The question of whether we should get electricity from nuclear power remains a tough one for governments all over the world. While it offers a sustainable, low carbon and secure way of meeting our energy needs, big questions surround the economic viability, the perceived dangers and the public acceptability associated with power plant operations and radioactive wastes. Nuclear power stations currently generate around 18% of the UK’s electricity production. The majority of the current reactors are scheduled to be decommissioned by 2023 and we could be facing an energy ‘gap’.
The free course “The Science of Nuclear Energy” will delve into the science behind nuclear power and explain what happens inside a nuclear reactor and what it means for an element to be radioactive. It will explore some of the risks of producing nuclear power and examine the arguments for and against including it in future energy planning as well as looking at other potential future solutions.
The Science of Nuclear Energy Course Content
With the need to reduce carbon emissions around the world, the way we generate our power has to change and nuclear energy is back on the political agenda. But do you know your fission from your fusion? Would you like the knowledge to make an informed decision? This course aims to help you, and includes the following topics:
- Atomic physics and the nature of isotopes and radioactivity;
- The processes of fission and fusion;
- The distinction between energy of power and the increasing need to generate electrical power;
- The use of nuclear fission in power stations;
- The production of radioactive waste and some solutions;
- The cause of nuclear incidents in the past, the effect on the environment and local populations;
- The national grid and possible energy sources;
- Future developments in the technology that harnesses nuclear fission and fusion.
The course does not assume any prior knowledge of nuclear energy and can be enjoyed by anyone interested in science and becoming more informed of energy choices.
Summary of Main Course Features
- Publisher: The Open University
- Instructors: Sam Smidt and Gemma Warriner
- Start Dates: 8 May 2017 and 18 September 2017
- Duration: 4 weeks x 3 hours per week