Nuclear Fission and Fusion

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What is nuclear fission?
The splitting up of big atomic nuclei
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What do nuclear power stations use to generate electricity?
Nuclear reactors
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What happens in a nuclear reactor in order to produce electricity?
A controlled chain reaction takes place in which atomic nuclei split up and release energy in the form of heat. This is used to heat water to make steam, which drives a steam turbine connected to an electricity generator
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Which two isotopes can be used for nuclear fission?
Uranium-235 and/or plutonium-239
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What must be absorbed into a uranium or plutonium nucleus?
A slow moving neutron
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Why must a neutron be absorbed?
The addition of a neutron makes the nucleus unstable, causing it to split
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How does the chain reaction keep going?
When the neutron is absorbed, two or three other neutrons are emitted, which might hit another nucleus, thus keeping the chain reaction going
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When the atom splits, what is formed?
Two or three neutrons, and two smaller nuclei
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What is a common property of these two smaller nuclei and why?
They are usually radioactive because they have the 'wrong' number of neutrons in them
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Why are nuclear reactions more powerful than chemical reactions?
This is because they release much more energy than chemical processes do
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What is the main drawback of nuclear fission?
The products left behind by nuclear fission are highly reactive, so they're very difficult and expensive to dispose of safely
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Why is the overall cost of nuclear power high?
The power plant is expensive as well as decommissioning costs
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What is the most dangerous risk of nuclear power?
Radiation leaks
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What is the most well-known example of a nuclear power disaster?
Chernobyl
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What is nuclear fusion?
The joining of small atomic nuclei
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What is produced when two light nuclei join?
They create a larger nuclei as well as energy
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What does hydrogen form during nuclear fusion?
Helium
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What uses nuclear fusion to release energy?
Stars
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What are two benefits of using fusion?
Fusion doesn't leave behind a lot of radioactive waste, and there is a lot of hydrogen to use as fuel
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What are problems with using fusion?
It can only happen at really high temperatures, and you need an extremely strong magnetic field
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What is the temperature that nuclear fusion can happen at?
About 10,000,000 degrees C
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Why have there been no successful attempts at producing a fusion reactor yet?
At the moment, it takes more power to get up to the temperature needed than the reactor produces
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Other cards in this set

Card 2

Front

What do nuclear power stations use to generate electricity?

Back

Nuclear reactors

Card 3

Front

What happens in a nuclear reactor in order to produce electricity?

Back

Preview of the front of card 3

Card 4

Front

Which two isotopes can be used for nuclear fission?

Back

Preview of the front of card 4

Card 5

Front

What must be absorbed into a uranium or plutonium nucleus?

Back

Preview of the front of card 5
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