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Nuclear Energy

ISBN-10: 0199759464
ISBN-13: 9780199759460
Edition: 2011
List price: $16.95 Buy it from $10.62
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Description: Originally perceived as a cheap and plentiful source of power, the commercial use of nuclear energy has been controversial for decades. Worries about the dangers that nuclear plants and their radioactive waste posed to nearby communities grew over  More...

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Book details

List price: $16.95
Copyright year: 2011
Publisher: Oxford University Press, Incorporated
Publication date: 5/17/2011
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 240
Size: 5.50" wide x 8.25" long x 1.00" tall
Weight: 0.990
Language: English

Originally perceived as a cheap and plentiful source of power, the commercial use of nuclear energy has been controversial for decades. Worries about the dangers that nuclear plants and their radioactive waste posed to nearby communities grew over time, and plant construction in the United States virtually died after the early 1980s. The 1986 disaster at Chernobyl only reinforced nuclear power's negative image. Recent years have seen a marked change, however. The alarming acceleration of global warming due to the burning of fossil fuels and concern about dependence on foreign fuel has led policymakers, climate scientists, and energy experts to look once again at nuclear power as a source of energy. In this accessible overview, Charles D. Ferguson provides an authoritative account of the key facts about nuclear energy. What is the origin of nuclear energy? What countries use commercial nuclear power, and how much electricity do they obtain from it? How can future nuclear power plants be made safer? What can countries do to protect their nuclear facilities from military attacks? How hazardous is radioactive waste? Is nuclear energy a renewable energy source? Ferguson addresses these questions and more in a book that is essential for anyone looking to learn more about this important issue.

