AP Environmental Science : Nuclear Energy

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for AP Environmental Science

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Example Questions

Example Question #1 : Energy Sources And Production

The most common nuclear fuel used to produce a fission chain reaction in a nuclear weapon is:

Possible Answers:

Plutonium-240

Uranium-235

Uranium-236

Plutonium-238

Uranium-238

Correct answer:

Uranium-235

Explanation:

U-235 differs from U-238 in that U-235 is able to produce a fission chain reaction. U-238 is the most common isotope of uranium, with the U-235 isotope constituting less than 1% of natural sources. Uranium enrichment is the process by which U-235 is separated out, and it is this product that is most commonly used to manufacture nuclear weapons. Pu-239 is produced from U-238 and can be used for nuclear weapons as well, but Pu-239 is not an answer choice.

Example Question #2 : Energy Sources And Production

Which of the following is a pressing issue with the production of nuclear energy?

Possible Answers:

Heavy air pollution

Prices for energy are too low for it to be profitable

Destruction as a result from frequent nuclear blasts

Various cancers afflicting local wildlife

Where to store spent fuel waste

Correct answer:

Where to store spent fuel waste

Explanation:

Producing nuclear energy is a lot cleaner than most people realize, and while it is expensive (but still profitable), it represents a legitimate option for producing cleaner energy. The main drawback is that the resulting "spent fuel" has to be secured and stored, because it cannot be safely disposed of without significant repercussions.

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