Atomic energy comes in two varieties: nuclear and thermonuclear. Atomic energy comes from splitting atoms, while thermonuclear point comes from fusing them. Both types of nuclear energy produce vast amounts of power in small packages, making them ideal as rocket fuels and nuclear reactors.
In nuclear fission, atoms split apart. That’s what happens in a nuclear power plant or a nuclear bomb. Scientists use enrichment to make sure these kinds of reactors can’t explode like bombs. Fission releases enormous energy, but it must be done under exact conditions.
The worst nuclear disaster in history happened at Chornobyl after some poorly trained workers experimented with untested fission technology; they caused a massive explosion that contaminated nearly all of Europe and spread radioactive material across more than 100 miles. Even decades later, thousands of people living nearby still don’t have access to clean drinking water.
There are safer ways to produce fission-based energy today—but even those options come with their own set of risks and hazards if not handled correctly by professionals. And let’s face it: safe fission isn’t cheap. Only governments or very wealthy companies can afford an actual fission reactor license.
When two or more atoms join to form a larger one, that is known as nuclear fusion. The process takes place at incredibly high temperatures inside stars and can be used here on Earth for energy production. Atomic fusion generates vast amounts of power from small quantities of fuel. However, scientists have not yet found a way to create large-scale nuclear fusion reactors for human use. Also, nuclear fusion is hazardous; some forms produce radioactive waste.
The first step in harnessing nuclear energy from a star is understanding how it produces heat in its core. Inside every star, temperatures reach millions of degrees Celsius due to intense pressures caused by gravity. At these high temperatures, hydrogen atoms fuse into helium atoms and release a lot of energy. We can’t replicate these conditions on Earth, but there are other ways we can use stars as an example for producing energy.
The Sun uses nuclear fusion reactions to provide all of our planet’s energy. However, it takes a lot of fuel (mostly hydrogen) to create enough pressure inside the Sun so that fusion happens at all. Without a steady flow of energy coming out of fusing elements, stars will eventually collapse under their weight. Nuclear fission: In atomic fission reactions, large unstable heavy atoms break down into smaller ones with the help of neutrons. This releases enormous amounts of energy that can be harnessed here on Earth to power homes or generate electricity.
Other Types of Atomic Energy
After learning about nuclear fission, a type of atomic energy that involves splitting atoms, you might want to know about other classes. Here’s a brief look at two. More advanced forms may be available in future human space flight. For example, Nuclear fusion is another form of atomic energy that heats and illuminates Earth and planets such as Jupiter and stars such as our Sun. The power from hydrogen fusion bombs is also an example of fusion energy and could become more prevalent on Earth with time. Scientists hope that humans will harness fusion for practical purposes one day.
This type of energy has nothing directly to do with fission reactions which create uranium reactors in use today; it uses extremely high temperatures and densities instead of radioactivity. It is safe, environmentally clean and produces almost no greenhouse gases or long-lived radioactive waste compared to what we have now (at least theoretically).
Theoretically, Fusion Power Systems would consume ordinary water or liquid lithium rather than enriched uranium fuel rods to produce electricity. While current designs for fusion plants sound promising, so far, they remain experimental. Fusion is hard to achieve because it requires hot ionized gas kept at incredibly high pressures and densities—conditions similar to those found in suns and stellar explosions like supernovas.
Also read: atomic energy https://www.britannica.com/science/nuclear-energy