GCSE Physics Revision: Nuclear Power: Advantages & Disadvantages

5th April 2017

GCSE Physics Revision

Nuclear Power - the good and the bad!

Key things to remember


Learning about nuclear power and fossil fuels is a vital component of the GCSE Physics syllabus and you must include these topics in your revision plans.


Fossil fuels are used to produce energy. They include:

  • Coal

  • Oil

  • Natural gas


These fuels are running out and we need to find alternatives to produce the power we consume on a daily basis.

The main nuclear fuels are uranium and plutonium and these are used to set of a chain reaction in nuclear power stations to produce heat and eventually electricity. The process for this is as follow:

  • In the boiler, water is turned into steam

  • The steam turns the turbine which converts heat into kinetic energy

  • This makes the generator work and produce electricity, converting kinetic to electrical energy


The advantages of using nuclear fuel are:

→ that they do not produce carbon dioxide or sulfur dioxide

→ 1 kg of nuclear fuel produces millions of times more energy than 1 kg of coal, so appears more efficient


The disadvantages of using nuclear fuel are:

→ they are non-renewable just like fossil fuels so they are exhaustible resources

→ the risk of serious problems in the event of an accident - large amounts of radioactive material could  be released into the environment

→ the nuclear waste produced stays active for thousands of years which means it must be stored safely which costs a lot of money

→ they have longer ‘start-up’ times than fossil fuel power stations


If you want to find out more about fossil fuels then take a look at our Fossil Fuels song which you can find here. However, if you want to find out more about nuclear energy, nuclear radiation and nuclear properties, see this series of GCSE Physics song.


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