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Materials in Engineering Systems - Uranium - Research Paper Example


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Materials in Engineering Systems - Uranium

Many regulatory agencies and activist groups work towards certain ends in the debate. Uranium seems set for a period of high significance as fossil fuels become scarce. The most viable replacement to Uranium is Thorium. The production of Uranium remains one of the most controversial issues in the energy industry. Uranium is naturally radioactive hence there are a range of issues that attend it entire life cycle. Along with the rest of the nuclear industry, Uranium mining, processing, use and disposal all attract a lot of attention from various parties. The main producers of Uranium are Kazakhstan, Canada, and Australia. Kazakhstan produces about 23% of the world’s uranium, while together with Canada and Australia, the production is 63% (Dahlkamp 11). Other countries that produce Uranium include Namibia, Niger, Russia, Uzbekistan, and the United States (Dahlkamp 11). There have been several booms in the price of Uranium ore during various stages of the development of the industry. The distribution of Uranium revolves around countries that have direct interests in the nuclear technologies. The risks associated with the material makes its distribution a highly regulated affair. Several agencies, such as the International Atomic Energy Agency, monitor the processing and distribution of Uranium (IAEA 45). ...
The other major use of spent uranium is for the production of nuclear warheads. There are very few viable alternatives to Uranium. The most promising one is Thorium. Some scientists claim

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that Thorium is easier to use to produce atomic energy compared to Uranium (Forbes). They also contend that the use of Uranium produces less waste and is safer to work with. Another strong point is that the Thorium cycle utilizes all the material mined as compared to Uranium, which uses only a small part of the total material mined. This means that there is a smaller impact on the environment per unit material mined (Forbes). The current estimates on the availability of Uranium in the long term indicate that at current levels of demand, the known reserves will last another one hundred years. The demand for Uranium may increase rapidly over the next decades because of the pressure on fossil fuels. Coupled with environmental concerns, nuclear power will become more sensible since it has no emissions. This does not mean that there are no environmental concerns. It only means that nuclear power does not pollute the environment so long as everything is working normally. The use of alternative forms of energy such as solar and wind may reduce the impact of dwindling fossil fuel reserves if they can develop fast enough to provide bulk power. These forces will determine the prices of Uranium ore in the coming decades. There is a lot of scrutiny in Uranium mines hence there are few incidents of labor problems such as use of child labor in the mining of the ore. The major environmental concern in the life cycle of Uranium is radiation. Uranium is naturally radioactive. This makes it a risk to miners and other people involved in its processing. Due to
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School of Engineering & Applied Science Materials in Engineering Systems EAS 213 2011 TO: Dr. FROM: Customer Inserts Name Subject: Research Paper on Materials Date: December 14, 2011 Uranium is an important resource because of its application as a fuel for nuclear reactors…
Materials in Engineering Systems - Uranium
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