Nuclear Power Quiz
Some people think of nuclear power as a threatening menace, while others see it as a long-term source of greener electricity. How's your knowledge on the pros and cons of nuclear energy?start quiz
Question 1 of 10
Nuclear power plants produce energy through:
... Nuclear power plants get their energy from splitting atoms of uranium-235. This is induced fission. Uranium-235 is one of the few materials on Earth that can undergo induced fission.
Question 2 of 10
Uranium-235 splits when _______ hits its nucleus:
... In induced fission of uranium-253, a free neutron runs an atom's nucleus. The nucleus absorbs the neutron, becomes unstable and splits into two parts.
Question 3 of 10
Uranium is a fairly common element on Earth, but it was originally formed:
... Uranium started out as stardust that became part of the Earth as the planet formed. This happened billions of years ago, but uranium has a very long half-life, which means there's plenty of it still around.
Question 4 of 10
Fission produces lots of energy because:
... In induced fission, a uranium-235 atom splits into two parts and expels two or three neutrons. These parts are less massive than the original atom, and the difference in mass is converted to energy. The equation that describes this process is Einstein's famous E = mc2.
Question 5 of 10
The ideal shape for the uranium-235 sample used in a nuclear reactor is:
... In a nuclear reactor, fission is a chain reaction. A free neutron from each split uranium-235 nucleus should hit another nucleus, causing another split. Pyramids and sheets have lots of surface area from which neutrons can fly off, hitting nothing.
Question 6 of 10
The main difference between a nuclear plant and an oil- or coal-fired plant is:
... Coal-fired, oil-fired and nuclear power plants all have the same basic purpose -- to use heat to make steam. A heat source turns water into steam, which drives a steam turbine in a generator. The generator produces electricity. In a nuclear plant, the heat source is the uranium fuel.
Question 7 of 10
For optimal energy production, the uranium-235 in a nuclear reactor must be:
... When a reactor operates in a critical state, one neutron from each fission causes another fission. Each time an atom splits, energy is released in the form of heat and gamma radiation. The fuel bundle in a reactor is slightly supercritical, causing the fuel to heat up.
Question 8 of 10
To prevent overheating, control rods:
... Control rods are made of materials that absorb neutrons. If plant operators need the fuel to produce more heat, they raise the rods out of the fuel sample. If the sample is at risk of overheating, operators lower the rods, cutting down on the number of free neutrons.
Question 9 of 10
What prevents the escape of radiation in the event of an accident at a nuclear plant?
... Between a nuclear reactor and the outside world are a radiation shield and a containment vessel. These keep radioactive material inside the plant. A large concrete building designed to withstand impact acts as a secondary containment structure in case of emergency.
Question 10 of 10
What are some of the difficulties with nuclear power?
... Nuclear power plants are clean and efficient, but there are some difficulties with nuclear energy production. They all relate to the fuel -- mining, purifying and transporting it, both before and after it's been used in the reactor. Accidents, while rare, can also be deadly.
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