Fission!

A Way to Get More Energy

What is Fission?

Nuclear fission is either a nuclear reaction or a radioactive decay process in which the nucleus of an atom splits into smaller parts. Fission is a form of nuclear transmutation because the resulting fragments are not the same element as the original atom. The two nuclei produced are most often of comparable but slightly different sizes, typically with a mass ratio of products of about 3 to 2, for common fissile isotopes. Most fission's are binary fission's (producing two charged fragments), but occasionally, three positively charged fragments are produced, in a ternary fission. The smallest of these fragments in ternary processes ranges in size from a proton to an argon nucleus.The fission process often produces free neutrons and photons (in the form of gamma rays), and releases a very large amount of energy even by the energetic standards of radioactive decay.Overall, the cost of Nuclear Fission Power is dominated by the capital cost of construction of the plant. Proponents of next generation, (3rd generation), Nuclear Power plants were initially projected to be around $1000 - $1200 per KW

A Little Bit of History

Discovery

The discovery of nuclear fission occurred in 1938 in the buildings of Kaiser Wilhelm Society for Chemistry, today part of the Free University of Berlin, following nearly five decades of work on the science of radioactivity and the elaboration of new nuclear physics that described the components of atoms. In 1911, Ernest Rutherford proposed a model of the atom in which a very small, dense and positively charged nucleus of protons (the neutron had not yet been discovered) was surrounded by orbiting, negatively charged electrons (the Rutherford model).[13] Niels Bohr improved upon this in 1913 by reconciling the quantum behavior of electrons (the Bohr model). Nuclear fission of heavy elements was discovered on December 17, 1938 by German Otto Hahn and his assistant Fritz Strassmann, and explained theoretically in January 1939 by Lise Meitner and her nephew Otto Robert Frisch.

Rocket scientists agree that we have about reached the limit of our ability to travel in space using chemical rockets. To achieve anything near the speed of light we will need a new energy source and a new propellant. Nuclear fission is not an option. - Wilson Greatbatch

How it Works

"Chain Reactions" at that time were a known phenomenon in chemistry, but the analogous process in nuclear physics, using neutrons, had been foreseen as early as 1933 by Szilárd, although Szilárd at that time had no idea with what materials the process might be initiated. Szilárd considered that neutrons would be ideal for such a situation, since they lacked an electrostatic charge.With the news of fission neutrons from uranium fission, Szilárd immediately understood the possibility of a nuclear chain reaction using uranium.

Critical fission reactors are the most common type of nuclear reactor. In a critical fission reactor, neutrons produced by fission of fuel atoms are used to induce yet more fission's, to sustain a controllable amount of energy release. Devices that produce engineered but non-self-sustaining fission reactions are sub critical fission reactors.. Such devices use radioactive decay or particle accelerator to trigger fission's.Critical fission reactors are built for three primary purposes, which typically involve different engineering trade-offs to take advantage of either the heat or the neutrons produced by the fission chain reaction.

Where its found today? One class of nuclear weapon, a fission bomb, otherwise known as an atomic bomb or atom bomb, is a fission reactor designed to liberate as much energy as possible as rapidly as possible, before the released energy causes the reactor to explode

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"Of all the failed technologies that litter the onward march of science - steam carriages, zeppelins, armoured trains - none has been so catastrophic to prosperity as the last century's attempt to generate electricity from nuclear fission." - James Buchan