Let’s talk about Nuclear Fission!! One of the ways in which we can generate a tremendous amount of energy is through nuclear reactions. Nuclear power plants use a nuclear reaction to heat water into steam, which in turn spin turbines that generate electricity.
There are two types of nuclear reactions by which we can generate energy – nuclear fission and nuclear fusion.
Many believe that both nuclear fission and nuclear fusion are used in nuclear power plants to generate energy. However, we only use nuclear fission, even when we know that nuclear fusion is a much better alternative in terms of fuel availability and energy production.
So, why are we dependent on the more hazardous option of nuclear fission?
Before we get into the specifics of fission and fusion, you need to understand the difference between the two.
Nuclear Fission is The process of generating heat by splitting heavy atoms. The splitting of atoms is achieved by hitting the heavy atom with high-speed particles, usually neutrons.
On the other hand Nuclear Fusion is The process of generating heat by joining two lightweight atoms to form a heavier atom.
The nuclear generators that we have today use nuclear fission to generate heat. A nuclear fission reactor uses ceramic Uranium Oxide pellets for its cores.
The Uranium atoms are then split by bombarding it with neutrons. The split results in a tremendous amount of heat, releasing more neutrons in the process.
These new neutrons then hit other Uranium atoms, which keeps on generating more heat and neutrons.
This is called a chain reaction and we can control the rate of reaction using moderators like graphite or water.
Then how do we stop a reactor? Cadmium rods are used in a Nuclear reactors to stop the chain reaction, since cadmium can effectively absorb neutrons.
A coolant is circulated to absorb the heat and prevent the reactor from getting too hot. This is the heat that turns the water to steam and then to useful energy.
The thermal output is very large for the Uranium pellets that we use in nuclear reactors, making the reactor economical in a sense. Just 20 grams of uranium fuel can make as much energy as 400 kilograms of coal.
Just eight Uranium pellets can power a house for a year.
When we compare nuclear energy with other forms of fossil fuels in regards to producing heat, nuclear energy comes out to be far cleaner since no CO2 is produced.
Thanks for watching. In the next video we will discuss nuclear fusion. Subscribe to this channel and click that bell icon to get notified when I upload a new video. See you soon,