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Nuclear Fusion and Fission

Updated on 21 January 2021
15 min read 1 views
Updated on 21 January 2021

A Nuclear fusion reaction is the one in which two or more small atomic nuclei are merged to form one massive nucleus. This kind of reaction only takes place with the components or elements having a low atomic number like hydrogen and helium.

The energy released in the nuclear fusion process is related to E=mc2

A nuclear fusion reaction is the contrary of a nuclear fission reaction in which heavy elements like uranium diffuse and form lighter elements. Both nuclear fusion and fission can produce a massive amount of energy.  

The energy released in nuclear reactions is much more massive than any of the chemical reactions because there is bond energy attached to the nucleus which is more powerful than the energy held by electrons.

Nuclear Fusion Process

There are various types of fusion reactions but most of them include deuterium and tritium. Some fusion reactions are as follows-

Proton-proton chain- This is the most important fusion reaction as it takes place in the sun in which two pairs of proton i.e. 2 pairs of hydrogen atoms collide and become two atoms of deuterium. These 2 deuteriums are then combined with a proton to become helium.

Deuterium-deuterium reaction- In this reaction, a pair of deuterium atoms are combined to form helium and neutrons

Deuterium-tritium reaction- This process takes place when one molecule of deuterium element combines with one molecule of tritium to form helium-4 and neutron

Thus the nuclear fusion process takes place in three major steps where the first step is the fusion of hydrogen in deuterium, the second part is the formation of helium3, and the third step is the combination of two helium3 atoms into one helium nuclei.


Nuclear Fusion and Fission

We have already discussed that nuclear fusion is exactly the opposite of nuclear fission however there are some considerable differences between the two. These are as follows-

Nuclear Fusion

Nuclear Fission

Two or more small atoms combined to form one atom

One Heavy atom breaks into two or more smaller atoms

They happen naturally and used by every star, such as the sun to produce energy

They do not happen naturally

Nuclear fusion produces massive energy than a fission reaction

They produce much more energy than chemical reaction but not as much as produced by nuclear fusion

Nuclear fusion requires a lot of heat as well as pressure to take place because they are forming two or more into one

It does not require much energy to combine an atom into one.

Radioactive particles produced in the fusion process is low

Nuclear Fission produces many radioactive elements

One class of nuclear weapon is a hydrogen bomb

One class of nuclear fission is the fission bomb, popularly known as atom bombs


Nuclear Fusion in the Sun

Every star in the Universe, even the sun is alive due to the nuclear fusion process. It is through this process only from which they produce such a large amount of heat and energy. Nuclear Fusion reaction takes place at the core of any star because the pressure there is relatively heavier than other parts. Sun makes its energy by nuclear fusion of particularly 2 elements- hydrogen into helium and in this process the sun fuses 500 million metric tons of hydrogen into helium each second.

Sun also takes 3 steps to complete its fusion process in which the first step is when the two protons combine and one of them converts into a neutron to form one big nucleus of hydrogen known as deuterium. The next step takes place when deuterium combines with another proton to form the lighter helium isotope known as helium3.

The Nuclear fusion process is the most important and basic process for life to sustain as without this process sun and stars will not be able to sustain.

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Difference between Acceleration and Velocity

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