Despite observances of volatile weather patterns, there’s no doubt that the climate of our world is changing. While some may say that these changes have been exaggerated, others would say they’ve been completed overlooked by those seeking to profit from the destruction of our planet. Whatever your beliefs on the subject, alternative methods to powering our world are essential.
The nuclear option
One of the most promising types of clean energy that’s constantly growing and expanding is nuclear power. Though Tesla cars may seem like they run on nuclear fusion (just try getting an auto title loan on a car with plutonium in its backseat), those are just regular old electric machines. Nuclear power is a different beast altogether, but it’s built on the same basic principles.
Two types of nuclear power
There are two types of nuclear power, nuclear fusion and nuclear fission. Both of these types of power use harvested energy from atomic reactions to create energy, but they do so in different ways. Nuclear fission occurs when a single neutrino is fired a cluster of Uranium-235. When the neutrino collides with the cluster of uranium, it causes a split that release a massive amount of energy. Extra neutrinos then fire off from other clusters of uranium, causing a chain reaction. This massive build up of energy heats liquid water, which evaporates into steam and turns giant turbines that turn mechanical energy into electrical power. The greatest risk in fission is that the chain reacting nature of fission can cause power plants to meltdown, just think of the famous incident of Chernobyl.
Fusion works much differently and occurs in nature. Fusion is what occurs our sun and brings life to us each day. Fusion occurs when two hydrogen atoms (the lowest on the periodic table) are joined to form helium atoms (next up on the periodic table). These helium atoms then join to create the next atoms up on the periodic table and so on. Eventually, heavier and heavier atoms are formed until, in the instance of natural fusion, stars eventually supernova due to the volatility of their compounds. Unlike fission reactors, fusion reactors do not melt down due to the massive amount of energy expenditure it takes for two atoms to come together.
A long journey to clean energy
Despite the apparent differences between fusion and fission reactions, most people still confuse the two, believing that any nuclear reactor is destined to meltdown and cause an extreme loss of life. This simply just isn’t the case with fusion reactors. And the same goes for atomic weapons. The first bombs that were dropped on Japan were atomic bombs. The bombs we have today are of a significantly higher payload, no known as hydrogen bombs. You can see from this comparison that fusion is a reaction that yields much more energy, due to the more deadly capabilities of the bombs. This is also more anti-fusion stigma. Fusion reactors work completely different than fusion bombs.
Whatever the future holds for energy solutions, nuclear power is sure to be one of the most influential building blocks of the future.