How Things Work Model – Nuclear Power Plant

What problem does our technology try to solve?

Nuclear power plants were invented to create a large amount of energy using a small amount of fuel and to reduce the greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere. A 8.5g pellet of Uranium can provide as much energy as 1 ton of coal. Nuclear power plants do not release greenhouse gases and are better for the environment.

What are the main parts of a nuclear power plant and what are their functions?

There are many components of a nuclear power plant that allow it to function.

  1. Fuel Rods – Provide Uranium atoms for the fission process.
  2. Control Rods – Control the fission rate in the reactor.
  3. Moderator – (usually water) Located inside the reactor, slows down Uranium molecules.
  4. Generator / Turbine – Turns steam into electricity.
  5. Containment Chamber – Keeps steam in and covers reactor and steam generator. (barrier)
  6. Condenser – Condenses steam to pass through turbine.
  7. Pumps (water pumps) – Pumps cool the reactors. Water being pumped through the systems pushes water past nuclear core and removes heat.
  8. Cooling Tower – Dissipates heat into atmosphere.
  9. Pipes – Transfer water and steam throughout the power plant.
  10. Steam generator – Convert water into steam from heat produced in the nuclear reactor.

How does a nuclear power plant produce energy?

Nuclear energy is produced from the splitting of Uranium atoms. This process is called fission. This generates heat which creates steam that passes through a turbine and generates energy.

What are the social implications?

There are pros and cons to power plants based on their affect on society.

Social Pros:

  • Job Intensive – Power plants create a lot of job opportunities and offer a lot of different specialties for everyone.
  • Resilience – Nuclear power plants are very resilient during harsh weather, which means the jobs created by the power plant will be available year.
  • Low operating costs – Power plants cost very little to power, as not very much fuel (uranium) is required to create energy.

Social Cons:

  • Explosive – If an explosion was ever to occur in a nuclear power plant, the radioactivity released into the atmosphere would have severe consequences. The community would be evacuated and would never be able to come back.
  • Size – Nuclear power plants are large in size and have many components that take up a lot of space. The cities in which nuclear power plants are located must limit the expansion of homes to ensure there is enough space to construct the power plant.

What are the environmental implications?

Environmental Pros:

  • No greenhouse gases – Nuclear power plants do not release greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. They do not use fossil fuel to produce energy, therefore carbon dioxide emissions are not released from the power plant.
  • Resilience – Nuclear power plants are very resilient to extreme weather conditions. Therefore, they continue to produce energy all year.
  • Fuel efficiency – To create power in a nuclear reactor, uranium rods are used as a fuel source. An 8.5g pellet of uranium can produce as much energy as one ton of coal. Using nuclear power plants to produce energy will save fuel resources.

Environmental Cons:

  • Explosions – Nuclear power plants are full of radioactive particles. If something goes wrong, the whole plant could explode. The radioactive particles would spread into the atmosphere and travel many miles around the city it exploded in. This would change how plants, animals and humans live in these areas.
  • Size – Nuclear power plants are very large and take up a lot of space in cities they are located in. Tearing down trees and altering the environment surrounding the plant may be necessary to build a plant.
  • Disposal – There is no safe way to dispose of nuclear waste. Often it is buried or kept in chambers with a moderator until their radioactivity rate has decreased. They can cause damage to the environment and surrounding habitats.

Evaluate – Does your technology do its intended task?

In my opinion, nuclear power plants do a great job of creating a large amount of energy with a small amount of fuel.

Fresh Periodic Table

Fresh Periodic Table:

We created a new format for the periodic table using chemical properties and different orders. The elements are arranged in alphabetical order and in order of type of element.

  1. Yellow = Transitional Metals
  2. Blue = Halogens
  3. Pink = Alkali Metals
  4. Green = Alkaline Earth Metals
  5. Purple box = Noble gases
  6. Blue box = Hydrogen

* Spaces between elements in the same column represent a new letter *

COL – Solution Fluency + Collaboration Fluency

Define:

Create a new format for the Periodic Table using known chemical properties, arrangements and pre-existing organisations of the Periodic Table. Use new shapes, colors and arrangements to develop a new useful periodic table.

Dream:

We wanted to create a periodic table that was easier to use and made sense to someone who was new to using it. We thought we could have a more refined shape and use colors to distinguish between different kinds of elements. Instead of creating a more complicated periodic table, we made one that is still useful but makes it easier to identify and classify different elements and their properties.

Deliver:

We create a paper copy of our new periodic table and used colors to separate each type of element. Our periodic table is in alphabetical order and it is arranged in order of kind of element. (Transitional, Alkali Metals, Alkaline Earth Metals, Halogens, Noble Gases)

Debrief:

The process was a challenging but also very eye-opening. Working with a partner is different than working alone and combining our ideas was an interesting process. We ran into several challenges but worked through them together and worked well together. We were understanding and helped each other through the challenges we faced.

Wonder Project – What would happen to Earth if all humans disappeared?

Wonder Project – By Brianna Brill

What would happen to Earth if all humans disappeared? 

