There are three types of energy sources on Earth:
Fossil energy sources (gas, coal, oil), named for the organic matter under transformation in the earth for millions of years. They are exhaustible and strong emitters of greenhouse gases. ransformation de matières organiques enfouies sous terre depuis des millions d’années.
Renewable energy sources (wind, solar, hydroelectricity) are, as their name indicates, inexhaustible. They are based on natural elements such as the sun, water, wind, and hot water sources. They are referred to as intermittent because they do not produce energy continuously. They are low emitters of greenhouse gases.
Fissile energy which is nuclear energy. It is the result of uranium and plutonium fission that produces a powerful chain reaction, and it continually powers all the electrical grids in France. It has low greenhouse gas emissions.
Did you know? in France, 75 % of our electricity is produced from nuclear energy.
A little history:
Uranium is present in its natural form under the earth’s surface. The isotopes uranium-235 and uranium-238 are used in the nuclear fuel cycle. Uranium-235 represents 0.7% of the uranium present in the earth’s crust. It is particularly instable, very rare, and fissile.
It is enriched prior to its use by centrifugation or diffusion, and then concentrated in the form of yellow cake. Orano has extensively developed its expertise in uranium enrichment and is 3rd in the world in this field. Uranium-238, much more prevalent in nature, is said to be fertile. It represents 99.7% of the uranium in the earth’s crust.
Enriched uranium, in the form of a black powder, is compressed, once processed, into 7-gram pellets that are placed in metal tubes 4 meters long known as “rods.” They are perfectly hermetic and are bundled together in fuel assemblies.
Did you know?
When a uranium-235 nucleus is bombarded with a neutron, it absorbs it ad splits into two parts. this is nuclear fission.
By splitting, this nuclear produces new neutrons that then bombard other uranium-235 atoms and this cascade of fissions is called a nuclear chain reaction.
It is controlled and maintained at a constant level using control rods that measure and regulate the number of neutrons.
This phenomenon generates a large amount of energy and heat. The nuclear reactor then reuses this energy to heat water which produces steam and activates the turbine. The turbine, combined with an alternator, transforms the energy into electricity.
Did you know? 1g d’uranium produces more heat than the combustion of one metric ton of oil
A nuclear plant is composed of four main parts:
Did you know?
Nuclear energy has a lot of other applications than producing electricity. While it has made major advances in medical research possible, its contributions to the arts, archeology, and the agri-food industry are less well-known. Here are a few examples.
In medicine, it has enabled major progress in prevention, diagnostics, disease treatment, radiotherapy, alphatherapy, cancer research, etc.
In the fields of agriculture and food production, it improves agricultural techniques, food storage, and nutrition.
It helps protect the environment, and notably the sea bottom, through studies on the acidification of the oceans and plastic pollution.
It also plays a major role in the restoration of art works and is very useful to archaeologists, who use it to date, identify, and reconstruct the history of objects discovered during digs.
Nuclear energy, a revolutionary scientific discovery from the last century, continues to open up new avenues of innovation. Now more than ever, it is an energy of the future. It will play a key role in the energy transition, electric mobile applications, medicine, space applications, and even quantum computing.