Coal Energy vs. Nuclear Energy

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Difference between Coal Energy and Nuclear Energy

We are rapidly depleting our energy resources and striving hard to find new and cheaper alternatives. Currently we are dependent on fossil fuels to fulfill our energy demands such as petroleum, natural gas and coal. We can generate energy from coal for industrial use. Coal is found in four forms, which are: ignite, bituminous, anthracite and graphite. Each type of coal is specified according to its moisture content, volatile components and carbon percentage. As fossil fuels are non-renewable energy source, scientists are switching to nuclear energy. It is produced as a result of splitting or fusion of atomic nuclei. Although hazards and advantages of nuclear energy are debatable but still no one can deny its potential as future energy source.

Coal Energy
Nuclear Energy

Fuel Sources

Coal has been used in smelting of iron ores and in many industries as primary fuel source. Nowadays scientists are producing electricity with coal. Humans are familiar with its use and potential over the past many centuries. Coal was used in bakeries and to run train engines. On the other hand, nuclear energy is a new 21st century energy resource. We can generate electricity for our cities and towns from a nuclear reactor. The main advantage of nuclear reaction is the immense amount of energy produced because of a nuclear fission reaction.


Both nuclear and coal energy has its advantages and disadvantages. If we use coal as our main energy source, it will increase carbon dioxide levels in our atmosphere. Coal produces energy in the form of heat as a result of a combustion reaction. Excessive burning of coal will cause green house effect, which leads to global warming. There are generally traces of lead and arsenic present in coal and its burning causes air pollution.

A nuclear reactor uses enriched uranium as fuel to start a nuclear fission reaction. Uranium is a radioactive substance and emits radiation, which are very dangerous and can cause gene mutations and cancers.

Future of Energy

Coal reservoirs are formed during million of years. Although we can make charcoal artificially, we can not produce it as quickly as we are consuming it. Therefore, we can not count on coal as our future energy source. Contrary to coal, nuclear energy is far more promising as future fuel. Scientists are working hard to make it safer and limit the hazards involve. I think in near future we will be able to find safer nuclear dump sites.

Similarities and Differences

Fossils fuels such as coal, gas and oil are rapidly depleting and scientists are looking for better and safer alternatives.

  • Although we can manufacture coal artificially, it will require millions of trees to be cultivated and then cut down as a raw material.
  • Combustion of coal can lead to global warming and ultimately to melting of glaciers, etc.
  • Nuclear energy can be used as a future energy source as enormous amount of energy is produced as a product of nuclear fission reactions.
  • A major problem related to nuclear power is the dumping of nuclear waste materials, but with every passing day, scientists are looking for ways to make this process less lethal to all life on Earth.

James Hansen Talks about Coal Energy


David Suzuki Talks about Nuclear Energy


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