Estamos a punto de encontrar la fuerza fuerte

HAMBURGO – Hace unos sesenta años, el descubrimiento de la energía nuclear prometía ser la solución definitiva a los problemas de energía del mundo. Actualmente, esa promesa sigue sin cumplirse. El desarrollo de la tecnología nuclear se ha estancado y las plantas de energía nuclear siguen usando la tecnología de hace medio siglo.

La energía nuclear se produce mediante procesos de desintegración de elementos pesados como el uranio o el torio. Los núcleos de sus átomos normalmente se desintegran en dos núcleos más pequeños y en un par de neutrones liberando muchas millones de veces más energía que cualquier otro proceso químico. Los elementos pesados contienen tanta energía porque almacenaron una fracción de la energía liberada por la explosión de la supernova que creó la Tierra y el sistema solar hace unos cinco mil millones de años.

Las plantas de energía actuales usan como combustible un tipo especial de uranio, el U-235, que se consume en procesos en cadena en los que los neutrones de una descomposición nuclear inducen la siguiente descomposición. Ni el uranio-238, que es más o menos 100 veces más abundante que el u-235, ni el torio, que es incluso más accesible, se usan para producir energía a gran escala.

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