Examples Of Nuclear Energy

We explain that what are the examples of nuclear energy? The nuclear energy is the one stored in the nucleus of an atom . The subatomic particles that make up the nucleus: protons and neutrons, are held together thanks to this type of energy, and form the chemical element. Nuclear energy can be used to generate electrical energy, but it must first be released.

For this release there are two main mechanisms:

  • Nuclear fusion
  • Nuclear fission

In nuclear fusion , energy is released when the nuclei of atoms combine or fuse together to create a larger nucleus, of a higher chemical element. It is in this way that the sun, our star king, generates its energy.

In nuclear fission , nuclei separate into nuclei of smaller elements, releasing energy. The nuclear plants operate with nuclear fission to generate electricity.

Which is nuclear fusion?

The nuclear fusion is a reaction that occurs between atomic nuclei. In it, two nuclei of light atoms, generally hydrogen ( 1 H) and its isotopes deuterium ( 2 H) and tritium ( 3 H), unite to form a heavier nucleus , generally releasing particles in the process. These reactions can absorb or release energy, depending on whether the mass of the nuclei is greater or less than that of iron, respectively.

In the sun, the central star of our planetary system, it works with fusion reactions. In them, hydrogen nuclei ( 1 H) fuse to form helium gas ( 2 He), releasing in the process a large amount of energy in the form of electromagnetic radiation, which reaches the earth’s surface and is perceived as light and heat.

For nuclear fusion to occur, an energy must be reached such that the nuclei get so close, overcoming the forces of electrostatic repulsion. Three conditions are needed to produce fusion:

  • Operating a particle accelerator or heating matter to very high temperatures (in this case it is called thermal fusion , and it takes the atoms to the plasma state, made up of free electrons and highly ionized atoms).
  • Control the plasma at high temperatures in the fusion reactor cavity, for a sufficient time for the reaction.
  • Achieve a sufficient plasma density so that the nuclei are close to each other, covering a small volume.

What is nuclear fission?

Nuclear fission is the reaction in which the nucleus of a heavy atom, upon capturing an incident neutron, splits into two or more nuclei of lighter atoms, called fission products, giving off in the process:

  • Neutrons
  • Gamma rays
  • Large amounts of energy

The nucleus that receives the incident neutron becomes unstable and, as a consequence, its split into lighter fragments occurs, giving rise to a situation of greater stability. In addition to these products, several neutrons are generated in the fission reaction which, when incident on other fissile nuclei, trigger further fission reactions which in turn release more neutrons, and so on. This is where the term ” chain reaction ” is derived .

For a fission reaction to occur and for it to be a chain reaction, certain conditions are required to be met:

  • Geometry of fissile material
  • Exceed the minimum amount of material (critical mass)
  • Have an electron that hits the right energy to start it

Nuclear facilities

Nuclear facilities are systems made up of equipment and services, which are intended to produce, handle or transform nuclear energy. They can be classified into five types:

  • Nuclear power plants
  • Nuclear reactors
  • Nuclear fuel factories
  • Nuclear substance warehouses
  • Producers of new energy sources

The nuclear power plants are fixed installations whose main function is the production of energy by a nuclear reactor.

The nuclear reactors are the structures that have allowed nuclear fuel so that within them a self – sustaining process of nuclear fission can occur without an additional source of neutrons.

Factories include those that use nuclear substances to produce nuclear fuels and other factories for the treatment of nuclear substances , such as facilities for the treatment or reprocessing of irradiated nuclear fuels.

The storage of nuclear substances are facilities where nuclear substances, except for the locations where such materials are stored incidentally during transportation (such as trucks capsules) are stored.

Devices and installations that use nuclear fusion or fission reactions to produce energy or with a view to the production or development of new energy sources.

Examples of nuclear energy

  1. Nuclear energy is used to generate electrical energy, with the same principle used by thermoelectric and hydroelectric plants. Steam is produced to drive turbines and communicate this mechanical energy to an electrical generator.
  2. Nuclear energy is one of the cleanest, since it does not pollute if the process is kept under control. However, if a failure or leak of radioactive (nuclear) material occurs, radiation contamination can be fatal.
  3. There are nuclear power plants that use Pressurized Water Reactors (PWR) . In them, the water circulates in a liquid state and at very high pressure through the so-called “primary circuit”, by means of pumps that drive it through the reactor core where it is heated before going to the steam generators.
  4. There are nuclear power plants that use Boiling Water Reactors (BWR) . In this design of power plants, there is no secondary water-steam circuit, but it is the same cooling fluid that circulates through the vessel and the reactor core that evaporates as it passes through the core. In this way, the steam that is directed to the turbine comes out directly from the reactor vessel.
  5. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is the organization for cooperation in the nuclear field. Since its creation in 1957, it has worked to pursue the safe and peaceful use of nuclear technologies.
  6. Since 1981, the IAEA has published “Nuclear Power Reactors in the World” every year. This publication describes the statistics of the countries that operate nuclear power plants.

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