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Nuclear Energy

Satisfactory Essays
Nuclear energy by definition is the energy consumed or produced in modifying the composition of the atomic nucleus. Nuclear energy is used for things such as atomic bombs, hydrogen bombs and other nuclear weapons. Nuclear energy can also be used for powering electricity-generating plants all over the world.
There are many arguments for and against nuclear power. Nuclear power is an inexpensive clean source of power. Others feel that because of the hazardous radiation emitted during the producing of the power and the radioactivity of the material used that nuclear power is not as good as the alternatives which are fossil fuels and solar power.(Hansen, 1993)

If matter changes state or composition, it is accompanied by the production of energy.
Processes such as combustion produce energy by rearranging the atoms or molecules of that substance.(Brain, 1998) An example of this is the combustion of methane (natural gas)

CH(4) + 2O(2) = CO(2) + 2H(2)O + energy

In this example the amount of energy released is eight electron volts or 8 eV. The electron volt unit is the unit used by nuclear physicists. The electron volt represents the gain in kinetic energy when an electron is accelerated through a potential drop of one volt.(Brain, 1998)

The most common nuclear reaction is nuclear fission. Nuclear fission is the process in which a heavy nucleus combines with a neutron and separates the heavy nucleus into two lighter nuclei.(Roy, 1993) The most typical fission reaction is that of uranium-235 it is as follows:

92 U235 + 1 neutron = 38 Sr96 + 54 XE138 + 2 neutrons + energy

Another type of nuclear reaction is nuclear fusion.
Nuclear fusion occurs when two light elements combine to form a heavier atom.(Grisham, 1993)
An example of this is:

1 H(2) + 1 H(3) = 2 He(4) +1 neutron + energy

Nuclear Fission

Nuclear fission is a complex process, but many products are formed during this process. Not only the two nuclei but also neutrons, beta particles, neutrinos and gamma rays are created during the fission process.(Roy, 1993) There are more than fifty different ways a nucleus may undergo fission.
Some of the ways are much more common than others. During the fission process the nucleus breaks into to unequal parts, one lighter fragment and a heavier fragment. These nuclei are formed with excess energy that they do not usually have in their ground state they must lose the extra energy.
They release this extra energy in the form of gamma radiation or sometimes neutron emission.
The primary fragments are rich in neutrons and are radioactive. Uranium-235 which contains 92 protons and 143 neutrons are more likely to under go fission when bombarded by low-energy neutrons.(Hansen, 1993)

Nuclear Fission Used in Bombs

The fission process was discovered in the late
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