powerful weapons.
Fuel spent in fission can be reprocessed into plutonium, which is an ingredient to make nuclear bombs and other weapons that can cause disaster on a wide scale.
With this list of the pros and cons of fission, it is easy to conclude that using this process will definitely bring about some upsides and downsides. This means that national leaders allowing the use of this energy source need to take into consideration these factors to be able to work on mitigating the effects of this technology. This way, they will be able to wisely decide upon pursuing to use fission to meet their countries’ energy needs.
Natalie Regoli, Esq. is the author of this post and the editor-in-chief of our blog. She received her B.A. in Economics from the University of Washington and her Masters in Law from The University of Texas School of Law. In addition to being a seasoned writer, Natalie has almost two decades of experience as a lawyer and banker. If you would like to reach out to contact Natalie, then go here to send her a message.