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Questioning Nuclear Power's Ability To Forestall Global Warming

Date:
April 22, 2008
Source:
American Chemical Society
Summary:
Rising energy and environmental costs may prevent nuclear power from being a sustainable alternative energy source in the fight against global warming, according to a new study.

In a new study, scientists question the sustainability of nuclear power because of anticipated declines in high-grade uranium ore. Above is Australia's Ranger uranium mill.
Credit: Gavin M. Mudd

Rising energy and environmental costs may prevent nuclear power from being a sustainable alternative energy source in the fight against global warming, according to a new study.

In the article, Gavin M. Mudd and Mark Diesendorf investigate the "eco-efficiency" of mining and milling uranium for use as fuel in nuclear power plants. Advocates of nuclear power claim it has the potential to mitigate global warming. Detractors, however, link it to dangers such as proliferation of nuclear weapons and problems such as permanent disposal of nuclear waste.

The study points out that supplies of high-grade uranium ore are declining, which may boost nuclear fuel's environmental and economic costs, including increases in energy use, water consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. In addition, newly discovered uranium deposits may be more difficult to extract in the future -- a further drain on economic and environmental resources.

"The extent of economically recoverable uranium, although somewhat uncertain, is clearly linked to exploration effort, technology and economics but is inextricably linked to environmental costs, such as energy, water, and chemicals consumption, greenhouse gas emissions and broader social issues," the authors say. "These issues are critical to understand in the current debate over nuclear power, greenhouse gas emissions, and climate change, especially with respect to ascribing sustainability to such activities as uranium milling and mining."

The article "Sustainability of Uranium Mining and Milling: Quantifying Resources and Eco-Efficiency" is published in the April 1 issue of ACS' Environmental Science & Technology.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Chemical Society. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

American Chemical Society. "Questioning Nuclear Power's Ability To Forestall Global Warming." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 22 April 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/04/080421123231.htm>.
American Chemical Society. (2008, April 22). Questioning Nuclear Power's Ability To Forestall Global Warming. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/04/080421123231.htm
American Chemical Society. "Questioning Nuclear Power's Ability To Forestall Global Warming." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/04/080421123231.htm (accessed April 21, 2014).

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