Nuclear power provides a clean and efficient alternative to using fossil fuels but comes with the low probability risk of a destructive nuclear meltdown.
How Nuclear Power Works: A nuclear power plant uses a steam turbine generator to generate electricity. The only difference between a nuclear power plant and a power plant that uses fossil fuels is how the water is heated to create the steam to run the generator.
Nuclear power plants use nuclear fission to create the heat needed to heat the water into steam. Fission is when a single atom is splits into two atoms, creating an enormous release of energy that is used in the form of heat. Nuclear fission happens naturally to certain particles every day, but uranium-235 is what is used most commonly in nuclear reactors today.
Then, the heat from the nuclear fission is used to heat water into steam, which is used to rotate a steam turbine generator, which is used to produce electricity.
Pros and Cons of Nuclear Power: The biggest pro of using nuclear power is that it does not rely on fossil fuels to create electricity, therefore carbon dioxide emissions are very minimal.
Nuclear plants are also much more efficient, being able to create large quantities of electricity with small amounts of uranium.
There are also some very negative aspects of nuclear power. Mining and transporting uranium runs the risks of releasing dangerous radioactivity that can be harmful to people. Also, nuclear plants produce a large amount of nuclear waste that can be very hazardous to humans and the environment, and is very costly to remove and store safely.
In the United States, nuclear power provides about 20% of the usable electricity.