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Section 3 Inside the nucleus of the atom contains protons and neutrons. Nuclear reactions involves tremendous amounts of energy. Two types of nuclear reactions: 1. Fission 2. Fusion Nuclear fission is the splitting of an atom’s nucleus into two smaller nuclei. The fuel is a large unstable atom such as Uranium-235. When the neutron hits the U-235 nucleus, the nucleus splits apart into two smaller nuclei and 2 or more neutrons. If a nuclear chain reaction is not controlled, the released energy causes a huge explosion. (atomic bomb) If a nuclear chain reaction is controlled, the energy is released as heat, which can be used to generate electricity. Controlled nuclear fission. The heat released from the reactions is used to change water into steam. The steam then turns the blades of a turbine to generate the electricity. Two main parts to the power plant: Reactor Vessel Heat Exchanger Nuclear power plants generate much of the worlds electricity.(20% in the U.S.) Meltdowns (Chernobyl, Ukraine) 1. Fuel rods produced too much heat, 2. Increase steam pressure, 3. Explosions occurred, 4. Radioactive materials escapes. Radioactive waste disposal Nuclear Fusion is the combining of 2 atomic nuclei to produce a single larger nucleus. Advantages: 1. It produces more energy per atom than nuclear fission. 2. It is readily available. 3. It is safer 4. Less polluting than nuclear fission. Disadvantages: 1. Scientists have not yet been able to control a large-scale fusion reaction. No material has been found that could serve as a reactor vessel under high pressure. Scientist believe one day they will succeed and produce a clean, cheap energy source.