How Is Nuclear Energy Obtained?

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

How is nuclear energy obtained? Nuclear power is obtained from the energy which can be released from the nucleus of an atom during fission or fusion. Until the 20th century man used water, wood, and the fossil fuels, such as coal, oil, and gas, as sources of energy. During the first quarter of the 20th century physicists investigated the structure of the atom. In 1919, Rutherford split the atom artificially. Thirteen years later, the neutron was discovered; a neutron is an atomic particle found in the atom nucleus, representing the mass of the atom. In 1939, Otto Hahn and Strassman investigated the action of neutrons on uranium -235; they found that an uranium -235 atom could be split in two equal pieces. This process is known as fission, which releases great amount of energy. The neutrons that are released in fission produce fissions in other atoms, that is to say, "splits". This is known as a chain reaction. On October 2, 1942, Enrico Fermi, an Italian physicist, and his colleagues produced the first controlled nuclear chain reaction.

Nuclear energy has been used in war and peace. In 1951, electricity was first produced by using the heat from a nuclear reactor. The heat liberated from uranium rods is used to obtain steam in special boilers. This highly pressurized steam is then used to propel a turbine, whose shaft is coupled to a generator shaft to produce alternating current (electricity). Since the late 1950s, nuclear power has been used to power submarines and aircraft carriers. Nuclear batteries are now being used in cardiac pacemakers.

Up until today, controlled atomic fusion reactions has been impossible to obtain. It has only been acquired by the detonation of an uranium or plutonium fission bomb, which triggers the fusion of hydrogen atoms during a thermonuclear explosion in the military field, producing even greater amount of energy than that during fission reaction.