Questions to Answer:

What is fission? What is it used for?

Fission is a process that splits an atomic nuclei into smaller parts. Only Uranium and Plutonium can undergo fission. The following is a general example of a fission process:

external image fission.jpg

In the picture, a neutron is bombarded into an atom, which causes a chain reaction to occur. Two smaller atoms are formed and three extra neutrons are released, which can be used to start another fission reaction. This is the reaction that is used to generate power for nuclear power plants.

Fission can be regulated by two different ways. Neutron moderation is a process that slows down fast neutrons so the reactor fuel captures them to continue the chain reaction. Neutron absorption is a process that captures slow-moving neutrons to speed up the fission process. These techniques are initiated by the use of control rods, which are made of cadmium. The following picture is a diagram of how nuclear power plants uses fission reactions to generate energy:

external image graphics49.jpg

A big component of a fission nuclear reactor is the use of water. This is the reason why power plants are generally located near a large body of water, such as bays, rivers, and oceans.

What is fusion? What is it used for?

Fusion is a reaction that occurs when smaller nuclei combine to make a bigger nucleus. The picture below is an example of a fusion reaction:

external image fusion.jpg

The sun is powered by fusion reactions. These types of reactions generate more energy than fission reactions because it is necessary to start these reactions at very high temperatures. The sun is made up of 75% hydrogen and when 4 hydrogen atoms fuse together, they form a helium atom and release a lot of energy.

FIVE Multiple Choice Questions:
1) Which of the following atoms is commonly used in fusion reactions on the sun?
a. hydrogen
b. helium
c. lithium
d. beryllium

2) How can fast-moving neutrons be slowed down, thus slowing down a fission reaction?
a. through neutron moderation
b. through neutron absorption
c. increasing the temperature
d. adding water

3) Which reaction produces the most energy?
a. chemical reactions
b. fission reactions
c. fusion reactions
d. neutralization reactions

4) Where must a power plant be located?
a. by trees
b. in a town
c. by a mine
d. by a large body of water

5) Which of the following is a product of a fusion reaction?
a. tritium
b. deuterium
c. helium
d. neutron
e. All of the above

Works Cited

Wilbraham, Antony. Chemistry. N.p.: Prentice Hall, 2008. Print.

Nuclear Physics. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Nov. 2011. < fusion.html>.