7 Best Books on Nuclear Energy

Nuclear energy is the use of nuclear reactions to produce electricity. Nuclear energy can be gained from nuclear fission, nuclear decay, and nuclear fusion reactions. At present, the vast majority of electricity from nuclear power is produced by the nuclear fission of uranium and plutonium in nuclear power plants. Nuclear decay processes are used in niche applications such as radioisotope thermoelectric generators in some space probes such as Voyager 2. Generating electricity from fusion power remains the focus of international research. As you are curious about this subject, you are most likely looking for the best books on nuclear energy appearing below.

Best Books on Nuclear Energy

Book Name & Author Image Rating Price
Nuclear Energy: An Introduction to the Concepts, Systems, and Applications of Nuclear Processes by Raymond Murray & Keith E. Holbert Ph.D. 9.0 View on Amazon
Nuclear Energy: What Everyone Needs to Know by Charles D. Ferguson 9.2 View on Amazon
Atomic Awakening: A New Look At The History And Future Of Nuclear Power by James Mahaffey 9.4 View on Amazon
Seeing the Light: The Case for Nuclear Power in the 21st Century by Scott L. Montgomery & Thomas Graham Jr 9.0 View on Amazon
Atomic Adventures: Secret Islands, Forgotten N-Rays, and Isotopic Murder: A Journey into the Wild World of Nuclear Science by James Mahaffey 9.0 View on Amazon
Atoms and Ashes: A Global History of Nuclear Disasters by Serhii Plokhy 9.0 View on Amazon
Atomic America: How a Deadly Explosion and a Feared Admiral Changed the Course of Nuclear History by Todd Tucker 9.2 View on Amazon

1. Nuclear Energy: An Introduction to the Concepts, Systems, and Applications of Nuclear Processes

The essential book Nuclear Energy: An Introduction to the Concepts, Systems and Applications of Nuclear Processes provides essential information on introductory nuclear physics, systems, and the applications of nuclear energy. It comprehensively covers Basic Concepts, Radiation and Its Uses, and Nuclear Power, providing students with a broad view of nuclear energy and science in a fast-paced format that features updated.

The book comes with timely content on topics of new and growing importance to current and future nuclear professionals such as tritium-powered betavoltaic integrated circuit chips, the modulation of radioactive decay constant due to solar activity, Monte Carlo radiation transport calculations, and accelerator-driven systems.

This book is an essential resource for any first course on nuclear energy and systems.

Nuclear Energy is one of the most popular texts ever published on basic nuclear physics, systems, and applications of nuclear energy. This newest edition continues the tradition of offering a holistic treatment of everything the undergraduate engineering student needs to know in a clear and accessible way. The book presents a comprehensive overview of radioactivity, radiation protection, nuclear reactors, waste disposal, and nuclear medicine.

The first part of the book addresses Basic Concepts, Nuclear Power and Radiation and Its Uses. The second part has been updated with current developments, including a new section on reactor safety and security (with a discussion of the Fukushima Daiichi accident). Moreover, it has updated information on naval and space propulsion; radioactive waste storage, transportation, and disposal. Part Three features new content on the biological effects of radiation, radiation standards, and radiation detection.

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2. Nuclear Energy: What Everyone Needs to Know

The commercial use of nuclear energy has been controversial for decades as it is perceived as a cheap and plentiful source of power. Worries about the dangers that nuclear plants and their radioactive waste posed to nearby communities grew over time, and plant construction in the United States virtually died after the early 1980s. The 1986 disaster at Chornobyl only reinforced nuclear power’s negative image.

Yet in the decade prior to the Japanese nuclear crisis of 2011, sentiment about nuclear power underwent a marked change. The alarming acceleration of global warming due to the burning of fossil fuels and concern about dependence on foreign fuel has led policymakers, climate scientists, and energy experts to look once again at nuclear power as a source of energy.

Charles D. Ferguson provides an authoritative account of the key facts about nuclear energy. You will get factual answers to the following questions.

What is the origin of nuclear energy?

What countries use commercial nuclear power, and how much electricity do they obtain from it?

How can future nuclear power plants be made safer? What can countries do to protect their nuclear facilities from military attacks?

How hazardous is radioactive waste?

Is nuclear energy a renewable energy source?

Featuring a discussion of the recent nuclear crisis in Japan and its ramifications, Ferguson addresses these questions and more in Nuclear Energy: What Everyone Needs to Know®, a book that is essential for anyone looking to learn more about this important issue.

This book is an excellent primer on nuclear power. It discusses in an accessible manner the pros and cons of nuclear power generation. If you are looking to go more into science and technology from a physical perspective this isn’t your book as there aren’t any equations that can be found in a textbook on this subject. This book is for the generalist who may have questions on this topic.

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3. Atomic Awakening: A New Look At The History And Future Of Nuclear Power

The American public’s introduction to nuclear technology was manifested in destruction and death. With Hiroshima and the Cold War still ringing in our ears, our perception of all things nuclear is seen through the lens of weapons development. Nuclear power is full of mind-bending theories, deep secrets, and the misdirection of public consciousness, some deliberate, some accidental. The result of this fixation on bombs and fallout is that the development of a non-polluting, renewable energy source stands frozen in time.

Outlining nuclear energy’s discovery and applications throughout history, Mahaffey’s brilliant and accessible book is essential to understanding the astounding phenomenon of nuclear power in an age where renewable energy and climate change have become the defining concerns of the twenty-first century.

Atomic Awakening offers an essential look at nuclear power and how it will overcome its negative connotations to shape our century. The world of science education in America would be an altogether different one if its textbooks were as readable as James Mahaffey’s latest on nuclear technology.

