so nuclear reactors generate power by splitting atoms but what actually splits these atoms?

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so nuclear reactors generate power by splitting atoms but what actually splits these atoms?

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An atom randomly releases a neutron. That neutron hits another atom and makes it unstable. It splits releasing energy and more neutrons. Those neutrons carry on the chain reaction

Some atoms are unstable and so naturally want to fall apart. An example of such an atom is Uranium. When an unstable atom like Uranium falls apart, it releases energy/neutrons. This natural release of energy is what we call “radioactivity”.

So if you pile up a whole bunch of Uranium together, some atoms will randomly decay releasing neutrons. These neutrons can then strike other uranium atoms, causing THOSE to split apart, releasing more neutrons and thus perpetuating the cycle of splitting atoms.

Now, it is a little bit more complicated than that. It’s a misconception that the neutrons “shatter” the atoms upon impact. What actually happens is that the neutron is absorbed by a Uranium atom, making it even MORE unstable and thus more likely to naturally decay. This is why (if you’ve ever seen the TV show “Chernobyl” they kept referring to the graphite as a “neutron flux moderator”. The graphite *slows down* (moderates) the neutrons released from decayed Uranium nuclei, making them *more likely* to be absorbed by other Uranium atoms.

Watch uranium chasing the dragons tale it’s a good show and explains how uranium is unstable meaning it is in a constant state of decay changing into new elements each time these atoms decay or loose protons and neutrons cesium is one of the daughter’s of uranium and cesium 137 is very unstable by adding a single proton to it you cause it to split apart into two different elements loosing part of the original mass in the process by shooting off extra protons. This also creates heat. Someone had the diabolical idea to put a bunch of it together and then it causes a chain reaction splitting other atoms untill you get a nuclear detonation. Someone figured out that different elemental daughter’s of uranium could be harnessed and controlled in a fission process and the much more controlled and slower reaction moderated by things like graphite we can create steam and turn turbines to make power. Instead of blowing up.

Short answer is idk but adding a proton makes them split and shoot off extra protons that cause chain reactions 1 hits two two hits 4. 4 hits well you get it we can controll this reaction in fission process with reactors

Radioactive fuel can be arranged in such away that it reacts with itself and releases more radiation than under normal circumstances. The radiation heats water which turns into steam which is used to spin turbines which generate electricity

Take an atom of uranium-235 — a nearly-stable isotope. Hit it with a slow-moving neutron, which it absorbs, becoming an atom of U-236, in an excited state. One time in seven, it releases some energy, and settles down to becoming another nearly-stable atom. But the other six times….

The positively-charged protons in an atomic nuclei want to escape from each other, driven by their mutual electrical repulsion. However, the protons and neutrons are held together by the strong nuclear force. Large nuclei can be in such an excited state that, instead of spherical, they become oval-shaped. From there, they can loose energy by splitting — fissioning — into two smaller nuclei. The lost energy shows up as the two halves speeding away from each other, plus a few neutrons doing the same. These two new atoms interact with other atoms, raising the temperature of the general environment.