Nuclear Reactions: Fission and Fusion


What is fission?

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Process in Nuclear Power Plants

The Element Uranium

Other isotopes such as uranium-232 have been produced in breeder reactors.
Naturally occurring uranium is composed of three major isotopes:
  1. uranium-238 (99.2739 - 99.2752% natural abundance),
  2. uranium-235 (0.7198 - 0.7202%), and
  3. uranium-234 (0.0050 - 0.0059%).

The Hiroshima Syndrome (on Uranium)

More on Uranium

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Intro | Process | Products | Fissile Isoptoes | Fertile Isotopes

Although many heavy nuclei can be induced to fission by high energy neutrons, some can be made to split by neutrons with low kinetic energy. Isotopes that can sustain a chain reaction through fissions induced by thermal (slow) neutrons arefissile.

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The heavy transuranic elements uranium and plutonium are fissile.

The important fissile isotopes are:

  • uranium-233 (233U): produced (bred) from thorium-232 by neutron capture;
  • uranium-235 (235U): naturally-occurring isotope of uranium that comprises only 0.7 % of all uranium;
  • plutonium-239 (239Pu): bred from uranium-238 by neutron capture; and
  • plutonium-241 (241Pu): bred from plutonium-240 by neutron capture.

To reiterate, uranium-235 is the only naturally-occurring fissile element and it comprises only 0.7 % of natural uranium.

Intro | Process | Products | Fissile Isoptoes | Fertile Isotopes

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Copyright @ 2010 J.D. Myers

Nuclear Fission
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