Chapter

Nuclear Energy and Electric Power

Vernon W. Ruttan

in Is War Necessary for Economic Growth?

Published in print January 2006 | ISBN: 9780195188042
Published online February 2006 | e-ISBN: 9780199783410 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/0195188047.003.0004
 Nuclear Energy and Electric Power

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Nuclear power is an example of a technology that, in the absence of military and defense-related research, development, and procurement, would not have been developed at all. The demonstration of controlled nuclear fission at the University of Chicago’s Stagg Field on December 2, 1942 initiated a chain of events that led to the development of the atomic bomb and nuclear power. The design of the first nuclear power reactor, located at Shippingport, Pennsylvania, was adapted from nuclear reactors developed to power nuclear submarines. Premature commitment to light water reactor technology appears, in retrospect, to have been a source of failure of the nuclear power industry to realize the promise it appeared to have in the 1950s. It is possible that during the first half of the 21st century, nuclear power will be able to make a significant contribution to meeting the growth in demand for electric power; by substituting for carbon-based fuels, it may also contribute to slowing the accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

Keywords: nuclear fission; atomic bomb; nuclear power; nuclear submarine; light water reactor; greenhouse gases

Chapter.  8767 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Economic Development and Growth

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