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Fission and Fusion

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Skills for Chemistry: Open Book Paper Introduction This open book report is about radioactivity, nuclear fission and nuclear fusion. I will firstly be focusing on radioactive decay and then moving on to nuclear fission and fusion. Radioactive Decay and Nuclear Fission Radioactive elements have unstable nuclei, meaning they are transformed into other elements, typically by emitting particles. This process, called radioactive decay, generally consists of the emission of alpha or beta particles from the nucleus. The main difference between alpha and beta decay is that alpha decay is when the unstable atomic nuclei emits an alpha particle, which contains two protons and two neutrons (the same as a helium nucleus). For example: Ra Rn + He However beta decay is when a neutron in the nucleus of an atom is converted into a proton and an electron and the electron is released. For example: Ra Ac + e- Natural radioactive decay differs from nuclear fission reactions. This is because natural radioactive decay happens spontaneously, whereas nuclear fission is controlled. ...read more.


The production of the small amounts of hydrogen and helium nuclei in stars makes it possible to synthesise these elements. There are two routes for the generation of elements. Firstly, helium nuclei can fuse with a hydrogen nuclei forming lithium: 4He + 3H 7Li Another way is if a helium atom fuses with a tritium atom making Beryllium isotope. However, then Beryllium reacts with an electron to from Lithium because this would cause the proton number and the structure of the nucleus to change: 4He + 3H 7Be 7Be + e- 7Li Lithium can also be produce by supernovas or the action of cosmic rays on elements such as carbon and nitrogen. Fission and Fusion The main characteristics of fission, is that when an atom absorbs a neutron, it causes the nucleus to oscillate and become unstable. This causes an atom to split, giving out three neutrons and causes this process again. On possible fission reaction is Uranium-235: n + U Kr + Ba + 3 n The main characteristics of fusion are when two atoms collide together to form a heavier atom. ...read more.


* The radioactivity if the structure of a fusion power station is short lived, as it doesn't take a long time to decay. * It also is highly safe because only small amounts of fuel is used so cannot get out of control. A disadvantage is that: * It is very difficult to be able to create the conditions that happen in our Sun on Earth and to control then. Fusion Power Stations Scientists will encounter problems with using fusion power stations as it is difficult to recreate the reaction that happen in stars on Earth. It's hard to reproduce fusion under the same conditions as stars on Earth and to safely manage them. Fusion on nuclei requires extremely high temperatures. At normal temperatures on Earth, the repulsion between the two nuclei would be too great for the nuclei to fuse, and its very difficult to obtain these temperatures on Earth. It has to be really dense to form plasma, however this plasma must be kept away from the vessel walls, otherwise the energy would escape. Overall, I have explained radioactivity and fission and fusion reactions. ?? ?? ?? ?? Faye Millward 8461 1 ...read more.

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