The energy released during a nuclear reaction is called Nuclear Energy
Nuclear reactions are of two types
- Nuclear Fission
- Nuclear Fusion
Let’s study both of them
In Nuclear Fission,
Nucleus of a Heavy Atom like Uranium, Plutonium, Thorium
is bombarded with low-energy neutrons,
And it splits into lighter nuclei
This difference in mass between the original nucleus and the nuclei after fission gives rise to tremendous energy.
This energy is given by the Equation
E = mc 2
Where m is difference of mass
& c is Speed of Light
The fission of an atom of Uranium produces 10 million times the energy produced by burning Coal
We use Nuclear Fission to generate Electricity in a Nuclear Power Plant
In Nuclear Fusion, we join lighter lighter nucleus to make a heavier nucleus
It produces a tremendous amount of energy, and this same energy is the source of energy in Sun and Stars
The conditions required for fusion are extreme - millions of degrees of temperature and million of pascals of pressure.
What happens in a Nuclear Bomb?
In a Nuclear Bomb ,
- Fission of Uranium or Plutonium takes place at the Core
- This core is embedded in a substance containing Deuterium and Lithium
- When the bomb is detonated, fission takes place and the temperature of this substance is raised to 10 7 K in a few microseconds.
- This provides the conditions for fusion of lighter nuclei to take place,
- and due to Nuclear fusion, a devastating amount of energy is released
Nuclear Power Plants
Nuclear power plant is based on the idea of nuclear fission.
In a Nuclear Power Plant, nuclear fuel undergoes self-sustaining fission reaction,
which releases energy at a controlled rate
Advantages of Nuclear Energy
- It produces a large amount of energy for a small amount of fuel
- Once we put the nuclear fuel in the reactor, it can produce energy for 2 or 3 years continuously, we do not need to put fuel again and again
- No greenhouse gas is emitted while producing Nuclear Energy
Disadvantages of Nuclear Energy
- Major hazard of Nuclear Power Generation is the disposal of used fuels - used Uranium still decays into subatomic particles (i.e. radiations)
- Improper Nuclear Waste storage and disposal results in environmental contamination
- There is risk of leakage of Nuclear Radiation
- The Nuclear fuels - such as Uranium has limited availability
- Setting up a Nuclear Energy Power Plant has a high cost