Nuclear Energy

Nuclear energy is produced from fission, which splits the large atoms of heavy elements like uranium into smaller atoms, releasing enormous amounts of energy. Thirty U.S. states have nuclear power plants, and nuclear energy makes up around 20% of the U.S. electricity supply.

Basics

Nuclear reactors and cooling towers at the Susquehanna Steam Electric Station south of Shickshinny, Pennsylvania. Image Credit: Nuclear Regulatory Commission

Nuclear energy is released from the fission of heavy elements like uranium, a weakly radioactive metal found around the world. Fission splits large atoms into smaller atoms, releasing enormous amounts of energy. During electricity generation, the process of fission emits only water vapor but leaves behind spent fuel, which remains highly radioactive. Milling uranium, processing uranium into nuclear fuel, and operating nuclear power plants all create various types of nuclear waste, both low-level and high-level.   Read more

Frequently Asked Questions

Latest News

Nuclear power plant, Czech Republic
(2016-07-28)
July 26, 2016 The Council of State Governments’ (CGS) Southern and Midwestern Legislative Conferences hosted a webinar to explore nuclear waste storage solutions. This webinar, the second of a two-part series, highlighted actions the federal government and private sector are currently taking to...
Nuclear power plant, Czech Republic
(2016-07-28)
July 7, 2016 The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Environment and the Economy held a hearing led by Subcommittee Chairman John Shimkus (R-IL) and Subcommittee Ranking Member Paul Tonko (D-NY) to gather information in order to move forward with federal licensing of a nuclear waste...
Nuclear power plant, Czech Republic
(2016-01-15)
January 12, 2016 The House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology has voted to approve the Nuclear Energy Innovation Capabilities Act (H.R. 4084), legislation aimed at increasing nuclear research within the Department of Energy (DOE). The bill would authorize DOE national laboratories to...

Research Database Publications

AIPG logo
2009, American Institute of Professional Geologists (AIPG)
Nuclear energy is carbon-free and has minimal environmental impact and close to zero carbon footprint. Of all emission free sources of electric power, nuclear currently (2008) provides 73.6% toward world demand. In the United States approximately 20% of the electricity is generated by nuclear power...
Cover image of position statement; Image credit: SME
2013, Society for Mining, Metallurgy, and Exploration Inc. (SME)
Nuclear power currently produces almost 20% of the electricity in the US, with 100 operational nuclear power plants located in 30 states. Five new plants are currently under construction and another 25 are proposed. The commercial US nuclear industry contributes nearly $5 billion annually to the US...
Cover of B2179A; Source: USGS
2003, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
Uranium in its various chemical and physical forms plays roles in all parts of the nuclear fuel cycle, from the front end of its source from natural geologic resources, through transformation into fuel elements for the power plant cycle to produce electricity, and finally to the back-end cycle of...