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Nuclear power plants provide about 17 percent of the worlds electricity Some countries depend more on nuclear power for electricity than others In France for instance about 75 percent of the electricity is generated from nuclear power according to the International Atomic Energy Agency In the United States nuclear power supplies about 15 percent of the electricity overall but some states get more power from nuclear plants than others There are more than 400 nuclear power plants around the world with more than 100 in the United States Uranium is a fairly common element on Earth and was incorporated into the planet during the planets formation Uranium is originally formed in stars Old stars explode and the dust from these shattered stars aggregated together to form our planet Uranium-238 has an extremely long half-life 45 billion years and therefore is still present in fairly large quantities U-238 makes up 99 percent of the uranium on the planet Uranium-235 makes up about 07 percent of the remaining uranium found naturally while uranium-234 is even more rare and is formed by the decay of uranium-238 Uranium-238 goes through many stages or alpha and beta decay to form a stable isotope of lead and U-234 is one link in that chain Uranium-235 has an interesting property that makes it useful for both nuclear power production and for production U-235 decays naturally just as U-238 does by alpha radiation U-235 also undergoes spontaneous fission a small percentage of the time However U-235 is one of the few materials that can undergo induced fission If a free neutron runs into a U-235 nucleus the nucleus will absorb the neutron without hesitation become unstable and split immediately To build a nuclear reactor what you need is some mildly enriched uranium Typically the uranium is formed into pellets with approximately the same diameter as a dime and a length of an inch or so The pellets are arranged into long rods and
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