We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

How We Make Money

We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently from our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is Nuclear Power?

Mary McMahon
By
Updated Jan 20, 2024
Our promise to you
AllTheScience is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At AllTheScience, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Nuclear power is energy which is produced with the use of a controlled nuclear reaction. Many nations use nuclear power plants to generate electricity for both civilian and military use, and some nations also utilize this type of energy to run parts of their naval fleets, especially submarines. Some people favor an expansion of nuclear power plants because this form of energy is considered cleaner than fossil fuels such as coal, although they come with a number of problems which must be addressed, including the safe disposal of radioactive waste products.

The process of generation nuclear power starts with the mining and processing of uranium and other radioactive elements. These elements are used to feed the reactor of a power plant, generating a reaction known as fission which creates intense heat, turning water in the plant into steam. The steam powers steam turbines, which generate electricity and feed the electricity into the electrical grid.

When nuclear energy is used to power something like a submarine, the reactor runs the engines, with the steam directly powering the engines. In both cases, the reactor requires careful supervision, because runaway nuclear reactions must be stopped as quickly as possible to prevent serious problems. Many nuclear power plants have extensive automated systems which help to identify potential trouble spots, and these systems can also re-route power, turn off parts of the plant, and perform other tasks which make the plant safer and cleaner.

One of the advantages of nuclear energy is that it does not produce greenhouse gases. It does, however, produce hazardous waste. Spent nuclear fuel is radioactive and extremely dangerous, requiring a substantial infrastructure to secure the power plant and to handle the fuel. Unfortunately, some nations do not have adequate measures for handling their spent fuel in place, and it is not uncommon to see “temporary” solutions for the storage of nuclear material which last for decades.

The process of mining and refining the necessary radioactive elements used in a nuclear power plant is also not very clean, and these elements require secure transport, which can add to the cost of this type of power significantly. Several nations have instituted a moratorium on the development of nuclear energy until these problems have been addressed.

AllTheScience is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a AllTheScience researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments

By anon337808 — On Jun 08, 2013

Under central North America, vast deposits of oil shale dwarf the currently available supply from pipsqueaks like Saudi Arabia and Iran. And under the Monterey Bay lie immense fields of natural gas and easily recovered oil -- only we can't get at any of it, because of the liberal goon squad running the state. Anyway, nuclear is great, safe and essential as an adjunct to the most important fuel we have, petroleum hydrocarbons. By not making maximal use of what we have, we are committing economic suicide.

By anon328868 — On Apr 06, 2013

All of you who say we should get rid of nuclear and focus on alternative power sources like wind or solar need to remember they are unreliable sources of electricity, as well as being so expensive to run.

By anon253816 — On Mar 11, 2012

If we see today's requirement of electricity in India, it increases day by day. We have coal which is sufficient only for 10 years. It means we should go for nuclear energy, since we know it does not produce greenhouse gasses and nuclear power is a cleaner source of energy than others. One thing also is that 20kg uranium = 2000 tons of coal. It means that operation of nuclear power plants is a boon for us.

By anon231642 — On Nov 26, 2011

Look up "Blueprint for a Sustainable Planet" that uses nature's waste and sunshine to clean the planet and rid ourselves of nuclear forever using daily renewable waste.

This "Blueprint" was among the six finalists for the UN MIT Climate CoLab Competition for global sustainability and lost out to Nuclear/Fission! A Greenpeace expert trying to help with the clean-up of Fukushima says in so many words that planning to have children and nuclear is totally irresponsible!

By anon226223 — On Oct 30, 2011

You know, using hazardous nuclear power is not necessary anymore. We've now got some alternative energy sources such as wind turbines, geothermal and hydro electrical. But it's true that these have to be further developed.

By anon174145 — On May 09, 2011

What about south africa? We do not have the proper infrastructure or finances to build and maintain nuclear power plants. And if something should go wrong? Everywhere in south africa is so close to each other that a really big problem could occur if there is a mistake made. Our roads are not well built, with many pot holes, which may be hazardous to trucks transporting uranium and other radioactive elements to the power plant. And where will we store the waste?

By anon166092 — On Apr 07, 2011

I think that Nuclear power is realistic solution to our energy needs and although it may have bad effects like radiation, it is a key way forward in the ways of energy and fuel. Don't abolish it or we'll have very few options left for ways of finding energy.

By anon162574 — On Mar 24, 2011

lots of people working on a couple of big plants in each country, with an easy way of getting rid of the radioactive waste could work well. Get way more wind turbines, maybe have a few thousand or million in the desert or something so people can't complain and they still get their electricity.

By anon160497 — On Mar 16, 2011

Switch it once you have it, we have no alternative and we should eat what is in our plates. i suggest that nuclear power remains a prominent source of energy for our economic growth and prosperity, however serious attention must be executed if this source becomes a threat to human nature.

By anon160215 — On Mar 15, 2011

i don't think we really need nuclear anymore. we have other solutions like wind turbines.

By anon149962 — On Feb 06, 2011

i believe this is not the only way out the question. does the uk need new nuclear power stations? thank you

By anon144097 — On Jan 18, 2011

Nuclear power is a lazy answer to the energy crisis.

By anon120816 — On Oct 22, 2010

Nuclear is one of very few realistic options we have. Especially in the uk! Takes many years to build them so let's start now!

By anon89454 — On Jun 10, 2010

actually I believe if there is a small enough number of power plant to be controlled, it is possible this could be our future major supply

of electricity.

By anon85641 — On May 21, 2010

I think nuclear power should be obliterated.

By anon23911 — On Jan 04, 2009

Actually, there is 600 times more uranium in the ground than gold and there is as much uranium as tin. There hasn't been any major new uranium exploration for 20 years, but at current levels, known uranium reserves are predicted to last for 85 years. Estimates from the IAEA and the OECD show that at least six times more uranium is extractable – enough for 500 years’ supply at current demand. Modern reactors can use thorium as a fuel and convert it into uranium – and there is three times more thorium in the ground than uranium. So yea, but I don't think that we should keep on making more reactors until we can find a safe way of disposing of the waste.

By anon23700 — On Dec 31, 2008

I'd like to see you all live without nuclear power. Yes, wind turbines are an AMAZING technology, but they cost billions of dollars and there are few people/companies (besides T. Boone Pickens! :-) who are willing to foot the bill. Yes, there are problems with nuclear power, most significantly the disposal of nuclear waste. But there are scientists working very hard to create clean ways to dispose this material. Most of our power comes from nuclear power - if you think you can live without it, or that we, as humans, have "gone down in dignity," you should first get off your computer (it's electric, after all) and go live on a boat somewhere with alternative technology to fuel your electricity, heat, water, etc. I'm sick of people being hypocrites - saying nuclear power is the most horrible thing we, as humans, could have invented, and yet milking the power grids with their own needs.

By anon12873 — On May 15, 2008

Nuclear power should be abolished and demolished it is an absolute disgrace and shows how humans the species have gone down in dignity!

By anon12215 — On May 02, 2008

The biggest problem with nuclear energy is that there is only enough high grade uranium left in the world to run fission reactors for another seven years before you have to build fast breeders. This produces plutonium, which can be also used as a fuel - but also to make dirty bombs! Do we need to have this proliferate?

Mary McMahon

Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

Read more
AllTheScience, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

AllTheScience, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.