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Fossil fuels or nuclear energy: Which is more eco-friendly?

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  1. Introduction: The issue
  2. Working of fossil fuels
  3. Downsides to fossil fuels
    1. Products of combustion
    2. Acid mine drainage
  4. Improving fossil fuels
  5. Working of nuclear power
  6. Downsides to nuclear power and ways to remedy them
  7. Comparing nuclear and fossil
    1. Mining
    2. The carbon issue
  8. Conclusion
  9. Works cited

Human populations are growing at the fastest rates ever, and with this boom in population and standards of living, electricity consumption is growing. In 2007, there were 3891.7 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity used, which is a 1000 billion kilowatt-hours or a 37.17% increase in use compared to that used in 1990 (U.S. Energy Information Administration, 2008). In addition to this fact, there is a projected increase of an additional 40% by the year 2030 (Burt and Mullins, 2008). According to the Energy Information Association, the two largest sources of electricity currently in use are fossil fuels, which make up 72%, and nuclear energy, which makes up 19.4% of the current United States production (Schnapp, 2009). Fossil fuels can be broken down into two main types with several smaller groups. The main fossil fuels are natural gas and coal, which make up 21.6% and 48.5% respectively for the year 2007 (Schnapp, 2009).

[...] Downsides to Fossil Fuels Products of Combustion Coal productions produce a large amount of energy, but the coal is not pure, so more than just carbon dioxide and water escapes into the atmosphere. These mineral components either form a ?glass-like slag? or released as (Fossil Energy Office of Communications, 2008). The slag can sometimes be commercially useful, or can be a waste form. Fly ash is the gaseous impurities that are released, and typically toxic. The main toxic substances released as a gas are sulfur oxides, nitrous oxides, and carbon monoxide (Duke Energy). [...]

[...] Comparing Nuclear and Fossil Between the two common sources of energy of electricity in the world, each have their own unique downsides to contend with if one or the other is to be chosen as the main source of electricity to meet the demands of the coming future. The issue over which source is the more environmentally friendly is one of the top concerns when analyzing the two types. Burning coal and natural gas and using nuclear fission for the production of electricity all require mining. [...]

[...] In a PWR, this water is pressurized to prevent the water from boiling, and is routed into a steam generator, which boils water not in contact with nuclear material. This new boiling water spins a turbine, which generates electricity, and then cooled in a condenser to be used again. On the other hand, the BWR layout boils water directly in contact with the nuclear material in the containment structure. This boiling water turns a turbine, and then is condensed to be reused in the process (U.S. [...]

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