Nuclear power obsolete?

Bill Gates: it's 'ideal' for tackling climate challenges

Bill Gates: Nuclear power 'ideal' for tackling climate challenges

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates has argued that nuclear power is an ideal technology to decarbonise the global energy system, as it is less prone to volatility and variable outputs compared to renewables.

In a blog post detailing his key learnings from 2018 and predictions for the year ahead, Gates claimed that a string of negative news stories last year - including those exposing rising global emissions and those covering the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's landmark 1.5C report - had served to "reinforce" the case for urgent breakthroughs in the energy sector.

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Union of Concerned Scientists

How Nuclear Power Works

Principles of nuclear power

Atoms are constructed like miniature solar systems. At the center of the atom is the nucleus; orbiting around it are electrons.

The nucleus is composed of protons and neutrons, very densely packed together. Hydrogen, the lightest element, has one proton; the heaviest natural element, uranium, has 92 protons.

The nucleus of an atom is held together with great force, the "strongest force in nature. " When bombarded with a neutron, it can be split apart, a process called fission. Because uranium atoms are so large, the atomic force that binds it together is relatively weak, making uranium good for fission.

In nuclear power plants, neutrons collide with uranium atoms, splitting them. This split releases neutrons from the uranium that in turn collide with other atoms, causing a chain reaction. This chain reaction is controlled with "control rods" that absorb neutrons.

In the core of nuclear reactors, the fission of uranium atoms releases energy that heats water to about 520 degrees Farenheit. This hot water is then used to spin turbines that are connected to generators, producing electricity.

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