The Instigator
Ore_Ele
Pro (for)
Winning
31 Points
The Contender
Coda
Con (against)
Losing
1 Points

Nuclear Energy

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 5 votes the winner is...
Ore_Ele
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 6/6/2013 Category: Science
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,976 times Debate No: 34459
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (8)
Votes (5)

 

Ore_Ele

Pro

This is going to be a simple Pro Nuclear Energy vs Con Nuclear Energy. No specific resolution, just the broad subject of using nuclear energy.

Burden of Proof - The BoP falls equally on both debaters to support and defend their arguments while refuting their opponent's. For example, Con can focus on negative effects to the environment, safety issues, or better alternatives rendering Nuclear obsolete, but Con cannot just disagree with everything Pro puts up (and vise versa).

I will go ahead and present some definitions. Unless Con finds these definitions to be abusive, they are to be accepted. If Con finds them abusive, Con is free to present alternative definitions, but then it will be up to the voters to agree if my definitions are abusive or not.

Nuclear energy (as it pertains to this debate) - The gathering of energy from nuclear fission or nuclear fusion to use in commercial purposes (such as electricity).

Nuclear fission - A nuclear reaction in which a heavy nucleus splits spontaneously or on impact with another particle, with the release of energy. [1]

Nuclear fusion - A nuclear reaction in which atomic nuclei of low atomic number fuse to form a heavier nucleus with the release of energy. [2]

Con may present any additional definitions that they choose and may start debating in their R1, however, they are also free to pass it back to me to start in my R2.

Additional definitions may be added as needed throughout the entire debate.

[1] https://www.google.com...=
[2] https://www.google.com...=
Coda

Con

While I am all for alternatives to fossil fuels i have to say that nuclear energy is my least favorite. I may not produce any green house gasses it still is dangerous to dispose of it could kill many living thing the way that the careless scientest dispose of it. Not to mention the fact that it could create acid rain, and kill trees, fish, animals of all kinds, and human beings.
Debate Round No. 1
Ore_Ele

Pro

I would like to thank my opponent for accepting this debate and look forward to a wonder debate on the merits of Nuclear Energy.

I will be presenting my arguments then address the points brought up by my opponent.

My argument is going to break down into three separate categories. Effectiveness, Safety, and Cost.

== My Arguments ==

1)Effectiveness of Nuclear Energy

Nuclear reactors generate electricity though good ol' fashion steam driven generators (the two most common reactors are the PWR [1] and the BWR [2]). The only thing that the nuclear material is used for is heating up the water and turning it into steam. This may sound like old technology, but with modern technology, it is quite capable of generating immense amounts of usable energy with very little input.

Since the water that is turned to steam can be cooled and condensed, the water can be reused, and so never needs to be replaced. This means that the only thing that needs to be replaced is the nuclear fuel and parts through general wear and tear (usually the generator, since it has the most moving parts). The nuclear fuel can last about 2 years before needing to be replaced in modern power plants [3]. However, new designs, such as the TWR [4] are designed so that they can go decades between refueling and can even use fuel that was once viewed as waste (only using a small amount of U235, and a vast majority of U238).

Your average nuclear reactor produces around 1,000 MW of power, and many power plants will have several reactors on site. The average American home uses 940 kWh per month [5]. This means that a single nuclear reactor (at 1,000 MW) can provide power for about 766,000 homes (exact number is 765,957.5).

2)Safety of nuclear energy and its waste

Everyone knows that nuclear material can be dangerous to your health if you are directly exposed to it. This is why nuclear power plants go to crazy lengths to protect people for as much risk as they can. In PWRs, along with many computerized safety systems, the nuclear material is removed from the environment by two layers of the functioning reactor. While in the BWR, the water that the reactor is in is only removed by one layer. Emerging styles, like the PBMR [6] that use silicon carbide for friction protection, are essentially meltdown proof, as should the reactor lose power, the natural flow of the gases in the reactor would prevent a meltdown.

