Nitrogen Nodes: A New Source Of Energy?

The most common form of energy use today is fossil fuels such as coal, oil and natural gas. These are all finite resources with limited reserves. However, there are other forms of renewable energy sources like solar power or wind power which have no carbon emissions and do not require any land to grow the crops needed to produce electricity. In fact these renewable energies can even be created from waste materials.

One type of renewable energy source that has been gaining popularity lately is nuclear fusion. Fusion reactors generate large amounts of heat and release it into a small container called a “fusion fuel”. When the reaction occurs, the heat is converted to electrical energy. Nuclear fission reactors produce much less heat than fusion reactors but they still create some amount of energy when they split atoms together.

This kind of nuclear reactor uses uranium or plutonium as its main material because it’s relatively easy to obtain and inexpensive.

There are two types of nuclear reactors: those that use uranium or plutonium as their main material and those that use thorium. Thorium is a rare element found only in very small quantities in nature. It has the potential to be a new form of energy if it were harnessed properly. Unfortunately, there aren’t many places where thorium could be mined yet so mining companies need to look elsewhere for ways to make money.

One way is through nuclear waste disposal sites.

Although nuclear energy sounds appealing and shows much promise there are many risks involved. Most people are afraid of nuclear reactors because they don’t understand them. This is somewhat understandable considering what a disaster the Fukushima Nuclear Plant meltdown in Japan was in 2011 after an earthquake and a resulting tsunami disabled the plant’s emergency generators and backup power systems. The plant released radioactive material which contaminated the surrounding area, killed many livestock, and made nearby water, soil, and crops unsafe to eat for several miles around.

Nuclear energy is a very promising resource because it’s relatively inexpensive and produces large amounts of power with little maintenance required. It’s also important to remember that the earth receives an enormous amount of energy from the sun every single day. We may not be able to harness enough energy from the sun’s rays alone, but we can certainly store the surplus for later use. In fact, this is exactly what many solar farms do.

They store the energy in batteries for use at night. A solar farm can work wonders for a community. Not only does it produce clean, renewable energy but it also creates a lot of jobs and raises the value of properties within that area as well. It’s important to remember that a solar farm is not always located in an arid desert area like you might expect. There are many suitable locations for solar farms in our area as well.

The future of energy usage is certainly a complicated one. There are many different types of energy, not just the familiar ones like oil and natural gas. It’s important that we research ALL of the options available to us in the pursuit of cleaner, renewable energy sources. Although there are many risks involved in using nuclear energy, it would be a shame and a huge set-back to the future of our planet if we were too afraid to utilize the resource.

Many species on earth have gone extinct because they were too afraid to try something new and this happened thousands of years ago when they didn’t have the advantage of scientific progress that we do now. It is essential that we put aside fears and uncertainty and proceed with caution and intelligence when dealing with this issue. The benefits of clean energy from nuclear power plants would be too good to pass up.

Sources & references used in this article:

Endophytic colonization of plant roots by nitrogen-fixing bacteria by EC Cocking – Plant and soil, 2003 – Springer

Phylogenomics reveals multiple losses of nitrogen-fixing root nodule symbiosis by M Griesmann, Y Chang, X Liu, Y Song… – …, 2018 – science.sciencemag.org

A nodule-specific protein secretory pathway required for nitrogen-fixing symbiosis by D Wang, J Griffitts, C Starker, E Fedorova… – …, 2010 – science.sciencemag.org

Both plant and bacterial nitrate reductases contribute to nitric oxide production in Medicago truncatula nitrogen-fixing nodules by F Horchani, M Prévot, A Boscari, E Evangelisti… – Plant …, 2011 – Am Soc Plant Biol

Nitrogen-fixing nodules induced by Agrobacterium tumefaciens harboring Rhizobium phaseoli plasmids. by E Martínez, R Palacios, F Sanchez – Journal of bacteriology, 1987 – Am Soc Microbiol

Nitrogen-fixing nodules with Ensifer adhaerens harboring Rhizobium tropici symbiotic plasmids by MA Rogel, I Hernández-Lucas… – Applied and …, 2001 – Am Soc Microbiol

Ammonia and amino acid transport across symbiotic membranes in nitrogen-fixing legume nodules by DA Day, PS Poole, SD Tyerman… – Cellular and Molecular Life …, 2001 – Springer

Comparative genomics of the nonlegume Parasponia reveals insights into evolution of nitrogen-fixing rhizobium symbioses by R van Velzen, R Holmer, F Bu… – Proceedings of the …, 2018 – National Acad Sciences

Identification and expression analysis of miRNAs from nitrogen-fixing soybean nodules by JI Sprent – Water deficits and plant growth, 1976

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