Atomic energy, also known as nuclear energy, is the energy that is released by splitting or combining atomic nuclei. It is a powerful source of energy that can be harnessed to generate electricity, power submarines, and fuel spacecraft. Atomic energy is obtained through a process called nuclear fission or fusion.
Nuclear fission is the process in which an atom is split into two or more smaller particles, releasing a large amount of energy in the form of heat and light. This process occurs when an atom is bombarded with neutrons, causing the nucleus to become unstable and split into two or more smaller nuclei. During this process, a large amount of energy is released in the form of heat, which can be used to generate electricity.
The most commonly used fuel for nuclear fission is uranium-235, which is a naturally occurring radioactive element. Uranium-235 is mined from the earth and then enriched to increase its concentration of fissile material. Once enriched, the uranium-235 is formed into fuel pellets and placed into a nuclear reactor.
A nuclear reactor is a device that controls the process of nuclear fission to generate electricity. It consists of a core containing the fuel pellets, a moderator, control rods, and a coolant. The moderator is a material that slows down the neutrons released during fission, allowing them to more easily interact with other uranium atoms and sustain the reaction. Control rods are used to control the rate of the reaction by absorbing neutrons and reducing the number available for fission. The coolant is used to remove heat from the reactor and transfer it to a steam generator.
Once the nuclear reaction has started, the heat generated by the fission of the uranium-235 heats up the coolant, which then flows through a steam generator. The steam generator then converts the heat into steam, which is used to turn a turbine. The turbine, in turn, drives a generator that produces electricity.
Nuclear fusion is the process in which two or more atomic nuclei combine to form a heavier nucleus, releasing a large amount of energy in the process. Nuclear fusion occurs naturally in the sun and other stars and is being studied as a potential source of energy on earth. Unlike nuclear fission, which requires large amounts of radioactive material, nuclear fusion can be achieved using hydrogen, which is abundant in the earth’s oceans.
In conclusion, atomic energy is a powerful source of energy that can be harnessed through nuclear fission or fusion. Nuclear fission is the process of splitting atomic nuclei to release energy, while nuclear fusion is the process of combining atomic nuclei to release energy. Nuclear reactors are used to control the process of nuclear fission to generate electricity, while nuclear fusion is still being studied as a potential source of energy.