Nuclear Power in the Modern World Essay

Uses of radioisotopes Nuclear Power Note: nuclear power works by radioactivity “Radioisotopes are naturally occurring or synthetic radioactive form of an element. Most radioisotopes are made by bombarding a stable element with neutrons in the core of a nuclear reactor. The radiations given off by radioisotopes are easy to detect. Most natural isotopes of relative atomic mass less than 208 are not radioactive. Those from 210 and up are all radioactive. ”(Radioisotope – Hutchinson Encyclopedia) (Radioisotopes image) An example of such radioisotopes is uranium, which has been serving us for the past 50 years.

Uranium is found in various parts of the world, this metal is used to produce about 11% of the world’s energy needs by different procedures. In 1956, the first large-scale nuclear power station started in England. Nuclear energy helped the world not just in power, but other aspects to do with nuclear too, some were medical uses and agriculture (Energy Resources: Nuclear power). The amount of energy released during each nuclear reaction is different, this is indicated in the formula below, (Uranium) When radioisotopes are created, energy is released, allowing people to use it through various ways.

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Natural radioactive decay is a natural process, which an isotope spontaneously decays into another element through alpha, beta or gamma decay. In this process, four kinds of radioactive rays can be produced, alpha, beta, gamma, or neutron rays. Atoms that have a large nucleus tend to decay by alpha to reduce the size of their nucleus. When atoms have too many protons, extreme repulsion is caused and therefore a helium nucleus (also known as an alpha particle) is emitted, bumping with the walls of the nucleus. Beta decay is a high-energy electron that has lots of kinetic energy.

This happens when the atom is unstable and the ratio of neutrons is that of when protons are high, and neutrons tend to turn into a proton and an electron. In the end comes the gamma radiation that accompanies a nuclear decay. It is basically high-energy electromagnetic radiations that are a result of energy released from a nucleus. (HowStuffWorks). A reactor is used by a nuclear power station to extract the energy from isotopes. Nuclear power stations work like burning fossil fuels, however, a ‘chain reaction’ is used to create heat instead. A reactor in the station uses Uranium rods as fuel, using nuclear fission for heat.

Nuclear fission is the process where the nucleus of an atom is split into two smaller parts producing a lighter nucleus and free neutrons hence inturn releasing energy. In a reactor, a neutron hits a uranium-235 atom; the neutron is absorbed into the atom creating uranium-236; a radioisotope. Uranium-236 causes the atom to go through the process of fission releasing some energy in the form of radiation and heat (Basic Nuclear Fission). This fission can produce some products, which their masses always add up to 236. For example: – 235U + 1 neutron 2 neutrons + 92Kr + 142Ba + ENERGY

An ongoing series of nuclear fission is called a chain-reaction. Fission is the action of dividing or splitting something into two or more parts. When a chain-reaction happens at a fast rate, more heat is produced which might cause the reactor to explode: too much gas in the reactor meaning excess pressure. For safety, a chain-reaction is controlled using control rods made of boron or cadmium. These control rods are lowered to reduce or stop the chain reaction. Moderators of graphite or water are included to slow the reaction down as the fission of uranium atoms works more effectively with slow neutrons.

As a safety precaution, the whole reactor is protected with concrete and steel to absorb any gamma rays emitted. (Basic Nuclear Fission) All isotopes behave identically and have same chemical properties. Radioisotopes can be detected using different methods according to the type of radiation it emits. This allows nuclear energy to be useful in many fields such as medicine, industry, and agriculture. In medicine, most radioisotopes used are gamma emitters, as alpha cannot penetrate through skin and beta is always accompanied by gamma. Cobalt-60 is a radioisotope of cobalt-59 that undergoes beta radiation.

It is artificially made and therefore has a long half-life of 5. 27years. Along with the beta radiation it emits gamma rays. Cobalt-60 is used to treat cancer by killing the cancer cells using gamma radiation. The NRX reactor is where cobalt-60 is used to treat cancer (Figure1). As the patient lies under the NRX reactor, a beam of gamma rays passes through the jaws and collimators that shape the beam directed towards the patient. The beam will destroy the cancer cells as well as some other healthy cells, and therefore the placement of the beam and the dosage must be very accurate.

