NUCLEAR ENERGY (Syllabus: GS Paper 3 – Sci and Tech)

News-CRUX-10     4th April 2024        
Samadhaan

Context: A recent study by academics at the Indian Institute of Management emphasizes that for India to attain developed country status by 2047 and align with net zero carbon emissions by 2070, it must heavily prioritize investments in nuclear energy and expand associated infrastructure.

Nuclear Energy

  • About: It is the energy stored in the nucleus of an atom. It can be used to produce electricity. But, before it can used, it must be released.
  • Global: Nuclear energy accounts for approximately 10% of global electricity production, generated by around 440 power reactors.

oNuclear energy stands as the second-largest contributor to low-carbon power worldwide, comprising 26% of the total in 2020.

  • In India: Nuclear power ranks as the fifth-largest electricity source, following thermal, hydroelectric, and renewable energy sources.

oIndia currently operates 22 nuclear reactors situated within 7 nuclear power plants, boasting an aggregate installed capacity of 6780 MW.

o Nuclear energy can help India meet the INDC target under the Paris Climate Treaty.

  • Nuclear Fusion: In fusion, nuclei of two lighter elements are made to fuse together to form the nucleus of a heavier atom.
  • Best Example: It is the same nuclear process that powers the Sun and other stars.
  • Nuclear Fission: It occurs when a neutron slams into a larger atom, forcing it to excite and split into two smaller atoms, known as fission products. Additional neutrons are also released that can initiate a chain reaction.
  • Result: When each atom splits, a tremendous amount of energy is released.
  • Best Example: Nuclear power reactors where uranium and plutonium are most commonly used because they are easy to initiate and control.

Uranium

  • About: It is a silvery-grey metal in the actinide series of the periodic table.
  • Form: Uranium is an extremely heavy metal.
  • Uranium in India: Uranium deposits in India are primarily found in crystalline rocks.

oJharkhand state holds 70% of the country's uranium reserves.

  • Major uranium deposits occur: Singhbhum and Hazaribagh districts of Jharkhand, Gaya district of Bihar, and Saharanpur district of Uttar Pradesh.
  • Total reserves of uranium in India: Amount to 30,480 tonnes.
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