Spark image

Energy from nuclear fission

When a nucleus of uranium splits due to the impact of neutron energy is produced. This process is called nuclear fission.

This energy is in the form of kinetic energy of the products of the fission reaction the remaining two nuclei of smaller mass (called fission fragments) and two or three fast moving neutrons. This can be converted into heat energy

There is also some energy 'locked away' in the mass of all the particles involved in the reaction. We call this mass-energy.

Energy is produced because the mass of the uranium nucleus and the neutron is very slightly greater than the products of the reaction the fission fragments and the neutrons.

The energy released in the fission of one uranium nucleus is very small but a kilogramme of uranium contains about a million million million million million uranium nuclei. So the fission of a kilogramme of uranium would produce a considerable amount of energy.

In fact you would get as much energy from the fission of ALL the nuclei in 1 ton of uranium as you would from burning three million tons of coal!

This is the basis of all nuclear fission reactors.


© Keith Gibbs 2020