Q:

How long will nuclear energy last?

A:

Quick Answer

Scientific American notes that the world's uranium supply, the element used to create nuclear energy, can operate nuclear reactors for 200 years or more at stable consumption levels. Each nuclear reactor requires the use of low-enriched uranium fuel to create electricity. It is estimated that nuclear plants worldwide use approximately 70,000 metric tons of uranium to produce 2.8 trillion kilowatt-hours of electricity each year.

Know More
How long will nuclear energy last?
Credit: querbeet Vetta Getty Images

Full Answer

According to Scientific American, the Nuclear Energy Agency notes that as of 2009, approximately 5.5 million metric tons of uranium have been identified, and an estimated 10.5 million metric tons remain undiscovered. These combined amounts provide an estimated 230 years of nuclear energy. Uranium can be extracted from seawater in the future, but it is not currently financially feasible. This could yield an additional 4.5 billion metric tons of uranium that would supply world-wide nuclear power for an estimated additional 60,000 years at a stable consumption level, based on 2009 uranium usage amounts.

Scientific American also notes that though the world's nuclear reactors were initially expected to last no more than 40 years, many of them have been given licenses that extend use to 60 years. It is believed that the reactors are safe to operate for up to 80 years or more.

Learn more about Natural Resources

Related Questions

  • Q:

    What are the disadvantages of using wood energy?

    A:

    While using wood for energy to heat a home has a romantic association for many people, it is an inconvenient energy source. Most wood heat requires humans to bring in firewood, monitor the fire and add more fuel on a regular basis. This lifestyle commitment does not work for everyone.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    How is wind energy stored?

    A:

    According to the Agonist Learning Center, wind energy is stored by compressed air energy storage, and by using batteries and hydrogen fuel cells. Storing wind energy that is generated when the wind is strong and utilizing it when there isn't enough wind enhances the usability of wind energy.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    What are types of nuclear energy?

    A:

    There are two types of nuclear energy: fission and fusion. Fission occurs when a single atom is split, releasing a burst of energy and particles. Fusion occurs when two atoms combine to form one or more new atoms. Fission fuels modern nuclear reactors, while fusion powers the sun.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    What are the benefits of nuclear energy?

    A:

    Nuclear energy offers a number of economic and environmental benefits. For starters, nuclear energy is by far the most concentrated energy type. A significant amount of nuclear energy can be produced from a small mass of fuel. Not only does this provide substantial energy, but it reduces fuel and production costs. In addition to being efficient, nuclear power plants do not emit carbon dioxide or smoke during the production process.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:

Explore