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Question Video: Using Energy from Nuclear Radiation to Generate Electricity Science

Which of the following statements correctly describes how energy from nuclear radiation is used in electricity generation? [A] Energy from nuclear radiation is used to boil water. [B] Energy from nuclear radiation is used to produce electromagnetic waves.

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Video Transcript

Which of the following statements correctly describes how energy from nuclear radiation is used in electricity generation? (A) Energy from nuclear radiation is used to boil water. (B) Energy from nuclear radiation is used to produce electromagnetic waves.

Let us first recall what nuclear radiation is. When an unstable atomic nucleus decays, it releases nuclear radiation. Nuclear radiation consists of particles and electromagnetic waves. So, we see then that electromagnetic waves are produced by decaying nuclei. Is the production of electromagnetic waves what we mean by electricity generation though? No, electricity generation means producing electric current rather than producing electromagnetic waves.

Nuclear radiation can however be used to produce electricity. This is because the particles and waves that make up nuclear radiation can transfer energy. In nuclear power plants, the energy transferred by nuclear radiation becomes the thermal energy of water, causing the water to boil. When water boils, it becomes steam. Steam can be used to turn turbines and power an electric generator.

So, to produce electricity, nuclear radiation is used to boil water, not to produce electromagnetic waves, meaning the correct answer is option (A).

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