Weekly study4 hours
Understanding Nuclear Power
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Find out what role nuclear power might play in our energy future
Nuclear power remains contentious – does it offer a sustainable energy future? Or do the risks outweigh the benefits? This online course will answer such questions.
Despite accidents like Fukushima Daiichi, many countries are building new nuclear power plants. You’ll look at the engineering and financial aspects of these large infrastructures; learn about the technologies involved; and explore how fuels and radioactive waste should be managed.
You’ll also examine the outlook for nuclear power, exploring future challenges for companies and countries, and how they can be overcome.
- The drivers for nuclear energy as a power option, the ‘Energy Policy Trilemma’.
- Nuclear fission, how a nuclear chain reaction is started and controlled.
- The features of a pressurised water reactor, the dominant design for nuclear power generation.
- Fuel cycles, from extraction to disposal, and the implications for proliferation and waste management.
- The nature of a nuclear safety culture and how past incidents inform present practice.
- The role of nuclear in a mixed mode power solution, and the achievement of governmental environmental policy.
- The business risks of developing new nuclear capacity and the necessary conditions in a liberalised energy market to promote new builds.
Learning on this course
On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.
What will you achieve?
By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...
- Evaluate the key policy, environmental and economic dimensions of building new civil nuclear power capacity.
- Evaluate nuclear power’s contribution to the climate control debate and current EU policy.
- Debate the role of nuclear power in a modern energy mix.
- Explore the scientific and engineering dimensions of generating nuclear.
- Explore the management of waste produced by operating nuclear reactors.
Who is the course for?
This course is intended for those with a basic understanding of nuclear energy. You’ll need to be familiar with the following concepts: protons, neutrons, elements, isotopes; the difference between nuclear fission energy and nuclear fusion energy; alpha, beta and gamma radiation; radioactive decay; the difference between momentum and kinetic energy; the separate roles played by conduction and convection in heat transfer; the basic concept of a nuclear reactor; and finally the probability of four coin tosses yielding four ‘heads’ results.
If you’re new to this area we’d suggest trying The Science of Nuclear Energy course first.