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Advantages and Disadvantages of Nuclear Fission

Atoms consist of nuclei and electrons. Nuclei consist of protons and neutrons. The number of protons determines the positive charge of the nucleus and the number of orbiting electrons. The mass of the electrons is negligible compared with that of protons and neutrons. The total mass of an atom depends on the total numbers of protons and neutrons.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Nuclear Fission: Energy sources are classified into three main kinds: fossil fuels, renewable resources and nuclear sources. To contemplate on advantages and disadvantages of nuclear fission, we compare against fossil fuels (non-renewable) and renewable resources.

 

Nuclear Fission Energy

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Nuclear fission involves splitting up of a larger unit or object into smaller units. The energy generated is due to capture of a neutron floating around. This happens at random. E.g. Uranium converts into its unstable isotope U236. This highly unstable substance keeps releasing energy, and splits or fissions into smaller units – barium, krypton and 3 neutrons per U236 atom. The energy released is of the order of 10 billion Kilo Joules per mole.

Fission is a process in which a neutron strikes a heavy nucleus and is absorbed to form a compound nucleus.This compound nucleus is unstable and may break into two or more smaller atomic nuclei with the simultaneous emission of several neutrons.

Nuclear Fission Energy

Fission is a single atom of uranium yields 200MeV (million electron volts 200MeV equals 3.2 $\times$ 10-11J) whereas the oxidation of one carbon atom releases only 4eV. On an equal weight basis this 50 million ratio becomes about 2.5million the total energy from nuclear fission of 1 ton of uranium is approximately as great as that from 2.5 million tons of coal. The intensity with nuclear energy is released both requires and permits the use of sophisticated capital intensive equipment for its controlled conversion to heat and electric power.

Advantages of Nuclear Fission

  1. Small amount of U-235 can produce large amount of energy while burning of fossil fuels produces much less energy.
  2. Once a nuclear fuel is loaded into a nuclear reactor, it will go on liberating energy for two to three years at a stretch whereas fossil fuels have to be refilled at short intervals in thermal power plant.

Disadvantages of Nuclear Fission

Nuclear fission emits very harmful radiations which causes serious like cancer and leukemia.


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