However, in some cases, the goal of radiation treatment is the complete destruction of an entire tumor as stated above. In other cases, the aim is to shrink a tumor and relieve symptoms. In either case, doctors plan treatment to spare as much healthy tissue as possible. The source’s placement can be moved at different angles to destroy the cancer cells from the nearest angle in order not to harm many healthy tissues. Cobalt-60 has been very effective, currently new technologies are trying to replace it however because of their cost effectiveness cobalt-60 has remained the most used. Cobalt-60 Therapy Unit) Another facet is the Iodine-123, which is known as a gamma emitter, which is known as a systematic radiation therapy that has a half-life of 13. 1 hours. The materials may be taken by mouth or injected into the body. It is very useful for medical uses as gamma rays and can be detected from outside the body and it does not cause mush of ionization that can damage healthy cells or maybe cause cancer. There are many uses for Iodine-123 some of which are a thyroid scan which uses Iodine-123 to take pictures of the thyroid gland.

A small dosage of I-123 is swallowed, injected or inhaled by the patient, this tracer takes 3-6 hours before it accumulates in the thyroid gland. As the patient returns to be examined, a gamma camera, or a PET scanner is used to take pictures of the thyroid gland (Figure2). The scanner shows the areas where the thyroid is under-active or overactive. The scanner works with a computer to measure the amount of I-123 absorbed and to produce special images of the function and structure of the thyroid glands. As the thyroid changes food to energy, we can use the radioactive tracer to see how much tracer the thyroid gland absorbs. Radioactive Iodine) Another use of Iodin-123 is to identify any blocked kidneys in a person’s body. Radioiodine is injected into the patient’s body. Within a few minutes, the kidneys should have extracted it form the blood stream and then work with it and pass it along with the urine. A Geiger Muller counter is placed in front of the kidneys from outside the body as iodine-123 emits gamma rays. If the G. M counter detects any iodine-123, then we can know which of the two kidneys is blocked. (Radioactive Iodine) Nuclear energy has become one of the most viable sources for meeting the world’s increasing energy needs.

Most of the energy consumption in the world comes from nuclear resources that have been developing and being often used after the artificial radioisotopes were introduced. While on the other hand, protagonists’ say that nuclear energy created one of the most disastrous problems of the 20th century, which is global warming and climate change. According to Figure3, more than 80% of the radiation dosage comes from background radiation which we cannot stop from being emitted, this backs up the point that nuclear energy cannot be stopped from being used in balance to the great uses it is giving us, from medical to industrial…

Some nuclear power stations have been discharging their hot water into the sees instead of using hot water towers, however, this is not necessarily an issue as it is being solved using the hot water towers. (Radiation and pollution) In comparison to other energy sources, Nuclear energy has remained the most environmentally friendly resource releasing the least amount of greenhouse gases that have been causing the global warming and climate change problems (Figure4).

However, a clear disadvantage is that is not too safe to work with, only professionals whom are familiar with all their properties and aspects can experiment with these nuclear energy sources. All the wastes that come from nuclear power stations are high-level wastes that contain daughter products. The half-life of these daughter products can reach up to a thousands years, and if they are radioactive, they constitute a danger on the people and environment around it. These high level wastes have been melted and changed into glass then safely disposed underground to prevent any harm to the world. (Radiation and pollution)

Political issues in the world have been increasing; the hatred between people and the countries is reaching a point of violence where nuclear power is being used in deadly ways instead of beneficial ways like medicine. We all know that nuclear energy is a non-renewable source that we will be out of within the next 100years, this means we have to try to save it or use it efficiently. Ever since the US hit their atomic bomb on Japan, it all started, and this is where it all has to end and influence the world. (Nuclear Politics) Nuclear energy is the cleanest, cheapest, most efficient, and safest energy source in the world.

