The Science of Nuclear Energy

Free Online course
The Science of Nuclear Energy
21 May, 17 Sep  2018

With the need to reduce carbon emissions around the world, the way we generate our power has to change and nuclear energy is back on the political agenda.

But do you know your fission from your fusion? Would you like to make an informed decision about whether we should get electricity from nuclear power?

This online course will delve into the science behind nuclear power, explaining what happens inside a nuclear reactor and what radioactive elements are.

It will explore the arguments for and against nuclear power, and its role in future energy planning alongside other energy sources.

What topics will you cover?
  1. Atomic physics and the nature of isotopes and radioactivity. The processes of fission and fusion.
  2. The distinction between energy of power and the increasing need to generate electrical power
  3. The use of nuclear fission in power stations. The production of radioactive waste and some solutions
  4. The cause of nuclear incidents in the past, the effect on the environment and local populations.
  5. The national grid and possible energy sources.
  6. Future developments in the technology that harnesses nuclear fission and fusion.

What will you achieve?
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the physics of nuclear fission.
  • Explore how a nuclear power station works.
  • Explore and examine the problems associated with nuclear power. Weigh up and debate potential solutions to these problems.
  • Assess the energy needs today and the part that nuclear power has to play.
  • Compare and survey current and future technologies.

Who is the course for?
The course does not assume any prior knowledge of nuclear energy and can be enjoyed by anyone interested in science and becoming more informed of energy choices.

Who will you learn with?

Sam Smidt and Gemma Warriner, Sam and Gemma studied physics together and both have long experience of teaching a variety of science topics at the OU particularly looking at how science is relevant to society.

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