Chapter 19 Nuclear Energy
19.1 Energy in your life
Almost everything around us uses electricity and in order to power these devices, we must generate it. To create electrical energy, we must create thermal energy. Several techniques include using coal, natural gas, or nuclear thermal to create heat. Once heat is created, it is used to vaporize water and use the steam to propel a piston which turns an electric generator. Alternative energy sources include wind, solar, and micro hydro. 19.2 Nuclear Structure
All matter is made up of atoms and in the centre of the atom, there is a nucleus. Within the nucleus, there are protons (+) and neutrons (neutral). To find the number of neutrons in an atom, you subtract the atomic mass from the atomic number. Atoms of an element can have different amount of neutrons. These are called Isotopes. 19.3 Unstable Nuclei and Radiation
Positively charged protons in nuclei tend to repel one another. In order to make the nuclei stable, neutrons are present to dilute the forces of repulsion. It acts like a form of “Nuclear glue.” At short ranges, there is a nuclear force of attraction between neutrons and protons. The more protons there are in a nucleus, the more neutrons are required to keep it stable. Nuclei with excessive neutrons are not very stable. These only exist in a high energy state. Radiation refers to the emission that radiate away from the nucleus in the process of becoming more stable. When a nucleus changes by radiation, it is called decay. There are several ways a radioactive nucleus can decay and reach a more stable state. Alpha Decay
The most common way for a nucleus to become stable is by alpha radiation. Alpha decay is a type of radioactive decay in which an atomic nucleus emits an alpha particle and creates a new isotope. The alpha particle is the nucleus of helium, two protons and two neutrons. This radiation is usually emitted by the heaviest elements.
This occurs when there are an excess of...
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