Category Archives: Why We Need Nuclear Power

THE NUCLEAR ATOM

J. J. Thomson, director of the famed Cavendish Laboratory in Cambridge, England, had discovered the electron in 1897, as noted above. At the time, there was no clear picture of the structure of an atom, but if it had electrons that had negative charge, then by the laws of electricity it had to have positive charges that would neutralize them, […]

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ANATOMY OF A REACTOR

The Wolf Creek nuclear power plant sits on the flat plains of Kansas about 60 miles south of Topeka and 4 miles from Burlington, about 200 miles east of the wheat fields I farmed as a kid. A 5,090-acre lake filled with crappie, walleye, large and smallmouth bass, and other game fish provides cooling water for the reactor and also […]

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HOW BAD IS PLUTONIUM?

Sensational assertions have been made that plutonium is the most hazardous substance known to mankind. But is that right? In fact, it is the greatest myth perpetuated about radiation. Plutonium is an a emitter, no different from radon or radium or any other radiation that undergoes a decay. However, plutonium is not nearly as radioactive as an equivalent mass of […]

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Breeder Reactors

And that is not the end of the story either. Current and planned reactors are nearly all based on using uranium enriched with 2 35U as a fuel. But there are reactors that can use 238U to make new nuclear fuel. These are known as breeder reactors or fast neutron reactors. Recall from Chapter 6 that 238U does not fis­sion […]

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