What is Nuclear Energy?
Nuclear power is generated by splitting atoms to release the energy held at the core, or nucleus, of those atoms. This process, nuclear fission, generates heat that is directed to a cooling agent—usually water. The resulting steam spins a turbine connected to a generator, producing electricity.
About 450 nuclear reactors provide about 11 percent of the world's electricity. The countries generating the most nuclear power are, in order, the United States, France, China, Russia, and South Korea.
The most common fuel for nuclear power is uranium, an abundant metal found throughout the world. Mined uranium is processed into U-235, an enriched version used as fuel in nuclear reactors because its atoms can be split apart easily.
In a nuclear reactor, neutrons—subatomic