Nuclear energy should not be banned. Nuclear energy is more economical, causes less pollution and is a more viable option than coal-fired power stations. This essay will look at the good and bad sides of nuclear energy, some alternatives that we could implement instead of nuclear, and what nuclear energy is and what fuel is used to power the nuclear power plants. Nuclear energy is produced in either controlled nuclear fission or fusion in a nuclear reaction. The amount of energy released is much greater than that released from chemical processes such as combustion. The energy source used to heat the water, to create the steam that drives the turbines in a nuclear power plant is uranium.

Although it is usually in small amounts, uranium does occur naturally in most rocks. Uranium is mined, milled and enriched to form a powder, which is compressed into pellets and placed in tubes. These tubes are the fuel elements for the core of the nuclear reactor. People do not realise how potentially more economical nuclear energy and nuclear power plants are. Nuclear fuel is small in volume when compared to how much energy is produced.

While the average coal-fired power plant needs approximately eleven train loads of coal daily, a nuclear power plant of the same size only requires one truck load of fuel a month. Nuclear energy is also seemingly more reliable, as the fuel needed to create the energy, uranium, is evenly deposited around the globe. Unlike oil, which cannot be accessed if international relations breakdown, uranium would still be able to be accessed and fuel the reactor in a nuclear power plant. Nuclear energy also causes less pollution than other sources of energy, such as coal. If the electricity produced by nuclear reactors in one year had been generated by burning coal, we would have an extra sixteen billion tonnes of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere. Although there is less pollution and more energy produced through the use of nuclear energy and power, there are, as with all things, down sides.

Many organisations, such as Greenpeace, are against uranium mining as once uranium ore is mined; it releases radon gas, which can cause cancer. Uranium mining can also endanger miners because exposure to the radon gas and radiation released may cause cancer and birth defects in their children. To combat this, however, all workers wear protective clothing and carry devices that monitor the amount of radiation they receive. Waste disposal also poses a problem. By-products of the fission ing of uranium-235 remain radioactive for thousands of years. They require safe disposal away from society until they lose their significant radiation value.

Many storage sites have been constructed underground, only to be filled within months of completion. There is a limit to the amount of nuclear fuel that can be used per year, as storage facilities are not sufficient to store the world's nuclear waste. An alternative to nuclear energy is hydrogen-based energy, which seems to be the ideal fuel of the future - clean burning, efficient and in potentially limitless supply. While this is a good alternative to nuclear energy, storing hydrogen in liquid form requires expensive high-pressure tanks.

Recent research, however, has found a way to store hydrogen in blocks of ice. With a little more research, hydrogen-based energy might be viable, at this moment in time, though, nuclear seems more reasonable. Some more alternatives to nuclear energy are solar power, using the suns energy to our advantage, hydro-electricity, using the energy in moving water to create energy and natural gas, which is mainly methane and is very safe and easy to transport via pipes, roads or sea. Nuclear energy should not be banned, to totally ban something without testing it's full potential is wrong. While some of the alternatives are ready to be used right now, we should not ban nuclear energy completely as it could be a good energy source for the world in years to come. Nuclear energy might have some draw backs, but so does everything in this world.

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L. , 5/10/2002, "Hydrogen utopia comes two steps closer" New Scientist, page 14.