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Uses of Nuclear Technology

Uses of Nuclear Technology

The main use of nuclear energy is the production of electrical energy. Nuclear power plants are responsible for generating electricity. Nuclear fission reactions are generated in the nuclear reactors of the nuclear power plants. With these reactions, thermal energy is obtained that will be transformed into mechanical energy and later into electrical energy.

However, there are many other uses in which nuclear energy is used directly or indirectly.

Working with different isotopes of the same element, you can use nuclear technology for other uses in various fields:

Generation of electricity

The most important and known use of nuclear energy is the generation of electricity.

After the Second World War, the main use that was given to nuclear energy was the generation of electric power.

Nuclear power plants are the facilities responsible for converting the nuclear energy contained in the uranium atoms into electricity. The process to obtain this conversion is the result of a thermodynamic and mechanical process.

At first, the nuclear reactor generates nuclear fission reactions that emit a large amount of thermal energy. With all this heat energy, steam is obtained at high pressure. The steam, thanks to its high pressure, drives the steam turbines of the plant. In this way, mechanical energy is obtained, energy of rotation of an axis. Finally, the electric generator will convert the kinetic energy of the axis into electrical energy.

Industrial uses of nuclear technology

Nuclear technology acquires great importance in the industrial sector, specifically it is used in the development and improvement of processes, for measurements, automation and quality control.

It is used as a prerequisite for the complete automation of high-speed production lines, and is applied to process research, mixing, maintenance and the study of wear and corrosion of facilities and machinery.

Nuclear technology is also used in the manufacture of plastics and in the sterilization of single-use products.

Military uses, nuclear weapons

Nautilus nuclear submarineA weapon is an instrument used to attack or defend itself. Nuclear weapons are those weapons that use nuclear technology.

The origin of the development of nuclear energy occurred during the Second World War with war aims. At the suggestion of Albert Einstein, the US president initiated what would be called the Manhatan Project to develop the atomic bomb that would later be launched in Hiroshima and Nagasaky.

Depending on the role of nuclear technology in the weapon, there are two types of nuclear weapons:

  • Nuclear weapons that use nuclear energy to explode, as would be the case with the atomic bomb.
  • Applications that use nuclear technology to propel themselves. This second category includes cruises, aircraft carriers, submarines ...

Nuclear medicine

One in three patients who go to a hospital in an industrialized country, receives the benefits of some type of nuclear medicine procedure.

Radiopharmaceuticals are used, techniques such as radiotherapy for the treatment of malignant tumors, teletherapy for oncological treatment or radiological biology to sterilize medical products.

Uses in agriculture of nuclear technology

The application of isotopes to agriculture has allowed to increase the agricultural production of the less developed countries.

Nuclear technology is very useful in the control of insect pests, in the maximum use of water resources, in the improvement of crop varieties or in the establishment of the necessary conditions to optimize the effectiveness of fertilizers and water. .

Uses of nuclear technology to food

As for food, nuclear techniques play a fundamental role in food preservation.

The use of isotopes allows to considerably increase the conservation of food. At present, more than 35 countries allow the irradiation of some foods.

Environmental uses of nuclear technology

The use of isotopes allows to determine the exact amounts of contaminating substances and places where they occur as well as their causes.

In addition, treatment with electron beams reduces the environmental and health consequences of the large-scale use of fossil fuels, and contributes more effectively than other techniques to solve problems such as "the greenhouse effect" and acid rain.

Other uses of nuclear technology

Like dating, which uses the properties of fixation of carbon-14 to bones, wood or organic waste, determining their chronological age, and uses in Geophysics and Geochemistry, which take advantage of the existence of natural radioactive materials for fixing dates of rock, coal or oil deposits.

Other uses of nuclear technology occur in disciplines such as hydrology, mining or the space industry.

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References

Last review: March 3, 2019