Energy from Atoms

Chemical energy is related to the type of chemical conversion in which each atom of a reagent retains its identity and there is no change in its behavior and nature. But there are also some energy conversion processes in which the nuclei of some atoms remain unchanged.

This type of energy conversion processes yields large amounts of energy. Since the nuclei of atoms participate in these processes, the energy obtained is called nuclear energy. 

Nuclear Energy

The energy stored in the nucleus of an atom is called nuclear energy. This energy stored in the nucleus of an atom can be released by breaking (disintegrating) it into two lighter nuclei than a heavy nucleus such as uranium. 

Nuclear Fission is the breaking of the nucleus of an atom into two equal mass segments in which such energy is released. When an independent neutron collides with a uranium nucleus at the right speed, it is absorbed into it. After absorption of the neutron, the uranium nucleus becomes very unstable and breaks into the nucleus of the small atom and in this process energy is released to a great extent.

In this process, some neutrons are also released. These neutrons fragment other uranium nuclei. Running this sequence rapidly releases energy and is called chain reaction. This reaction produces extremely high quantities of heat, which are used in many ways.

Neutrons released in a fission reaction to produce electric current are absorbed by controlled sticks made of cadmium. Nuclear fission reactions are controlled and routinely generated in nuclear reactors.

The energy gathered in nuclear reactors is used to heat water to create steam and it drives the steam generator, which generates electricity.

Great scientists like Homi Jahangir Bhabha and APJ Abdul Kalam have a huge hand in strengthening and advancing our country in the field of nuclear energy.

Uses of Nuclear Energy 

The following are the uses of nuclear energy: 

  • The heat generated in the nuclear reactor is used to heat water by steam. It is used to rotate the turbine due to which the electric generator starts working and electricity is generated.
  • Nowadays nuclear energy is being used to operate submarines and ships. Nuclear-powered ships and submarines can be operated for long distances without refueling.
  • The nuclear energy of bombs (atomic bombs and hydrogen bombs) is used to protect the country.
  • Radioisotopes are made by nuclear energy, which are used in agriculture, research and hospitals.

Nuclear Energy Hazards

Nuclear radiation is also employed when nuclear reactors generate nuclear energy that can pierce the human body and cause so much damage to cells that it is not possible to be treated. Nuclear reactors are covered with very thick radiation absorbing materials such as lead, to protect them from degradation of these severe and deadly nuclear radiations.

But if there is a slight error in the structure of the reactor or if any natural untoward incident occurs with a completely safe reactor, then this type of very harmful radiation can be employed in the environment, due to which the people living around that area pose a permanent threat to animals.

Many such substances are produced at each stage of the nuclear cycle. These harmful nuclear materials are collectively called nuclear waste.