What is the difference between nuclear fission and fusion reactions? Discuss the type of nuclear reactions that are tapped in running nuclear power plants.

What is the difference between nuclear fission and fusion reactions? Discuss the type of nuclear reactions that are tapped in running nuclear power plants.

Approach:

  • Introduce the concept of both nuclear fission and fusion
  • Make a comparative analysis.
  • Explain its working in nuclear power plant.
  • Conclude Appropriately.
Model Answer :

Nuclear fission is the process in which a large nucleus splits into two smaller nuclei with the release of energy, while Nuclear fusion is a nuclear reaction in which two or more atomic nuclei collide and fuse together into a new nucleus with the release of tremendous amount of energy.

Key Differences:

  1. Nuclear fusion happens in natural forces like stars and sun, on the other hand, nuclear fission reaction never occurs in nature in normal cases.
  2. Fusion is a clean reaction where the bi-product produced is a stable atom while the bi-product of fission reaction is radioactive.
  3. For nuclear fission critical mass of the substance and neutrons with high speed is necessity, while, nuclear fusion requires high density and high temperature (like the inner core of sun).
  4. Fission is used in nuclear power reactors since it can be controlled, while fusion is not utilized to produce power since the reaction is not easily controlled.

Reactions in Nuclear power plant:

The reaction that happens in nuclear power plants is nuclear fission, which is a chain reaction. The commonly use nuclear fuels are isotopes uranium-235 and plutonium-239, because their atoms have relatively large nuclei that are easy to split, especially when hit by neutrons.

When a uranium-235 or plutonium-239 nucleus is hit by a neutron, the following happens:

  • The nucleus splits into two smaller nuclei, which are radioactive.
  • Two or three more neutrons are released.
  • Energy is released.

This resulting energy is then used to heat water in nuclear reactors and ultimately produces electricity. The additional neutrons released may also hit other uranium or plutonium nuclei and cause them to split and thus creating a chain reaction. The chain reaction in nuclear reactors is controlled to stop it going too fast.

Conclusion:

Nuclear energy has to play an important role in India’s energy scenario as it can be produced in large amount while being a clean energy source which greatly enhances energy independence and energy security. Creating Thorium reactors with the ability to use large domestically available thorium reserves would represent the next great leap in the use of nuclear energy.

Subjects : Science and Technology

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