However, the dilemma remains of whether it is a burden or a blessing. It has great potential to become the most used energy source. In our modern world, nuclear energy has been saving so many people because of the medical uses. If the world will continue this way and if the political issues help save this problem, nuclear energy might become the world’s most efficient energy source. In my point of view, because the world is taking advantage of the negative aspects with regards to nuclear power, more reasonable methods (in my opinion) include transmutation which is a process in which toxic elements are transformed into less toxic substances.

For instance, plutonium can be turned to uranium. This is done by using “fast consumer” reactors, which use the discarded radioactive isotopes of nuclear reactors and “consume” them, leaving isotopes, which are less dangerous and have only about half the life and potency of the original waste. In conclusion, from the time humankind started using nuclear energy they’ve always ? seen it as a powerful, cleaner and cheaper type of energy. Using it ? for the production of anything from devastating weapons to power ? plants to electricity and even to combat diseases, nuclear energy has ? een very useful and should be used in the right way. Works Cited “Abnormal whole body PET/CT scan with multiple metastases from a cancer”. Online image. Nuclear medicine sandbox. Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Web. 30 Nov. 2009. http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/User:Myohan/Nuclear_Medicine_Sandbox “Average life cycle greenhouse gas emissions for different energy sources from a 2000 IAEA study. ” Online graph. Clean as a whistle. Freedom for fission. 30 Nov. 2009. http://www. freedomforfission. org. uk/saf/pollution. html “Basic Nuclear Fission. Oracle ThinkQuest Library. Web. 30 Nov. 2009. http://library. thinkquest. org/17940/texts/fission/fission. html “Cobalt-60 Therapy Unit. ” Canadian Nuclear Association. Web. 30 Nov. 2009. http://www. cna. ca/curriculum/cna_nuc_tech/cobalt60-eng. asp? bc=Cobalt-60%20Therapy%20Unit&pid=Cobalt-60%20Therapy%20Unit “Energy Resources: Nuclear power. ” Andy Darvill’s Science site: Home. Web. 30 Nov. 2009. http://www. darvill. clara. net/altenerg/nuclear. htm “HowStuffWorks “How Nuclear Radiation Works”” Howstuffworks “Science” Web. 30 Nov. 009. http://science. howstuffworks. com/nuclear2. htm “Nuclear Politics. ” Oracle ThinkQuest Library. Web. 30 Nov. 2009. http://library. thinkquest. org/3471/nuclear_politics. html “NXR reactor”. Online image. Cobal-60 Therapy Unit. Canadian nuclear association. 30 Nov. 2009. http://www. cna. ca/curriculum/cna_nuc_tech/cobalt60-eng. asp? bc=Cobalt-60%20Therapy%20Unit&pid=Cobalt-60%20Therapy%20Unit “Proportion of an average yearly radiation dosage based on the American Institute of Physics handbook. All figures are in mSv”. Online graph.

Clean as a whistle. Freedom for fission. 30 Nov. 2009. http://www. freedomforfission. org. uk/saf/pollution. html “Radiation and pollution. ” Freedom For Fission. Web. 30 Nov. 2009. http://www. freedomforfission. org. uk/saf/pollution. html “Radioisotopes – Modern Physics | TutorVista. ” Tutorvista. com – Online Tutoring, Homework Help for Math, Science, English from Best Online Tutor. Web. 30 Nov. 2009. http://www. tutorvista. com/content/physics/physics-ii/modern-physics/radioisotopes. php “Radioactive Iodine Uses for Thyroid Diseases Brochure. American Thyroid Association: Thyroid Cancer, Hyperthyroid, Hypothyroid, Thyroiditis, Thyroid Clinical Trials, Thyroid Patient Health Information. Web. 30 Nov. 2009. http://www. thyroid. org/patients/patient_brochures/radioactive. html “Radioisotope – Hutchinson Encyclopedia Article about Radioisotope. ” Hutchinson Encyclopedia. Web. 06 Mar. 2010. http://encyclopedia. farlex. com/radioisotope ———————– Energy = Mass x Velocity of light 2 Figure 1 (NRX reactor) Figure 3 (Proportion of an average yearly radiation dosage) Figure 4 (Average life cycle greenhouse gas emissions) [pic] Thyroid 4 Normal kidney