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Nuclear Reactions:. AN INTRODUCTION TO FISSION, FUSION, AND NUCLEAR POWER. Nuclear reactions deal with interactions between the nuclei of atoms The focus of this presentation are the processes of nuclear fission and nuclear fusion Both fission and fusion processes deal with matter and energy.

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slide1

Nuclear Reactions:

AN INTRODUCTION TO FISSION, FUSION, AND NUCLEAR POWER

slide2
Nuclear reactions deal with interactions between the nuclei of atoms

The focus of this presentation are the processes of nuclear fission and nuclear fusion

Both fission and fusion processes deal with matter and energy

Introduction

matter and energy
Matter and Energy

Previous studies have taught us that “matter and energy cannot be created nor destroyed”

We now need to understand that Matter and Energy are two forms of the same thing

e mc 2
Matter can be changed into Energy

Einstein’s formula above tells us how the change occurs

In the equation above:

E = Energy

m = Mass

c = Speed of Light (Universal Constant)

E = mc2
e mc 25
E = mc2

The equation may be read as follows:

Energy (E) is equal to Mass (m) multiplied by the Speed of Light (c) squared

This tells us that a small amount of mass can be converted into a very largeamount of energy because the speed of light (c) is an extremely large number

fission notes
Fission notes

Fission may be defined as the process of splitting an atomic nucleus into fission fragments

The fission fragments are generally in the form of smaller atomic nuclei and neutrons

Large amounts of energy are produced by the fission process

fission notes7
Fission notes

Fissile nuclei are generally heavy atoms with large numbers of nucleons

The nuclei of such heavy atoms are struck by neutrons initiating the fission process

Fission occurs due to electrostatic repulsion created by large numbers of protons within the nuclei of heavy atoms

slide8
A classic example of a fission reaction is that of U-235:

U-235 + 1 Neutron

2 Neutrons + Kr-92 + Ba-142 + Energy

In this example, a stray neutron strikes an atom of U-235. It absorbs the neutron and becomes an unstable atom of U-236. It then undergoes fission. Notice that more neutrons are released in the reaction. These neutrons can strike other U-235 atoms to initiate their fission.

Fission notes

fission notes9
Fission notes

The fission process is a natural one. A French researcher found a natural uranium reactor in Gabon, West Africa; it has been estimated to be over 2 billion years old

Fission produces large amounts of heat energy and it is this heat that is captured by nuclear power plants to produce electricity

slide10
Fusion is a nuclear reaction whereby two light atomic nuclei fuse or combine to form a single larger, heavier nucleus

The fusion process generates tremendous amounts of energy; refer back to Einstein’s equation

For fusion to occur, a large amount of energy is needed to overcome the electrical charges of the nuclei and fuse them together

Fusion notes

fusion notes
Fusion notes

Fusion reactions do not occur naturally on our planet but are the principal type of reaction found in stars

The large masses, densities, and high temperatures of stars provide the initial energies needed to fuel fusion reactions

The sun fuses hydrogen atoms to produce helium, subatomic particles, and vast amounts of energy

slide12
Mass and Energy are two forms of the same thing; neither can be created nor destroyed but mass can be converted into energy (E = mc2)

Fission is a nuclear reaction in which a heavy atomic nucleus is split into lighter atomic nuclei

Fusion is a nuclear reaction in which 2 light atomic nuclei are combined into a single, heavier atomic nucleus

Review notes

nuclear reaction notes
Nuclear reaction notes

Chain reaction occurs when a Uranium atom splits

Different reactions

Atomic Bomb in a split second

Nuclear Power Reactor more controlled, cannot explode like a bomb

history of nuclear power
History of nuclear power

1938– Scientists study Uranium nucleus

1941 – Manhattan Project begins

1942 – Controlled nuclear chain reaction

1945 – U.S. uses two atomic bombs on Japan

1949 – Soviets develop atomic bomb

1952 – U.S. tests hydrogen bomb

1955 – First U.S. nuclear submarine

atoms for peace
“Atoms for Peace”

Program to justify nuclear technology

Proposals for power, canal-building, exports

First commercial power plant, England 1956

economic advantages notes
The energy in one pound of highly enriched Uranium is comparable to that of one million gallons of gasoline.

One million times as much energy in one pound of Uranium as in one pound of coal.

Economic advantagesnotes
emissions free notes
Emissions Free notes

Nuclear energy annually prevents

5.1 million tons of sulfur

2.4 million tons of nitrogen oxide

164 metric tons of carbon

Nuclear often pitted against fossil fuels

Some coal contains radioactivity

Nuclear plants have released low-level radiation

nuclear power around the globe
Nuclear power around the globe

17% of world’s electricity from nuclear power

U.S. about 20% (2nd largest source)

431 nuclear plants in 31 countries

103 of them in the U.S.

Built none since 1970s (Wisconsin as leader).

U.S. firms have exported nukes.

Push from Bush/Cheney for new nukes.

nuclear reactor process
Nuclear Reactor Process

3% enriched Uranium pellets formed into rods, which are formed into bundles

Bundles submerged in water coolant inside pressure vessel, with control rods.

Bundles must be SUPERCRITICAL; will overheat and melt if no control rods.Reaction converts water to steam, which powers steam turbine

nuclear reactor structure
Nuclear Reactor Structure

Reactor’s pressure vessel typically housed in 8” of steel

36” concrete shielding

45” steel reinforced concrete

back end radioactive waste
Back end: Radioactive waste

Low-level wastes in commercial facilities

Spent fuel in pools or “dry casks” by plants

Nuclear lab wastes

Hanford wastes leaked radiation into Columbia River

High-level underground repository

Yucca Mountain in Nevada to 2037

Wolf River Batholith in Wisconsin after 2037?

Risks of cracks in bedrock, water seepage

radioactive waste recycling
Radioactive Waste Recycling

Disposal of radioactive waste from nuclear power plants and weapons facilities by recycling it into household products.

In 1996, 15,000 tons of metal were received by the Association of Radioactive Metal Recyclers . Much was recycled into products without consumer knowledge.

Depleted Uranium munitions for military.

summary notes
Nuclear energy has no typical pollutants or greenhouse gasses

Nuclear waste contains high levels of radioactive waste, which are active for hundreds of thousands of years.

The controversy around nuclear energy stems from all parts of the nuclear chain.

Summary notes