Nuclear Energy: Science and Technology notes for UPSC

Nuclear Energy plays a critical role in achieving sustainable economic and social development. Modern civilisation heavily depends on energy for daily activities. Energy is like a lifeline for the sustenance and progress of the entire world. Nuclear energy plays a vital role in the world economy by generating jobs, income and facilitating trade on a massive scale. For more information on UPSC Exam, check the given link IAS Exam.

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What is Nuclear Energy?

Nuclear Energy is the energy in the nucleus or core of an atom. Tiny units that make up all matter in the universe are called atoms.

How is Nuclear Energy produced?

Nuclear energy is released by splitting the atom, using the process called Nuclear fission.

How is electricity produced using Nuclear Energy?

A nuclear reactor is a power plant that can control nuclear fission to produce electricity. In the nuclear reactor, uranium is used as fuel. Atoms of uranium are split, which creates fission products which cause other uranium atoms to split, thus creating a chain reaction. The energy from this chain reaction is released in the form of heat. This heat is used to warm the nuclear reactors cooling agent, which results in the formation of steam. This steam turns the turbines, which drive the engines or generators to produce electricity.

Where was the first nuclear reactor located, that produced electricity?

Argonne National Laboratory was the first nuclear reactor to produce electricity, it was located in Idaho, USA. It was in the year 1951.

Where was the first nuclear power plant designed to provide electricity to a community?

It was set up in Obninsk, Russia in 1954.

What is the most well known incident regarding a Nuclear Power Plant?

The most well known nuclear disaster is the Chernobyl Nuclear Plan disaster in 26 Aril 1986. It took place in Ukraine which was then part of the Soviet Union. An explosion of the nuclear reactor caused radiation levels to spread in the surrounding city of Pripayat. As a result, the city was abandoned and to this day remains a ghost town with fatal levels of radiation still in place. Even to this day survivors of the incident suffer from debilitating effects of the radiation fallout.

What are the advantages of electricity produced using Nuclear Energy?

  1. It is a source of clean energy.
  2. It helps in the development of a country’s economy without adversely contributing to climate change.
  3. It does not emit any greenhouse gases.
  4. It can be built in urban or rural areas.

Nuclear Energy – Electricity production across the Globe

  1. Approximately 10% of the world’s electricity is produced using nuclear energy.
  2. Worldwide, nuclear power plants are operational in around 30 countries.
  3. In France, approximately 75% of the electricity is produced by Nuclear energy.
  4. A total of around 450 nuclear reactors are operating worldwide for generating electricity.

Nuclear Energy – Uses

  1. Provides electricity to a nation without polluting its environment unlike electricity produced from thermal sources like coal.
  2. Source of huge employment for a nation.
  3. It helps in boosting the economy of a nation and helps in achieving Sustainable Development Goals.
  4. Nuclear power is used for space explorations.
  5. Used for providing potable water through desalination
  6. Used in cancer treatment
  7. Used for sterilizing medical equipment.
  8. A country’s security needs are addressed by using nuclear-powered submarines and nuclear-powered Aircraft carriers.
  9. Nuclear radiation is used in the treatment of food by killing bacteria, insects, and parasites that cause illness.
  10. Nuclear energy could play a major role in transportation by acting as a substitute for fossil fuels.

To know more about India’s Nuclear issue visit the linked article.

Nuclear Energy Facts – India

  1. Till 2009, India was excluded from global nuclear trade as it was non-signatory of the Nuclear Non-proliferation treaty due to its nuclear weapons program. This was a hindrance to the development of India’s Civil Nuclear energy program.
  2. Approximately 2.5% of India’s energy requirements are met through nuclear energy.

Locations of Nuclear Power Plants – Planned in India

  1. Gorakhpur
  2. Chutka – Madhya Pradesh
  3. Mahi Banswara – Rajasthan

Locations of Nuclear Power Plants – Proposed

  1. Haripur – West Bengal
  2. Rajauli, Nawada – Bihar
  3. Bhimpur – Madhya Pradesh
  4. Jaitapur (Ratnagiri District) – Maharashtra
  5. Kovvada (Srikakulam District) – Andhra Pradesh
  6. Nizampatnam (Guntur District) – Andhra Pradesh
  7. Pulivendula (Kadapa District) – Andhra Pradesh
  8. Chhaya – Mithi (Bhavnagar District) – Gujarat

Locations of Uranium Resources

  1. Tummalapalle (Kadapa District) – Andhra Pradesh
  2. Nalgonda District – Telangana
  3. East Singhbhum District – Jharkhand
  4. West Khasi Hills District – Meghalaya
  5. Udaipur District – Rajasthan
  6. Yadgir District – Karnataka
  7. Rajnandgaon (District) – Chhattisgarh
  8. Sonbhadra district – Uttar Pradesh
  9. Rudraprayag District – Uttarakhand
  10. Una District – Himachal Pradesh
  11. Gondia District – Maharashtra

UPSC 2021

Nuclear Energy-Related Developments – UPSC Notes:- Download PDF Here

The above details would help candidates prepare for UPSC 2021.

Related Links

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Frequently Asked Questions on Nuclear Energy


Q 1. What are the uses of Nuclear Energy?

Ans. Nuclear Energy can be used in the following ways:
  • Produce Electricity
  • Helps on achieving Sustainable Development Goals
  • Used for sterilizing medical equipment
  • Used for space explorations

Q 2. How is nuclear fission different from nuclear fusion?

Ans. Nuclear fission is a nuclear reaction in which the nucleus of an atom is bombarded with low energy neutrons which split the nucleus into smaller nuclei. On the other hand, Nuclear Fusion is a reaction that occurs when two atoms combine together to form one or more different atomic nuclei and subatomic particles like protons and neutrons.


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