Nuclear Transmutations Particle accelerators made it possible to synthesize the transuranium elements (elements with atomic number greater than 92). These particle accelerators are enormous, having circular tracks with radii that are miles long. Nuclear transformations can be induced by accelerating a particle and colliding it with the nuclide.
7N 14 13 Al 27 + 24a + 24a
1 N + 7 1p 14 17
O + 11p 8 30 P + 10n 15
4 C + 2a 6 11 23.4
Nuclear Fission Bombardment of the radioactive nuclide with a neutron starts the process. Neutrons released in the transmutation strike other nuclei, causing their decay and the production of more neutrons. This process continues in what we
call a nuclear chain reaction. Nuclear Fission Representative fission reaction 1 U + 0n 92
235 143 1 Sr + Xe + 3
38 0n + Energy 54 90 23.5 Nuclear chain reaction is a self-sustaining sequence of nuclear fission reactions. Therefore, there must be a certain minimum amount of fissionable material present for
the chain reaction to be sustained: Critical Mass. Critical Mass is the minimum mass of fissionable material required to generate a self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction. If there are not enough radioactive nuclides in the path of the ejected neutrons, the chain reaction will die out. Nuclear Fission
Application of Nuclear Fission: The Atomic Bomb Development of the Atomic Bomb At the beginning of WW2 Germany had a head start under the guidance of the physicist Werner Heisenberg Development of the Atomic Bomb
Using heavy water (D2O) Heisenberg managed to slow neutrons even more than with regular water (H2O). British commandos sabotaged the heavy water production facility in Norway and later sunk a ferry transporting heavy water to Germany.
During WW2 the American set up a secret project called the Manhattan Project recruiting all the best physicists and nuclear chemists available. By 1945 they developed two types of nuclear bombs: a U-235 fission bomb and a Pu-239 fission bomb. Little Boy and Fat Man 10 feet Size of Pu core of Nagasaki bomb
Power = 22,000 tons TNT Schematics of an atomic bomb When two SUBCRITICAL masses are forced together to form a CRITICAL mass... Little Boy Hiroshima, August 6, 1945 U-235 bomb
Fat Man Nagasaki, Aug 9, 1954 Pu-239 bomb Application of Nuclear Fission: Nuclear Reactors In nuclear reactors the heat generated by the reaction is used to produce steam that turns a turbine
connected to a generator. Application of Nuclear Fission: Nuclear Reactors The reaction is kept in check by the use of control rods (cadmium or boron rods). These block the paths of some neutrons,
keeping the system from reaching a dangerous supercritical mass. Nuclear Fission 35,000 tons SO2 4.5 x 106 tons CO2 3.5 x 106 ft3 ash
1,000 MW coal-fired power plant Annual Waste Production 70 ft3 vitrified waste 1,000 MW nuclear
power plant 23.5 Hazards of nuclear energy Nuclear accidents Chernobyl, a reactor at the nuclear plant in Ukraine went out of control. Chernobyl - Reactor 4 After the explosion
Radiation Burns 30 direct casualties resulted from the accident (plant operators and firefighters). Radiation released from Chernobyl was 200 times the amount of radiation released at Hiroshima + Nagasaki.
Radioactive Plume - Day 2 Radioactive Plume - Day 6 Radioactive Plume - Day 10 Hazards of nuclear energy Other hazards:
Interbed rock layer Host rock formation Repository Waste package
Interbed rock layer Aquifier Bedrock Waste form Nuclear Fusion combining of two nuclei to
form one nucleus of larger mass. thermonuclear reaction requires temp of 40,000,000 K to sustain. 1 g of fusion fuel = 20 tons of coal. occurs naturally in star. 2 1
3 1 H H Fusion would be a superior method of generating power: The good news is that the products of the reaction are not radioactive.
The bad news is that in order to achieve fusion, the material must be in the plasma state at several million Kelvins. Attempt of cold fusion have failed and hot fusion is difficult to contain. Tokamak apparatus shows promise for carrying out these reactions. Magnetic fields are used to heat the material. Nuclear Fusion
Fusion Reaction 2 2 3 1 1H + 1H 1 H + 1H 3 H +
1 1H 2 2 Li + 3 1H 6
1 He + 2 0n 4 2 42He
Energy Released 6.3 x 10-13 J 2.8 x 10-12 J 3.6 x 10-12 J Tokamak magnetic plasma confinement (plasma = gaseous mixture of positive ions and electrons)
23.6 Tokamak magnetic plasma confinement Fission vs. Fusion
U is limited danger of meltdown toxic waste 235 thermal pollution (temperature change in natural water bodies caused by human influence)
fuel is abundant no danger of meltdown no toxic waste not yet sustainable (meeting the
needs of the present without compromising the needs of future generations) Nuclear power produces needed energy, but nuclear waste threatens our future. Nuclear weapons make us strong, but dirty bombs make
us vulnerable. Nuclear medicine heals us, but nuclear radiation sickens us. Radio-carbon dating tells us about the past, but challenges our religious faith.
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