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Obama Wants More Nuclear Power. Does that Make Sense?

The president said he wanted to support nuclear power, but no new nuclear power plants have come online in years. What's holding us back?


Clean energy advocates may have noticed that President Obama didn't just tout solar and wind in this week's State of the Union address; he also encouraged the construction of new natural gas, clean coal, and nuclear power sites. Natural gas and clean coal aren't all that clean (that's for another column), but nuclear may be a decent option. Should we be paying more attention to it?

Nuclear plants produce power by grabbing the energy released from the nucleus of an atom via nuclear fission, a process that splits atoms into at least two nuclei and creates byproducs of heat and gamma radiation (radiation made out of high-energy photons). Fission is triggered by the absorption of a neutron by a fissile atomic nucleus like uranium or plutonium. At the most basic level, the heat generated from this nuclear reactor is used to boil water, which turns a turbine and creates energy.

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What to Do When the Government Takes Away Your Lightbulbs CFLs, LEDs, and Other Non-Lightbulb Options

The U.S. government is set to ban incandescent bulbs shortly. Here are some tips on what you can use to cheaply and safely replace them with.


Look up at the ceiling. What kind of bulb is being used to illuminate the room? Chances are you see an aging incandescent, the classic light bulb we all know. But if you live in the European Union, Australia, the United States, or any other number of countries set to phase out traditional light bulbs, you will soon be seeing a lot more compact fluorescent bulbs or light-emitting diodes. Although they are cheap, CFLsare filled with mercury and often emit harsh lighting, and LEDs are still on the pricey side. So what's a concerned, light-savvy consumer to do? The short answer: Hang tight.

First, a bit of history. Incandescent bulbs (Thomas Edison's bulb) generate light by heating a metal filament wire to a high temperature until the bulb glows. The problem is that there is a low ratio of visible light produced versus heat loss when compared to efficient alternatives like CFLs and LEDs. And in a world that is increasingly concerned with saving energy, that inefficiency won't do. Brazil, Venezuela, the European Union, and Australia are all in the midst of phasing out incandescent bulbs; Argentina, Russia, Canada, Malaysia, and the United States all plan to phase out the bulbs in the next few years.

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Are Hydrogen Cars Better than Electric Ones? Sure, If You Can Find a Place to Fill it Up

Don't expect hydrogen vehicles to generate the same excitement as EVs. The charging infrastructure just isn't there.

Perhaps you've noticed the glut of hybrid and electric vehicles set to enter the market in the next few monthsthe Nissan Leaf, Chevrolet Volt, and Ford Focus Electric are just some the EVs coming down the pipeline. Electric vehicles get the majority of the attention from car companies looking to build next-generation vehicles. It makes sense; major automakers have been working on hybrids, all-electric vehicles, and charging stations for years. But there's a dark horse in the race to switch to alternative fuels—a fuel that allows drivers to fill up in a matter of minutes for the same price as gasoline: hydrogen power. Does it stand a chance?

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Cheap Ways to Get Solar Panels for Your House

Solar panels are a good investment, but the start-up costs can be prohibitive. Here are some ways to get your solar panels for free.

Solar panels are a good investment, but the start-up costs can be prohibitive. Here are some ways to get your solar panels for free.

So you want to supplement—or perhaps even replace—your electrical grid power consumption with rooftop solar panels, but you don't want to pay thousands of dollars for a solar panel kit. There are, fortunately, a number of cheaper solar power options available—if you know where to look.

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