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Preface
Acknowledgment
Fundamentals
What is energy, and what is power?
Is most energy that people use derived from nuclear energy?
What is the origin of nuclear energy?
What is "radioactivity"?
Why is ionizing radiation a health concern?
What is radioactive half-life, and how can knowing it help increase a country's security?
How much more energetic is nuclear energy compared to chemical energy?
Why has it been so difficult to commercialize nuclear fusion?
How was nuclear fission discovered?
What role, if any, did Albert Einstein play in the discovery of nuclear energy?
What is a fission chain reaction?
What is uranium, where did it come from, and how was it discovered?
What is plutonium, how was it discovered, and how hazardous is it?
Why can't nuclear reactors explode like a nuclear bomb?
What is the nuclear fuel cycle?
Why are certain activities in the nuclear fuel cycle called "dual use"?
What are the various uranium-enrichment methods?
What are the nuclear-proliferation concerns for uranium enrichment?
What is the thorium fuel cycle?
How does a nuclear reactor generate electricity?
How many people's electricity demands can be supported with one large nuclear reactor?
What are the different types of nuclear reactors used for electricity generation?
Why were only a few types of reactor designs chosen for the present fleer of reactors?
What are the Generation IV reactors, and why are they considered potentially revolutionary?
What can nuclear reactors do besides generate electricity?
Energy Security and Costs of Building Power Plants
What is energy security?
Is energy independence feasible?
Have countries ever been shut out of the nuclear-fuel market?
Are European countries too dependent on Russian energy supplies?
What role has nuclear energy played in reducing certain countries' dependence on fossil fuels?
How could nuclear energy further reduce dependence on fossil fuels?
What countries use commercail nuclear power, and how much electricity do they obtain from it?
How many more countries are likely to acquire commercial nuclear power plants?
How do the costs of nuclear plants compare to other types of power plants?
How can nuclear power plants be made more cost-compelltive?
Why is it difficult for the supply chain to keep up with forecasts of demand for new nuclear plants?
How many skilled people are required to build and operate nuclear plants?
Can construction of nuclear power plants keep pace with the increasing demands for electricity?
Will the world run out of uranium and, if so, when?
Why have some countries pursued reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel for commercial purposes?
Why did the United States decide to not pursue reprocessing, and will it revive this practice?
Climate Change
What is the greenhouse effect?
What is the difference between global warming and climate change?
What are the observed and forecasted effects of climate change?
What can people do to reverse excess global warming?
Why don't nuclear plants amir greenhouse gases?
Why does the nuclear fuel cycle emit some greenhouse gases?
How helpful have nuclear power plants been in preventing more greenhouse gases from being emitted from coal and natural gas plants?
How many additional nuclear plants would be needed to make a further major reduction in greenhouse gas emissions?
Have nuclear power plants ever been built as fast as would be needed to make another major reduction in greenhouse gas emissions
Will global warming actually reduce the ability to use nuclear power plants to their full capacity?
Should nuclear power be considered a "clean" energy source for climate-change agreements among nations?
What are the differing views among environmentalists on nuclear power?
Proliferation
What is nuclear proliferation?
Which countries have developed nuclear weapons, and how did they do it?
How many nuclear weapons do the nuclear-armed countries have?
How much weapons-usable fissile material is available worldwide, and where is it located?
Has a country ever completely dismantled or given up its nuclear arsenal?
What is the nonproliferation regima?
What is the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty?
What is the International Atomic Energy Agency, and what role does it play in preventing proliferation?
What are nuclear safeguards, and how have they evolved?
Are nuclear safeguards effective?
What is the Nuclear Suppliers Group?
Has commercial nuclear power ever been used to make nuclear weapons?
What can be done to prevent proliferation?
Can the nuclear fuel cycle be made more proliferation resistant?
Can terrorists make nuclear weapons?
What can be done to prevent nuclear terrorisom?
Safety
What is nuclear safety?
How safe is safe enough, and what is safety culture?
What is the defense-in-depth safety concept?
What are the major types of nuclear accidents?
How is nuclear safety measured?
How safe are today's nuclear power plants?
Should a country choose one plant design instead of multiple designs, and what are the implications of such a choice?
What is the China syndrome?
How did the Three Mile Island accident happen and what were the consequences?
How did the Chemobyl accident happen and whar were the consequences?
What happened to Soviet-designed reactors after the Chernobyl accident
How did the nuclear industry form self-policing organizations?
Can the nuclear Industry survive if another major accident occurs?
How long can nuclear power plants operate?
How can future nuclear power plants be made safer?
Can nuclear power expand too fasr to keep plants safe?
How can nuclear facilities be made resistant to natural disasters such as earthquakes and tsunamis?
How did the Fukushima Daiichi accident happen?
Were there design flaws in the Fukushima Daiichi reactors and were there safety concerns prior to the accident?
What are the concerns about nuclear safety culture in Japan?
What are the likely Implications for the nuclear industry as a result of the Fukushima Daiichi accident?
Why did the Fukushima Daiichi accident raise renewed concerns about the use of plutonium in nuclear fuel?
Physical Security
What is nuclear security?
What is a design-basis threat assessment?
How are safety and security different?
Why would someone attack a nuclear power plant or related nuclear facility?
Who would attack nuclear facilities?
What are the potential modes of attack or sabotage, and what has been done to protect against them?
What more can be done to sterngthen the security of existing and future facilities?
What military attacks have there been on nuclear reactors?
What can countries do to protect their nuclear facilities from military attacks?
Radioactive Waste Management
What are the types of radioactive waste, and how are they generated?
What is the typical composition of spent nuclear fuel?
How long does the radioactivity in spent fuel last?
How hazardous is radioactive waste?
How much spent nuclear fuel has been produced?
What are the storage options for dealing with radioactive waste?
What is the volume of radioactive waste, and how does this compare to the industrial toxic waste?
How vulnerable are spent fuel pools?
Does reprocessing reduce the amount of nuclear waste?
How do nuclear plants and coal plants compare in terms of radioactivity emitted?
What country is closest to opening a permanent nuclear waste repository?
How hazardous is the transportation of radioactive waste?
Why was Yucca Mountain chosen as the permanent repository in the United States, and what will be its fate?
Will delays in opening a permanent repository for radioactive waste derail continued or expanded use of nuclear power in the United States?
Sustainable Energy
What is meant by a "sustainable energy system"?
What is a "renewable energy source"?
Is nuclear energy a renewable energy source?
Can nuclear energy contribute to developing sustainable energy systems?
Can renewable energies compete with nuclear and other base-load electrical power sources?
Suggestions for Further Reading
Index

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