Nuclear energy is produced from the nucleus of the tiny particles that make up matter. The nucleus of a particle stores large quantities of nuclear energy. Canadian nuclear power plants use the nucleus of a substance called uranium as fuel. The nuclear energy in the uranium nucleus is transformed into thermal energy. This thermal energy is used to boil water to produce very hot, high-pressure steam. Then, the steam is used to turn the turbines of an electricity generator like other sources of energy, nuclear energy has significant advantages and disadvantages. Nuclear energy is the most highly concentrated form of energy. Just 1 kg of uranium has more energy than 2000 kg of coal! Nuclear power plants have some major disadvantages. They are complex and expensive to build and maintain. Nuclear fuel is highly radioactive. The radiation that it gives off can damage or kill living cells. Some forms of nuclear fuel are used in atomic weapons. This means that uranium mines and nuclear power plants must be designed and monitored to ensure safety. A number of serious accidents has occurred at nuclear power plants around the world. These accidents released large amounts of radioactive materials into the atmosphere and into nearby bodies of water. Unlike hydroelectricity, uranium is also a non-renewable energy resource. This means that it is a resource that is in limited supply and could eventually be completely used up. Another important disadvantage of nuclear power is that uranium remains dangerous for a very long time. Used nuclear fuel (called spent or depleted fuel) must be safely stored, and not allowed to escape into the environment. Radioactive substances break down into less harmful materials, but this process can take hundreds or thousands of years. We have to be willing to safely store nuclear waste. This is a very long and expensive commitment. The advantages and disadvantages of nuclear power are quite dramatic. Nuclear energy is one of the most controversial of all energy sources.
Figure: Nuclear Reactor
A small quantity of radioactive material can produce an enormous amount of energy. For instance one ton of Uranium-235 would provide as much energy as produced by 3 million tons of coal or 12 million barrels of oil. India is rich in certain radioactive materials. Uranium mines are located in Singhbhum in Bihar and parts of Rajasthan. Most abundant Monazite sands are present on the shores of' Kerala. Thorium is derived from the monazite sands. The major nuclear power plants in our country are located in Tarapur (Maharashtra), Kota (Rajasthan), Kalpakkam (Tamilnadu), Kakarpara (Gujarat), Kaswar (Karnataka) and Narora (Uttar Pradesh).