Thursday, 1 March 2012

How Nuclear Energy is Produced?

Nuclear energy is produced when the structure of nuclei of an atom changes. These changes are the nuclear reaction. The energy released from these changes is called the nuclear energy or atomic energy. There are two methods of producing nuclear energy:
  • naturally 
    • Produced by the sun and stars producing heat and light by nuclear reaction.
  • man-made operations
    • Produced by a machine called nuclear reactor which can be found in the power plants.
The nuclear energy produced is to supply electricity to many cities. Nuclear energy is produced in two different ways: 
  • Fission 
    • Happens when one large uranium nucleus combined with one neutron.  
    • In a highly excited state, the nucleus split into two lighter nuclei.
    • Emits neutrons and Gamma rays and produces energy. 
Nuclear Fission
  • Fusion 
    • When two small uranium nuclei are fused under a very high temperature condition and release a large amount of energy. 
    • The nuclei used by the sun and in experiments on earth are two isotopes of hydrogen called deuterium and tritium. 
    • Deuterium  can be easily extracted from seawater, where 1 in 6500 hydrogen atom is deuterium.
    • Tritium can be bred from lithium, which is abundant in the earth's crust.
Nuclei used in Fusion

Nuclear Fission

Presently, nuclear energy that we are using in the power plants is produced by nuclear fission. However, nuclear fusion indeed looks like it may be the future power source!

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