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).