When it comes to the waste, reprocessing can eliminate around 80% of it, though it isn't a flat 80% that is being removed. It is basically digging through the waste and gathering the remaining U238 and the Pu239 that forms and is not fissiled away. Originally, we only reprocessed to gather the Pu239 in order to make bombs, but that Pu239 can be used as fuel. What aren't reused in the waste are all the Cs, Rb, I, and other fissile products. While those are still dangerous and need to be handled with care, the biggest bad boy in the waste is actually the Pu239 (partially because it will turn to the super evil Radon gas). The rest is bad, but not nearly close to Pu. This means that by reprocessing it, it actually makes less waste, and more importantly makes it safer for the whole family (not recommended for children under 10, the elderly, pregnant women, or human skin in general). We also have a wonderful option in new technologies that are developing such as nuclear decay reactors (NDR) [8], which allow us to take radioactive waste, place it in a modified reactor and simply turn the heat that comes off of it into electricity.
The other option is to take the waste away and bury it. Now, if the waste is reprocessed, all the Pu239, U238, and any U235 still in it, are removed. So all we have left is the fissile product. The most common of which is Cs133, I135, Zr93 and Mo99, but there are many different elements, all of which have a different half life. For U235 thermal nuclear reaction, 72.24% of the fissile product has a half-life of less than 100 years while only 27.76% is over 1,000 years (surprisingly none of it is between 100 and 1,000 years) [9]. So most of this stuff will naturally decay away into safe and stable elements (many in weeks), while only a little actually remains for thousands of years.

3)Cost of building and Maintaining Nuclear Power.

Currently (as of 2010), the cost of nuclear fuel for a single reload was $40 million [10]. Now, that may sound like a lot of money. But given that it only needs to be reloaded once every 18 months makes it very cheap indeed (about 0.65 cents per kWh). And with TWR which can use all of the U238, and not just a portion of enriched Uranium, their cost would be lower. In 2010, the average cost of operation and maintenance for a US reactor came in at about 1.49 cents per kWh. And that is with all of the government regulations (some of which are needed, but some of which are not). There are some other costs (like the Nuclear Waste Fund and such), but they come in at around 0.1 cents per kWh.

This makes the fuel for nuclear power much cheaper than conventional gas or coal. The downside, is that nuclear power plants are more expensive to construct. Currently around $4,500 per kW, compared to Coal's $3,400 per kW or Natural Gas's $1,000 per kW [11].

== My Opponent's arguments ==

My opponent addresses two main points, disposal and environmental.

1) Disposal

Disposal can be looked at in two aspects, safety of disposal and the breakdown period. The safety of the disposal is really already top notch. We can see the kind of testing and abuse they had to stand up to decades ago in the linked youtube video [12]. If we look into the breakdown period, the numbers may seem staggering, but really, it is far from the case.

Let us first realize the small amount of waste that a nuclear power plant produces. Only 20 tons per plant per year [13], and that is before reprocessing. Back in my section 2, I showed that 80% can be reprocessed. This leaves only 4 tons of waste per plant per year. If the US used 100% nuclear energy, that would be a little shy of 500 plants, which would be only 2,000 tons per year. That may sound like a lot but lets put it into perspective, the Roosevelt Regional Landfill processes 8,300 ton of garbage every single day [14], and that is for a single landfill in the US. It has a 120 million ton capacity, meaning if it was dedicated to nuclear waste storage, it could hold 60,000 years worth of waste, and that is not considering the fact that the waste breaks down over time.

2) Environmental

Acid rain is caused by a number of things, but nuclear energy is not one of them. The burning of fossil fuels, however, is a major contributor, since SO2 or NOx are the main causes [15]. But none of these are released by nuclear power plants.

With this being said, I will turn the floor over to my opponent.

Thank you

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org...
[2] http://en.wikipedia.org...
[3] http://www-formal.stanford.edu...
[4] http://www2.technologyreview.com...
[5] http://www.eia.gov...
[6] http://en.wikipedia.org...
[7] http://www.world-nuclear.org...
[8] http://www.freedomforfission.org.uk...
[9] http://en.wikipedia.org...
[10] http://www.nei.org...
[11] http://www.nei.org...
[12] https://www.youtube.com... see video
[13] http://www.nei.org...
[14] http://clui.org...
[15] http://www.epa.gov...
Coda

Con

I think this debate is taking a different turn of events
Debate Round No. 2
Ore_Ele

Pro

Extend arguments, I guess.
Coda

Con

yes I suppose I only had one argument. I do believe you had more convincing arguments. You have won, but just for the record I wasn't saying that nuclear energy is not one of the best alternatives to fossil fuels. I need to complete three arguments and this is one of the only ones that was open.
Debate Round No. 3
Ore_Ele

Pro

You used me to get your three debates just to vote?

