We start with the basics: what is nuclear energy? Nuclear energy is the energy that is generated in the atomic nucleus, which is the central part of an atom. On the other hand, atoms are the smallest particles in which a material can be divided.

To know what nuclear energy is, we must know that in each atom there are two types of particles: neutrons and protons. Both particles are always united and are thanks to nuclear energy, which exerts enough force to do so.

Thanks to nuclear technology, the human being was able to convert that nuclear energy into other more usable energies. The most common and the most consumed in the whole world is electric power.


Once we know what it is, let's learn how nuclear energy is produced. A production that can occur in two different ways: nuclear fission or nuclear fusion

  • Nuclear fission

The nuclear fission occurs when the nucleus of an atom is split. In this case, to do so, the usual thing is to violate the core itself. When fragmented, its mass is lower than usual. Even if we add all the fragments, the final mass is inferior to the original one. The mass that remains will be transformed into energy.

Fission nuclear is a process that can be reached in two ways:

+ Induced fission - Occurs when the nucleus of an atom traps a neutron

+ Spontaneous fission - As the name indicates, it occurs unexpectedly. In this case, when the isotope is destabilized.

  • Nuclear fusion

The nuclear fusion, meanwhile, is when two equal atomic nuclei bind. In this case, they must be lightweight and emit neutrons. When it is produced, the core absorbs a lot of energy, which can be obtained thanks to the gamma rays and the kinetic energy generated by the movement of the neutrons.

Nuclear fusion, to come to occur, must meet several premises that do not always occur. To begin with, the temperature must be extremely high so the electrons of the two nuclei will separate. Secondly, it is imperative that the two atoms are confined, so that their temperature does not drop. Finally, the plasma that ends up forming must have a specific density to unleash nuclear fusion.

If one of the three requirements is not met, there will be no nuclear fusion. A nuclear fusion that, like all this energy, is highly dangerous.


It's time to know how nuclear power works. As we have already mentioned, it is the collision between several elements of the central core. Now, what causes that collision is the plutonium, uranium, and thorium that the neuron receives. From that moment, the energy creates two other neutrons that collide again with their gift nuclei, and so on successively.

Understanding how nuclear energy works is to understand that this process generates huge energy, especially heat. The objective of the nuclear power plants is that this process is controlled. And they have achieved it, obviously.

To begin with, diluting the fusionable material and reducing the speed of the neutrons. For this, they use the so-called moderator. Once the process is controlled, the nuclear power plant has the opportunity to store that energy. It does so with cooling elements that not only cool the energy, but also the nuclear reactor. Beware, the refrigerant, in many nuclear power plants, is water.

In fact, what failed at the Fukushima power plant in Japan was the main cooling system and the reserve cooling system. Thus, the reactor overheated and the pressure caused the steam to escape from the plant, despite being closed in a sealed manner. Obviously, that vapor that he released was radioactive.

And it is that, usually, the nuclear reactor is at a temperature of 1,200º, but the risk of nuclear fusion occurs when it reaches 3,000º


Lastly, we review the characteristics of nuclear energy. Characteristics that make it a source of energy without equal but with many risks to assume.

Among the characteristics of nuclear energy, the most recognizable is its almost unlimited capacity. The bestial production of energy that nuclear energy supposes is tremendous. Especially when we compare it with other known types of energy. Yes, nuclear energy generates a quantity of radioactive waste, which is very complicated to make disappear.

Is nuclear energy good or not? Are we for or against nuclear power plants? Since Erenovable, we have published different points of view and opinions about this topic. Greenpeace against nuclear energy while the son of Fidel Castro bets on nuclear energy or that Spain has divided views on atomic energy.

Those mentioned above are just some of the examples but opinions on nuclear power are controversial. Should we be afraid of nuclear energy or not? Should we put aside this type of energy or, on the contrary, should we insist on it? What is the future of nuclear energy in the world? What is the cost of electricity of nuclear origin?

Recently, we have remembered the Chernobyl accident. Therefore, it is very important to define what is the nuclear risk of plants and laboratories. On the other hand, it is also interesting to inquire about the purely technological problem presented by the organization of work and the control of nuclear safety as well as the safety of nuclear installations. The questions are too many and they continue. Who controls the status of private laboratories? What happens with nuclear waste? What is the risk of contamination?

As we know, there are many forms of energy (fossil, coal and gas, hydraulic, solar, wind, geothermal, biomass, etc.). Some of these energies are renewable energies, clean energies and others are not.

If we think about coal, to analyze an example, we will see that the world reserves of coal are sufficient, in theory, to produce all the electricity we need for about a hundred years, approximately. However, it is likely that in the future more and more coal will be converted into more valuable liquid fuels and will no longer be available to generate electricity. Anyway, the coal does not belong to the group of clean energy and is an environmental problem because its combustion releases carbon dioxide and increases the greenhouse effect.

In Western countries, nuclear power is interesting because most nuclear power plants and the cost of electricity remain competitive. It seems to be a very profitable and very active sector. However, the heat generated by the radioactivity of uranium produces approximately 16,000 times more energy than coal, for example. A 100 MWe nuclear power plant consumes the equivalent of 3.1 million tons of coal per year but only 24 tons of unary.