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Nuclear Energy Explained: How does it work? 1/3

Nuclear Energy Explained: How does it work? 1/3


Have you ever been in an argument
about nuclear power? We have, and we found it
frustrating and confusing, so let’s try and get to grips
with this topic. [Intro] It all started in the 1940s. After the shock and horror of the war
and the use of the atomic bomb, nuclear energy promised to be a peaceful
spin-off of the new technology, helping the world get back on its feet. Everyone’s imagination was running wild. Would electricity become free? Could nuclear power help
settle the Antarctic? Would there be nuclear-powered cars,
planes, or houses? It seemed that this was just a few
years of hard work away. One thing was certain: the future
was atomic. Just a few years later, there was a sort
of atomic age hangover; as it turned out, nuclear power was very
complicated and very expensive. Turning physics into engineering
was easy on paper, but hard in real life. Also, private companies thought that
nuclear power was much too risky as an investment; most of them would much
rather stick with gas, coal, and oil. But there were many people who
didn’t just want to abandon the promise of the atomic age;
an exciting new technology, the prospect of enormously
cheap electricity, the prospect of being independent
of oil and gas imports, and, in some cases, a secret desire to
possess atomic weapons provided a strong motivation
to keep going. Nuclear power’s finest hour finally came
in the early 1970s, when war in the Middle East caused oil prices
to skyrocket worldwide. Now, commercial interest and investment
picked up at a dazzling pace. More than half of all the nuclear reactors
in the world were built between 1970 and 1985. But which type of reactor to build,
given how many different types there were to choose from? A surprising underdog candidate
won the day: the light water reactor. It wasn’t very innovative, and it wasn’t
too popular with scientists, but it had some decisive advantages: it was there, it worked, and it wasn’t
terribly expensive. So, what does a light water reactor do? Well, the basic principle is shockingly
simple: it heats up water using an artificial
chain reaction. Nuclear fission releases several million
times more energy than any chemical reaction could. Really heavy elements on the brink of
stability, like uranium-235, get bombarded with neutrons. The neutron is absorbed, but the result
is unstable. Most of the time, it immediately splits
into fast-moving lighter elements, some additional free neutrons, and
energy in the form of radiation. The radiation heats the surrounding water, while the neutrons repeat the process with other atoms, releasing more neutrons and radiation in a closely controlled chain reaction. Very different from the fast, destructive runaway reaction in an atomic bomb. In our light water reactor, a moderator
is needed to control the neutrons’ energy. Simple, ordinary water does the job, which
is very practical, since water’s used to drive the turbines anyway. The light water reactor became prevalent
because it’s simple and cheap. However, it’s neither the safest, most
efficient, nor technically elegant nuclear reactor. The renewed nuclear hype lasted barely
a decade, though; in 1979, the Three Mile Island nuclear
plant in Pennsylvania barely escaped a catastrophe when
its core melted. In 1986, the Chernobyl catastrophe
directly threatened Central Europe with a radioactive cloud, and in 2011
the drawn-out Fukushima disaster sparked new discussions and concerns. While in the 1980s 218 new nuclear power
reactors went live, their number and nuclear’s global share of
electricity production has stagnated since the end of the ’80s. So what’s the situation today? Today, nuclear energy meets around 10% of
the world’s energy demand. There are about 439 nuclear reactors
in 31 countries. About 70 new reactors are under
construction in 2015, most of them in countries
which are growing quickly. All in all, 116 new reactors are
planned worldwide. Most nuclear reactors were built more than
25 years ago with pretty old technology. More than 80% are various types of
light water reactor. Today, many countries are faced with
a choice: the expensive replacement of the aging reactors, possibly with more
efficient, but less tested models, or a move away from nuclear power towards
newer or older technology with different cost and environmental
impacts. So, should we use nuclear energy? The pro and contra arguments will be
presented here next week. Subscribe, and then you won’t miss it! Our channel has a new sponsor:
Audible.com. If you use the URL
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support our channel. Producing our videos takes a lot of time,
and we fill a lot of it by listening to audiobooks. For a really entertaining book,
we recommend “Into Thin Air” by Jon Krakauer. He’s a great writer, and the story is
really absorbing and true. Go toto get
the book for free. Thanks a lot to Audible for supporting our
channel and to you for watching! Subtitles by the Amara.org community


Reader Comments

  1. If a Nuclear Powerplant goes poff every 30 years, and the nuclei that comes out takes a long time for nature to take care of, how long would it take for earth to be 100% polluted with radioactivity? And 10%? I mean the landmass. Not the population.

  2. The United States needs to start developing additional sources of energy within its own territory. Why are new nuclear power plants, the safest source of electric energy ever discovered, not permitted? There is no end to the lies people have been made to believe about Nuclear energy. Modern technology is able to develop these sources of power without any damage to the environment. France gets 80% of its power from nuclear power plants without any problems. Needless to say, without sufficient energy, the United States will not be able to defend itself. All the Elite has to do is cut off the oil supply from the middle east.

