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Fission and Fusion (Open Book paper 2008)

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Discuss, with the use of examples, the main differences between ?- and �-decay and explain how nuclear fission reactions differ from natural radioactive decay. The differences between alpha and beta decay ?-decay �-decay Emitted particle Helium-4 nucleus, 2 protons and 2 neutrons, +2 charge, 4 amu [1] Electron (made from a neutron dividing into an electron and a proton), -1 charge, 0.00055 amu [1] Most common in Heavier elements (atomic number > 83) [1] Elements with a greater ratio of neutrons to protons (generally elements lighter than lead, atomic number < 82) [2] Example equations [3] 224Ra --> 220Rn + 4He 231Po --> 227Ac + 4He 238U --> 234Th + 4He 225Rn --> 225Ac + 0e- 40K --> 40Ca + 0e- 14C --> 14N + 0e- Table 1 - the differences between alpha and beta decay Sources [1], [2], [3] The differences between nuclear fission and natural radioactive decay In natural radioactive decay, an unstable isotope of an element decays into a different atom and an emission (alpha/beta particle, or energy in the case of gamma/? radiation). This is a spontaneous natural process with a random rate. Nuclear fission is also the splitting of a nucleus into two smaller parts, but each of these is an element in itself. ...read more.


o The control rods absorb neutrons, taking them out of the chain reaction. The rods can be moved to different depths to absorb different amounts of neutrons, controlling the rate of reaction. If they are fully inserted, all of the neutrons are absorbed and the reactor shuts down. The reactor is cooled by passing fluids (often molten sodium metal or carbon dioxide) through pipes around the reactor. This then boils water to form steam, which is used to turn turbines, generating electricity. Advantages Disadvantages Relatively little fuel is needed Possibility of nuclear meltdown from uncontrolled reaction Relatively inexpensive once plant is built Waste products can be used to manufacture weapons Fuel is available around the world High initial cost because plant requires containment safeguards Not believed to contribute to global warming Storage of radioactive waste with long half-life Table 2 - advantages and disadvantages of fission as an electricity source Source [12] Fusion Image 4 - deuterium-tritium fusion reaction Source [13] Under the right conditions (see section 4), the repellent forces between the positive nuclei are overcome, and the strong nuclear forces fuse the nuclei together. For experimental electricity production on Earth, the reaction chosen by scientists is the one shown in image 4 - deuterium (hydrogen-2) ...read more.


http://www.britannica.com/eb/article-81189/transuranium-element#622175.hook [3] Lise Meitner, Radiochemist, physicist and co-discoverer of nuclear fission, Gordon Woods, Chemistry Review, Volume 16, Number 1, September 2006. Box 1 (page 3) and page 4. [4] Disintegration of Uranium by Neutrons: a New Type of Nuclear Reaction, Nature - Physics Portal. 24/03/08 http://www.nature.com/physics/looking-back/meitner/index.html [5] Nuclear Fission, Thinkquest. 30/03/08 http://library.thinkquest.org/3471/fission_body.html [6] Fusion, Powering the Future? Chris Warrick, Chemistry Review, Volume 16, Number 1, September 2006. Box 1 (page 9). [7] A Moving Model of the Beginning of the Universe, NASA. Page 5. 24/03/08 http://imagine.gsfc.nasa.gov/docs/teachers/elements/imagine/BigBang/student_handout.pdf [8] Adapted from Primordial Nucleosynthesis, OpenLearn LabSpace. 24/03/08 http://labspace.open.ac.uk/mod/resource/view.php?id=167939 [9] Oxford Illustrated Science Encyclopaedia. 24/03/08 http://fds.oup.com/www.oup.co.uk/images/oxed/children/yoes/atoms/fission.jpg [10] Why is energy released during a fission reaction? MadSci Network. 24/03/08 http://www.madsci.org/posts/archives/2006-08/1154618198.Ph.r.html [11] Lise Meitner, Radiochemist, physicist and co-discoverer of nuclear fission, Gordon Woods, Chemistry Review, Volume 16, Number 1, September 2006. Box 2 (page 6). [12] Energy Matters: Advantages and Disadvantages, Thinkquest. 24/03/08. http://library.thinkquest.org/20331/types/fission/advant.html [13] Nuclear Fusion, Splung Physics. 24/03/08. http://www.splung.com/content/sid/5/page/fusion [14] Fusion, Powering the Future? Chris Warrick, Chemistry Review, Volume 16, Number 1, September 2006. Box 2 (page 10). [15] Comparisons of various energy sources, The Virtual Nuclear Tourist. 25/03/08. http://www.nucleartourist.com/basics/why.htm [16] Fusion Basics, Focus On: Fusion Technology, and Multimedia, EFDA-JET. 24/03/08 http://www.jet.efda.org/pages/fusion-basics/fusion2.html http://www.jet.efda.org/pages/fusion-basics/fusion3.html http://www.jet.efda.org/pages/fusion-basics/fusion4.html http://www.jet.efda.org/pages/fusion-basics/fusion5.html http://www.jet.efda.org/pages/fusion-basics/fusion6.html http://www.jet.efda.org/pages/focus/fusion-tech/index.html http://www.jet.efda.org/pages/multimedia/gallery/index.html ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

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