Nuclear Energy: Lise Meithner and Otto Frisch

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Fission reactors were the beginning of nuclear reactors, developed from the discovery of atoms and the discovery made by Lise Meitner and Otto Frisch that bombarding Uranium atoms with neutrons causes the atom to split while simultaneously giving off energy (“History of Nuclear Energy,” n.d.). This has led to the creation of the fission reactor. Fission reactors work using chain reactions controlled by the control rods. The energy is given off by Uranium atoms splitting which cause water in another section to turn into steam and power a turbine that is connected to a generator that changes the heat energy to usable electricity, as shown in the Figure below. Serway and Jewett. (2004). Fission reactors work well and don’t have many minor problems, but when a problem occurs, it can cause a disaster such as the Chernobyl disaster of April 26, 1986 where a series of explosions occurred (“Fukushima Accident”, 2013) due to the fuel rods which caused a power surge, and the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster where the cooling system was disabled from an earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011 and causing a meltdown that according to the World Nuclear Association (2013), then gave off nuclear radiation for the next 4-6 years (Para. 2). Fission reactors have inherent safety issues which are a main reason that fusion is being researched currently. Although a fusion reactor has yet to be attempted because of the temperatures of 15 million to 100 million that it can reach, but the reactor will theoretically be powered by hydrogen plasma. Stars confine plasma naturally using gravity, but is impractical for domestic use, so research is being done on magnetic confinement which uses a donut-shaped reactors called a tokamak to contain the plasm... ... middle of paper ... ...Energy (2013, October 22) Retrieved from http://www.epa.gov/cleanenergy/energy-and-you/affect/nuclear.html Siegel, RP. (2012, July 12), Pros and Cons of Fusion Power. Retrieved from http://www.triplepundit.com/2012/07/fusion-power-pros-cons/ Uranium Mining Overview, (2012, May), retrieved from http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/Nuclear-Fuel-Cycle/Mining-of-Uranium/Uranium-Mining-Overview/ Picture References Serway and Jewett. (2004). Labeled Fission Reactor. [labeled diagram] Retrieved from http://facstaff.cbu.edu/~jvarrian/252/reactor.html Farrel, M. (2009, December 10). Labeled Fusion Reactor. [labeled diagram]. Retrieved from http://new.math.uiuc.edu/math198/MA198-2009/farrell1/ City Collegiate (2011). Fission Chain Reaction. [labeled diagram] Retrieved from http://www.citycollegiate.com/nuclear_physicsXb.htm

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