FAQ

Are nuclear energy and applications contributing to environment preservation and climate change monitoring?

Answer

Climate change is disrupting seasonal weather and rain patterns, accelerating glacial ice loss, exacerbating storm frequency and ferocity, contributing to longer droughts and flooding disasters, degrading soil fertility, and speeding the migration of pest insects, invasive plant species and infectious animal diseases. Through nuclear applications, temperature and drought-resistant crops strains can be introduced, fresh water reserves located and mapped, water pollution tracked and soil conservation tools developed. In addition, nuclear applications are powerful tools in understanding the drivers of climate change. For example, natural and artificial radionuclides are used to quantify processes such as ocean circulation, transport of pollutants in coastal ecosystems, sedimentation and submarine discharge of underground waters. MALINA is an example of an international co-operative Arctic program aimed at studying the consequences of global warming and subsequent melting of the ice cover and the permafrost on the ecosystem of the Arctic Sea and namely of the Beaufort Sea. Nuclear energy is contributing to the decrease of CO2emissions since it produces virtually no greenhouse gases. The complete nuclear power chain, from uranium mining to waste disposal, including reactor and facilities construction, emits only 2-6 grams of carbon dioxide per kilowatt-hour.

Background

Smoke detectors
A smoke detector is a device that detects smoke, indicating a fire. Commercial, industrial, and mass residential devices issue a signal to a fire alarm system, while household detectors, known as smoke alarms, generally issue a local audible and/or visual alarm from the detector itself.

Most smoke detectors work either by optical detection (photoelectric) or by physical process (ionization), while others use both detection methods to increase sensitivity to smoke.
Detectors using ionizing radiation from Americium 241 are cheaper.They can detect particles of smoke that are too small to be visible. It includes about 37 kBq or 1µCi of radioactive americium 241(241Am), corresponding to about 0.3 µg of the isotope. The radiation passes through an ionizing chamber, an air-filled space between two electrodes, and permits a small, constant current between the electrodes. Any smoke that enters the chamber absorbs the alpha particles, which reduces the ionization and interrupts this current, setting off the alarm.
 
Reference: Wikipedia
 

Radiometric dating

What is radiometric dating?

One of the elements of the periodic classification is Carbon14. It is used in archaeology for dating prehistoric organic remains like wood, charcoal, paintings, artefacts and bones. It helps dating minerals and rocks. Other applications using synchrotron radiation have been useful in investigating biological molecules (destruction of the mould on pharaoh Ramses II mummy)
 
Sterilization
An interesting application is in the field of reusable nappies: UV irradiation techniques are used to sterilize them and bring more efficiency in the washing and drying process. It leads to conservation of water and decrease in detergent uses.
 
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