Lipper, Ilan, and Jon Stone. Nuclear Energy and Society. University of Michigan,
n.d. Web. 9 Sept. 2009. <www.umich.edu...~gs265/society/
This article consists of a description of how a nuclear reactor works, as well as the benefits and drawbacks of using nuclear energy. The way the majority of nuclear power plants work is to use the energy produced by the fission of uranium atoms in the core to boil water and use the steam to turn a turbine. The energy produced is clean; it does not release any contaminants directly into the environment. Nuclear energy is also comparatively cheaper to produce per megawatt than any other power source currently available. However, the article points out that nuclear waste remains highly dangerous for long periods of time and must be properly stored. Also, if a nuclear reactor were to meltdown, as the reactor in Chernobyl did, the environment consequences would be extreme.
The article gives a good summation of the workings of a nuclear power plant as well as a good description of the pros and cons of nuclear energy generation. As a baseline for research into nuclear energy, this is a good source.
Nuclear Fusion. Hyper Physics, n.d. Web. 9 Sept. 2009.
This article is a basic description of the fusion reaction that may someday be used as a power source. The reason that fusion works is that when two light elements are fused, the resulting atom is less than the sum of the masses of the two elements in the reaction. The lost mass is then released as energy in accordance to Einstein's theory of relativity. The article continues by explaining that the reaction that will most likely be used for producing energy would be a fusion of deuterium (an atom that can be readily found in sea water) and tritium (which must be artificially produced.) The remainder of the article is a technical list of the reactions, what elements are involved in each reaction, and what elements and how much energy is produced.
This article could be useful in research to the basis of nuclear fusion as well as how it could be feasibly created. The article does seem to over-simplify the challenges that must be overcome, as from the description given by the article it sounds as if it is already possible to build a fusion reactor.
Nuclear Power Now. N.p., 2008. Web. 16 Sept. 2009. <www.nuclearnow.org...>.
This article is a general description of the benefits of nuclear power. It describes how nuclear energy is currently the cleanest form of energy as it does not directly release any pollutants into the atmosphere. According to the site, a combination of nuclear energy and fuel cell technology (using energy from nuclear reactors to split water into its component parts, hydrogen ad oxygen, and use the hydrogen for fuel cells) would drastically reduce American dependence on foreign oil. The article goes on to compare the 100,000,000 tons of waste produced annually by the coal industry to the 2,000 tons of nuclear waste produced annually. Also, the 2,000 tons of nuclear waste can be used in Integral Fast Reactors to generate energy.
While this site has a fair amount of information, the website seems to be at least slightly bias (especially with the domain name "nuclearnow".) While this may not be a problem, it would be better to find confirm such information with a website that is preferably neutral.
Kirsch, Steve. The Integral Fast Reactor (IFR) project: Q&A. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Sept. 2009. <skirsch.com...>.
This is a very long article on the merits of the canceled Integral Fast Reactor (IFR) project. An IFR uses the waste product from other nuclear power plants and uses it to produce further energy. These reactors produce significantly less waste than typical nuclear power plants (1 ton annually for a 1000MW power plant) and the waste produced (broken uranium atoms) can not only be used commercially, it decays to safe levels of radioactivity in only 500 years instead of tens of thousands of years like typical nuclear waste. They are also very safe, with a projection of one reactor melt for every 29 million reactor years, and affordable, a coal plant can easily be converted to an IFR, only the burner chamber and control room must be replaced. It does mention that sodium is used in an IFR and that the inherent dangers of sodium (low combustion point, combustibility reactive with water) but that the nature of sodium does not add any significant risk to the power production process.
This is a very informative source on IFRs. The information is presented in a Q&A format, making finding specific information easier, while causing a bit of information repetition. Overall, I would highly recommend this source to anyone interested in integral fast reactors.
University of Texas at Austin. "Nuclear Fusion-fission Hybrid Could Contribute To Carbon-free Energy Future." Science Daily. N.p., 29 Jan. 2009. Web. 23 Sept. 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com...>.
The article states that researchers at the University of Texas have developed a system that could use nuclear fusion to break down the waste from a nuclear fission reactor. Typical fission reactors produce nuclear sludge that remains dangerous for very long periods of time. While the amount of waste is not extreme, it is highly radioactive and must be carefully stored. The fusion reactor would pump neutrons into the radioactive waste, burning it stably and safely. The new fusion reactor would be no larger than a small room. The new technology that made this possible, the Super X Divertor, is designed to handle the high temperature and particles produced by the plasma used in fusion reactions. Scientists are currently performing extended simulations and looking for funding for a prototype.
This source gives information on a promising new waste disposal system for nuclear power plants. The article is in-depth, though the target audience does not seem to be high school students. If you can decipher the technical jargon, this article is both informative and reliable.
University of Gothenburg. "Ultra-dense Deuterium May Be Nuclear Fuel Of The Future."Science Daily. N.p., 12 May 2009. Web. 23 Sept. 2009. www.sciencedaily.com...
This article describes a new, man-made material called ultra-dense deuterium. This new material is more dense than the core of the sun; so dense that a cube made of it with side lengths of 10 cm would weigh 130 tons. Unfortunately, only very small amounts of this material have been produce. If produced in sufficient quantities, a high energy laser could be used to create a fusion reaction with the deuterium at the core. This form of power generation would not only be highly productive, it would produce no dangerous waste products, only helium and hydrogen. Ultra-dense deuterium is made using normal deuterium, which is fairly common in water around one atom in ten thousand. This type of fusion eliminates the need for the highly radioactive tritium that is planned for use in other fusion reactor designs.
This article is easy to understand and is informative. Coming from a reliable source, this is a good article to get information on a new technology that one day might be a primary form of energy generation.