Will Nuclear Energy Ever Run Out?

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Nuclear energy will run out if it continues to be produced using uranium and nuclear fission. If people can harness the power of nuclear fusion though, the supply of hydrogen required is virtually endless. Find out more about the process of creating nuclear energy with information from a math and science teacher in this free video nuclear energy.

Part of the Video Series: Science & Environmental Facts
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Video Transcript

Hi I'm Steve Jones and I'm going to explain why nuclear energy is going to run out or is not going to run out. Well is it? Well it depends on what we mean by nuclear energy because we have got two processes which are both important and the one at the moment that we know about and that we see a lot of is fission in nuclear reactants and this is what produces our energy at the present time. Now fission in nuclear reactors uses uranium and uranium is a fossil fuel. Eventually you are going to dig the uranium out of the ground and you are going to run out. Maybe it might take 200 years, 400 years but it is going to run out so that isn't going to last forever. But the other type of nuclear energy which is fusion which is the same process which occurs in the sun where atoms of hydrogen come together to build up helium and then helium come together to Lithium and Beryllium and so on building bigger and bigger molecules fusion may be the answer to this problem. Fusion is certainly going to produce a lot of energy if we can harness it in the same way that we can harness energy in a nuclear reactor. The big problem with fusion is the difference in temperature. The temperature inside a nuclear reactor is something of the region maybe about 600 Celsius so it is hot but it is not that hot. But for a fusion reactor, for a fusion reactor you are going to have to have a temperature of 10 million Celsius and try and put that in a glass bottle, you won't succeed. So the problem you have with fusion is controlling it. It is alright for a bomb because if a bomb creates this temperature it is exactly the effect you want. It destroys everything near it but the problem is if you are trying or you want a nuclear reactor you don't want it to destroy anything, you want it to create heat, controllable heat so the answer to the question is yes nuclear energy will run out if it is produced by a fission process from uranium because uranium is going to run out. It is a fossil fuel and you dig it out of the ground. If you control fusion then we could say possibly it won't because hydrogen is one of the most common things on Earth. The whole of the sea is made of hydrogen. It is an almost infinite supply of material which could be used. So the answer is also no it won't run out if we can harness the energy from fusion so there is your answer. Will nuclear energy run out, definite yes and no.


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