HKNIC - Nuclear Fission
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Nuclear Fission

Protons and neutrons are held together in an atomic nucleus by very strong energy, which is released when the atom is split in a process called "nuclear fission". Only a few elements may be split. In a nuclear reactor, the most common material used for nuclear fission reaction is uranium. The nucleus of the uranium atom may be split into two almost equal halves under certain conditions if hit by a neutron. The total mass of the fragments after fission is slightly less than that of the original nucleus and this reduction in mass appears as energy. While the loss in mass is small even from the perspective of the atom, the amount of energy is significant since it is related to the loss of mass by the square of the velocity of light (2.998 x 108 m/s).

In fission, in addition to splitting into two halves, the nucleus also releases two or sometimes three neutrons. These neutrons can in turn split other atoms and release more neutrons in a chain reaction. Each fission produces only a small amount of energy but by producing millions of fission events each second in a reactor, enough heat is produced for a commercial power station.

Nuclear Fission