In fact, it provides the most complete history of nuclear power, nuclear weapons, and nuclear energy development. The book aids in the understanding of how atomic science is far from the spawn of a wicked weapons program and how nuclear power will shape the 21st century, in which renewable energy and climate change have become defining concerns.

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4. Seeing the Light: The Case for Nuclear Power in the 21st Century

Nuclear power is not an option for the future but an absolute necessity. Global threats of climate change and lethal air pollution, killing millions each year, make it clear that nuclear and renewable energy must work together, as non-carbon sources of energy. Fortunately, a new era of growth in this energy source is underway in developing nations, though not yet in the West. Seeing the Light is the first book to clarify these realities and discuss their implications for the coming decades.

Readers will learn how, why, and where the new nuclear era is happening, what new technologies are involved, and what this means for preventing the proliferation of weapons. This book is the best work available for becoming fully informed about this key subject, for students, the general public, and anyone interested in the future of energy production, and, thus, the future of humanity on planet Earth.

This is an accessible and well-written book that could not be more timely. Much current campaigning gives the impression that renewable sources are the full answer to the world’s need for climate-safe energy. The balanced discussion in this book shows us the great environmental benefit of today’s nuclear power and the potential for development and expanded use.

It merits broad reading by anyone interested in the future of energy generation, from the general public to students and scientists to policymakers. This vitally important book counters nuclear fear with deep knowledge and honest goodwill. It is by far the best book on the subject yet written.

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5. Atomic Adventures: Secret Islands, Forgotten N-Rays, and Isotopic Murder: A Journey into the Wild World of Nuclear Science

Whether you are a scientist or a poet, pro-nuclear energy or staunch opponent, conspiracy theorist or pragmatist, James Mahaffey’s books have served to open up the world of nuclear science like never before. With clear explanations of some of the most complex scientific endeavors in history, Mahaffey’s new book looks back at the atom’s wild, secretive past and then toward its potentially bright future.

Mahaffey unearths lost reactors on far-flung Pacific islands and trees that were exposed to active fission that changed gender or bloomed in the dead of winter. He explains why we have nuclear submarines but not nuclear aircraft and why cold fusion doesn’t exist. And who knew that radiation counting was once a fashionable trend?

Though parts of the nuclear history might seem like a fiction mash-up, where cowboys somehow got a hold of a reactor, Mahaffey’s vivid prose holds the reader in the thrall of the infectious energy of scientific curiosity and ingenuity that may one day hold the key to solving our energy crisis or sending us to Mars.

He sets out to teach his readers about the science behind the stories. In a culture fixated on accomplishment, it’s important to talk about the things that didn’t work. What Atomic Adventures does well is to celebrate the full arc of science: the good, the bad, and the quirky.

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6. Atoms and Ashes: A Global History of Nuclear Disasters

Almost 145,000 Americans fled their homes in and around Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, in late March 1979, hoping to save themselves from an invisible enemy: radiation. The reactor at the nearby Three Mile Island nuclear power plant had gone into partial meltdown, and scientists feared an explosion that could spread radiation throughout the eastern United States. Thankfully, the explosion never took place but the accident left deep scars in the American psyche, all but ending the nation’s love affair with nuclear power.

In Atoms and Ashes, Serhii Plokhy recounts the dramatic history of Three Mile Island and five more accidents that have dogged the nuclear industry in its military and civil incarnations: the disastrous fallout caused by the testing of the hydrogen bomb in the Bikini Atoll in 1954.

The Kyshtym nuclear disaster in the USSR, which polluted a good part of the Urals; the Windscale fire, the worst nuclear accident in the UK’s history; back to the USSR with Chornobyl, the result of a flawed reactor design leading to the exodus of 350,000 people; and, most recently, Fukushima in Japan, triggered by an earthquake and a tsunami, a disaster on a par with Chornobyl and whose clean-up will not take place in our lifetime.

Through the stories of these six terrifying incidents, Plokhy explores the risks of nuclear power, both for military and peaceful purposes, while offering a vivid account of how individuals and governments make decisions under extraordinary circumstances. Today, there are 440 nuclear reactors operating throughout the world, with nuclear power providing 10 percent of global electricity. Yet as the world seeks to reduce carbon emissions to combat climate change, the question arises: Just how safe is nuclear energy?

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7. Atomic America: How a Deadly Explosion and a Feared Admiral Changed the Course of Nuclear History

On January 3, 1961, nuclear reactor SL-1 exploded in rural Idaho, spreading radioactive contamination over thousands of acres and killing three men. The army blamed “human error” and a sordid love triangle. Though overshadowed by Three Mile Island, SL-1 remains the only fatal nuclear reactor incident in American history.

Todd Tucker, who first heard the rumors about the Idaho Falls explosion as a trainee in the navy’s nuclear program, suspected there was more to the accident than rumors suggested. Poring over hundreds of pages of primary sources and interviewing survivors revealed that the army and its contractors had deliberately obscured the true cause of the accident, which resulted from poor engineering as much as uncontrolled passions.

The National Reactor Testing Station, where the meltdown occurred, had been a proving ground where engineers, generals, and admirals attempted to realize the Atomic Age dream of unlimited power amid the frantic race for nuclear power between the army, the navy, and the air force.

The fruit of those ambitious plans included that of the nation’s unofficial nuclear patriarch, Admiral Rickover, whose “true submarine,” the USS Nautilus, would forever change naval warfare. But with the meltdown in Idaho came the end of the army’s program and the beginning of the navy’s long-standing monopoly on military nuclear power. Atomic America provides a fast-paced narrative history, advocating caution and accountability in harnessing nuclear energy.

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Best Books on Nuclear Physics

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