What Are the Advantages and Disadvantages of Nuclear Fission?

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Nuclear fission is a clean and efficient way of producing energy but can be dangerous if safety precautions are not taken and followed. It is a controversial source of energy production that powers a large part of the world but has resulted in disastrous accidents in the past.

Nuclear fission is currently one of the most efficient ways there is to produce useful energy. The process of fission breaks apart a single uranium (or similar type of element) atom to produce energy. A single uranium atom produces more energy than 10 million carbon atoms (in coal) being burned. Compared to coal power plants, nuclear fission creates less pollution, especially in the context of climate change. Far less mining and transportation of ore is needed than for coal, and the fission process itself creates no air pollution. Also, because of the small amount of uranium needed, it does not face the same supply limitations of fossil fuels.

The tremendous amount of energy that results from fission can be dangerous if not controlled. The famous Chernobyl explosion at a nuclear fission plan in 1986 killed 31 people and caused long-term damage to a large surrounding area. The increased radioactivity levels in the area contributed to over 15,000 additional deaths. Fission also produces radioactive waste that needs to be securely stored and protected until it slowly become less radioactive over time. Storage in the future could be an issue as free space declines.