Nuclear Power: The King of All Energies

Nuclear will give you, by far, the most energy for your money right now.

The best way to view this issue is in terms of what physicists call ‘energy density.’ That is, let’s measure the amount of energy stored in a given volume or mass of a certain substance or material.

Below is a table that I put together expressing the energy density of an array of materials in terms of megajoules of energy per kilogram. A megajoule – MJ – is 1 million joules, or approximately the kinetic energy of a 1-ton vehicle moving at 160 km/h (100 mph). The point is to show that if something has a high energy density, then less physical material will release the same amount of energy:

You can see the difference in energy density ranging over a variety of commonly available substances. Indeed, you can see why, for example, old wood-burning locomotives and steam engines gave way to coal-burning equipment. And the coal burners eventually yielded to diesel engines. You just get more energy from the same volume of material, which matters when you’re in the confined spaces of a moving piece of equipment.

It’s obvious, based on the raw numbers, that uranium – and by extension nuclear power – can supply energy with a density that’s orders of magnitude more than what you get from carbon-based fuels. With numbers so utterly lopsided like these, the world is going to find it impossible to support massive populations and deal with resource and energy demand without a global nuclear power industry.

Byron King
for The Daily Reckoning