Nuclear Energy

Nuclear energy is basically the energy released from the splitting or fusion of the nucleus of the atom. The law of conservation of energy states that energy cannot be destroyed; rather it can be only change form. In nuclear reactions, the energy may be released as heat or radiation. Both of these transformations have been successfully used in modern technology.

Initially in the eighteenth century, wood was used as the primary fuel. Subsequent to the industrial revolution, focus was shifted to fossil fuels such as coal, oil and gas. The energy released from burning such fuels was basically derived by changes in the structure of electrons in the atom. Nuclear energy, on the other hand, is derived from making or breaking the bonds between the neutrons and protons found in the nucleus. These nuclear forces are much stronger when compared to the energy derived from burning fossil fuels.

There are two main nuclear reactions i.e. fission and fusion respectively. The main basic difference between fusion and fission is that in fission, a nucleus is split into smaller ones. The nuclear bonds are broken thus resulting in release of energy. In fusion however, two nuclei are combined to make one nucleus. This normally results in the creation of an unstable nucleus which then breaks down in to smaller nuclei again resulting in release of energy. Fission reactors have been set up successfully, fusion reactors are a future prospect and research is still being done to date.

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