Coda

Con

sorry but your debates are much more convincing than mine. Sorry you feel used if is makes any difference to you I actually WANTED to debate on this not thinking about how many arguments I could present. :s
Debate Round No. 4
8 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 8 records.
Posted by Ore_Ele 3 years ago
Ore_Ele
CWK - One could also argue then that sugars are made from plants, which feed off of sun light, that we are nuclear powered.
Posted by CanWeKnow 3 years ago
CanWeKnow
Despite the Pro's and Con's, i'm just not O.K. with sticking nuclear waste underground for thousands of years, regardless of how "safe" the containers are. That's like wiping your boogers underneath your mattress. You may not see them, you may not feel them, you may not smell them, but when you finally have to clean it up, shoot, that's one disgusting mess.
Posted by CanWeKnow 3 years ago
CanWeKnow
Part of the problem is that we aren't really sure if the net energy gains from nuclear fission even make up for the total energy cost of building the plant, enriching the uranium or plutonium, and then safe storage and removal of depleted uranium or plutonium. We aren't quite sure yet because we are only now taking down some of the reactors that we built in the late '70s. In most cases we just bury the radioactive barrels of depleted fuel. We know that the half life is 25k years so we can expect them to remain radioactive for at least that long. This means that eventually we would run out of neutron rich elements to place in our reactors. The other downside is of course safety concerns. Not only are they at risk during normal operation, but should an enemy blow one of them up with a missile it would mean disaster. But like I said, the biggest problem is net energy gain. The process itself is very efficient, but the whole shin-dig from start to finish just uses so much energy. This is also compounded by the effects of radiation leak. Should damage be done, the energy required to clean up that mess would be quite large as well. This is just my basic knowledge of nuclear energy. Feel free to correct me if i'm wrong.
Posted by YYW 3 years ago
YYW
I'd like to debate Ore-Ele, but I don't know that a good case against nuclear energy can be made. Are there problems? Sure... but the benefits overwhelmingly outweigh the costs, especially relative to other energy sources.
Posted by CanWeKnow 3 years ago
CanWeKnow
Haha I didn't mean to offend. Well the sun gives off energy in the form of heat and light, this energy is a result of nuclear fusion. We can collect this energy using solar heat collectors and photovoltaic cells to produce electricity. It's not abuse if you define it the way you already have. The only practical difference between nuclear fission power plants and solar energy is that solar energy requires different collection methods. Not to mention is a hell of a lot safer.
Posted by gordonjames 3 years ago
gordonjames
I would love to debate this.
Unfortunately I will be out of town in a few days, and not looking at a computer.
Have fun all.
Posted by Ore_Ele 3 years ago
Ore_Ele
For point 2) that would be a grotesque abuse of definitions. While I understand that you are not familiar with me, I do not do that kind of thing with my own debates. I have already done a few Nuclear Energy debates on this site if one would like to see a reference point of things I will likely talk about.
Posted by CanWeKnow 3 years ago
CanWeKnow
I'm not accepting this challenge for two reasons. 1. I'm too lazy to do the research atm. 2. Your definition of nuclear energy include's solar/photovoltaic energy.
5 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 5 records.
Vote Placed by Juris_Naturalis 3 years ago
Juris_Naturalis
Ore_EleCodaTied
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Total points awarded:70 
Reasons for voting decision: Con had punctual issues in round one, as well as not posting an argument in any round, please don't consider this a bomb vote, but really, all points to pro for a better argument, grammar, sources and conduct.
Vote Placed by Maikuru 3 years ago
Maikuru
Ore_EleCodaTied
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Total points awarded:60 
Reasons for voting decision: Full forfeit by Con
Vote Placed by jzonda415 3 years ago
jzonda415
Ore_EleCodaTied
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Total points awarded:70 
Reasons for voting decision: PM me if you think I need a reason.
Vote Placed by 1Devilsadvocate 3 years ago
1Devilsadvocate
Ore_EleCodaTied
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Total points awarded:51 
Reasons for voting decision: In the words of con, " I do believe you [pro] had more convincing arguments. You have won". I do agree that there is a problem of people doing debates just to reach 3, it was wrong for Pro to accuse con of doing so with, IMHO, seemingly insufficient evidence.
Vote Placed by RyuuKyuzo 3 years ago
RyuuKyuzo
Ore_EleCodaTied
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Total points awarded:60 
Reasons for voting decision: Honestly, it's not worth writing a full RFD. I'm sure my RFD is obvious.