  3. Im so sad that Nuclear isn't our main source of electricity, it's the lowest death per kw and the most powerful source of energy we have today.

  4. Solar and wind are a joke. You cant conserve nature, which is the collective goal, and keep putting up these farms. Maybe eventually we can harness their energy as desired but we were so far along on the nuclear path. We almost had it. I believe nuclear is too cheap and efficient so monopolies would lose income on too many fronts. so naturally these conglomerates would lobby and monger fear with nuclear energy. But i digress

  5. we have nuke reactor cause the bi product can make nuke weapons, there is a reactor that is safe, cheaper, and will not cause a melt down but it can not make the bi product so your masters are going to stick with the nuke reactor. your masters are going to do whatever they want with your life

  6. Can you do Fukushima and the subsequent poison in the ocean…or would y'all get in trouble with men in black suits for that?
    Or at least do "How does radiation poison work on nature/humans?

  7. How much Co2 does it realease in the whole cycle? Building plant, getting uranium out of the ground, transporting/storing waste etc.? Thats the number that are interesting – not that "It doesn't release ANY Co2" thats just bullshit.
    And in comparison to other energysources per kWh, of course.

  8. Thanks a lot to our lovely Patrons!

    Stephen Bassett, Raphael Hviding, Sam Elitzer, Andrzej Rejman, OpenGG, Andrew Jagasothy, jordan gardner, AgentK, Mehmet Sevil, Carly Tawse, K A I, Kevin Dam, Charlie, Christopher Lang, Nat Ryall, Jeff Le, Nicholas Holtz, Devir Islas, Arnas Valeika, Kirstie, Francesca Monteiro, James Craver, Broderick, Duncan Cheong, Derek, Juan Manuel Corredor, Osric Lord-Williams, Scott Zell, Jeroen Koerts, Patrick Eyrich, tekbit, Chris Linardos, Tony Morley, Jónatan Nilsson, Nat Thomas Golder, Zr4g0n, Cody, Michal, Caroline Andrewes, Alex Kaplan, Tom Alexander Kutil, Vincent, Okan, Sasha C, KokLiang Lim, Marcelo, Mikel De Uranga, Dean Herbert, Anton Efimenko, trefmanic, Adam Smith, David Garcia Quintas, Gaëtan Duvaux, Eduardo Barbosa, maarten ligtenberg, Ghitea Andrei Paul, Ozan, Ryan, Larry Bunyard, Josh Maleszewski, Volodymyr Khomenko, Sebastian Laiseca, Chase, Michael Slade, Scarlet Barton, Matthew Gill, Aaron, Alexander Heavens, Alexander Ahn, Arrngrim, Fluffy19, Adam Primaeros, Jan Schmid, Sara Shah,
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  9. Just press the A3 (AZ) button they said.

    Just lie about the RBMK (light water reactor) they said.

    Just try to forget what happend.

    The the chernobyl air boils…

    Who think that a good idea to build an LVR reactor on japan coast ??? They questioned.

    Hommer not sleep at night so hi nearly melt down the reactor poor Hommer.

    And the wind blows…

    My grandfather was a likvidator in chernobyl after iraq. Furtunetly he came back alive and live until 2002.

    Poland get a huge dozis from the 4th block with love, from our friends.

    Respect for everybody who work and nowdays work in chernobyl to make it safe.
    Chernobyl never will happen again !

  10. Nuclear energy is the way to go I’m telling you. The enviromental activists are brainwashed by the global left. Real solutions are needed rather than stupid consepts like ”Enviromental racism” (The fuck even is that?)

  11. I'm sorry but all I'm getting from all these sites regarding thorium reactors is that "it's a good idea to solve all the problems for nuclear reactors, but it's a bad idea". Is it because it doesn't provide an extra amount of nuclear power to provide for the nuclear weapons and wouldn't be worth it anymore? Can someone please provide an argument explaining the economic drawbacks of this concept of thorium reactors other than the fear in interference of income streams of all energy source suppliers and politics that involve the possibility of becoming a superpower through our economy? No one wants to be #1, always #2 in a political viewpoint. That makes me sad. Our own fear is fueling and preventing us from making groundbreaking contributions to further develop our society. I understand that there's no absolute solution to every problem like this, but at least we should make an effort for something that could possibly change our future more than what anything could in the long term. It's sad knowing there is no real explanation as to why we're not funding these projects.

  12. So what if we disabled nuclear energy entirely? What would happen, what could we use as a substitute and how would it work?

  13. kurzgesagt you would have to be one of the most talented intellectual groups in history to have the predictive ability that your video series claim to have. Revolutionary insight you might say, but people who fancy themselves revolutionaries are 1 out of 100, actual revolutionaries, or 99 out of 100, extremely naive or intentionally deceptive.

  14. My phone just went off with an emergency warning about one of these having an accident up the street from me so hopefully this helps me Uhm not cry??

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