If all humans were to disappear, the Earth would eventually almost fully recover. Fields would revert back to flourishing forests, air and water become free of pollutants, and roads and cities will crumble to dust. Modern buildings are built to last 60 years, bridges 120 years and dams 250. These lifespans are calculated with the thought that humans will continue to repair them, so without humans fixing these structures, they will likely breakdown a lot faster. 

Within days, all generated electricity will be gone. The loss of electricity will cause the water pumps, sewage treatment plants and other machinery in modern society to stop working, also causing flooding in several major cities. The 430 active power plants on the planet will also be drastically affected by the loss of the human race. As the cooling water evaporates, the power plants will likely catch fire or melt away, releasing radiation into the atmosphere.  

After a few years, nature will begin to reclaim its territory. As swamps that once covered large areas begin to reappear. As forests sprout in new places and cover pre-existing cities and buildings. As deserts cover cities in sand and when all remnants of our past civilization are gone.  

Without humans, fish populations will fully recover within a few years. Most endangered species will reproduce and save their species as well. Majority of endangered animals would thrive and recover without humans, but there are some that will suffer without the help of human protection. Many systems are effective to ensure the safety of some endangered species, without anyone to manage these systems, the animals can actually go completely extinct.  

Without electricity to keep electric fences working, livestock will eventually escape from their enclosures looking for food. With no humans there to feed them, they will either die of starvation or become food for domestic dogs and cats who have left their homes also looking for food. After about a year, most domestic cat breeds and small domestic dog breeds will go extinct due to their inability to survive in the wild. Some escaped zoo animals may even start a new thriving colony in different parts of the world, where they were not originally from. 

In the past 50 years, we have produced over one billion tons of plastic. Once we are gone, plastic will remain our legacy. An evolutionary biologist suggests that in 100,000 years, a type of bacterium will evolve making it able to eat plastic, making our planet free of our plastic waste. Overtime, metals will deteriorate, and cars will become patches of iron oxide. Forever radiating through space will be the electro-magnetic radio waves we’ve released using our newer technology.

Our planet would generally be healthier without us claiming land, cutting down forests, destroying animal habitats, polluting the air and throwing waste in our oceans. Nature would be able to fully recover from our civilization if we were ever to vanish. In order to keep the human race alive, we need to ensure we limit overpopulation, clean up our oceans and do everything we can to make our planet a safer and cleaner place to live. We need Earth a lot more than it needs us, and we need to remember that. Save the planet.

 

Sources: 

Holmes, Bob. “Earth without humans: just how profound an impact have we had on our planet? An intriguing thought experiment reveals all.” New Scientist, 14 Oct. 2006, p. 36+. Science in Context, http://link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/A152936382/GPS?u=43riss&sid=GPS&xid=a53c74e0. Accessed 5 Feb. 2019.

Russell, Sharman Apt. “The World Without Us.” OnEarth, Fall 2007, p. 49. Science in Context, http://link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/A168921922/GPS?u=43riss&sid=GPS&xid=e85d0afa. Accessed 1 Feb. 2019. 

Wright, Jonathan. “The Earth After Us: What Legacy Will Humans Leave in the Rocks?” Geographical, Sept. 2008, p. 73. Science in Context, http://link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/A203026048/GPS?u=43riss&sid=GPS&xid=949ab015. Accessed 5 Feb. 2019. 

Langois, Sean. June 6, 2016. “10 things that would happen to the planet if humans were to completely disappear” https://www.marketwatch.com/story/10-things-that-would-happen-to-the-planet-if-humans-were-to-completely-disappear-2016-06-06

Images : Pexels

https://www.pexels.com/photo/arcachon-basin-basin-of-arcachon-beach-blue-458983/

https://www.pexels.com/photo/sky-earth-galaxy-universe-2422/

Videos : Youtube

COL Reflection :

Questions I asked to find my information :

  • What would happen to Earth if all humans disappeared?
  • How have we impacted the planet (positively and negatively)?
  • Could there ever be another civilization?
  • What was Earth like before humans?
  • How is Earth different now from how it was before us?
  • Would the planet ever fully recover from humans?

New or Familiar digital tools :

I have never used Gale Engaged Learning in the past and I prefer using this as a primary source because I know it is true, researched information. I used reliable Google websites after doing research to ensure the information was correct.

Process used to investigate topic : 

I would figure out what question I was using and what information I was looking for. Then I would find reliable sources and organize my information into notes and separate each topic/question into sections.

How I verified and cited the information I found :

I knew that Gale Engaged Learning was a trusted, scientific source, but I still ensured that the information I was using made sense and that I could find multiple articles with the same general information. If I was using Google as a search engine, I would ensure the site was a known, trusted information site and that the information was repeated throughout different articles. I used citing tools on the trusted site “Gale Engaged Learning” to cite my information and used links if the information was from another source.

How did it go? What could I have done better? :

I enjoyed learning about a new topic that I was interested in and that I could use in the future. I learnt how to use new digital sources for trusted, scientific information which I can also use for future projects.

I think I could have organized my notes a bit better to make sure that I had enough of the information that I needed and to easily write and construct my paragraphs. I did well when looking for information and did my best to find reliable sources that included information about my question.

In the future, I will organize my notes and information to ensure my paragraphs are organized, that the information is correct and that I have enough of it.