Nuclear Energy

The nuclear energy is the large amount of energy that can be released from a small mass of active material. The first nuclear power plant in India was located at Tarapur. The primary fuel used in nuclear power plants is Uranium ( U235). The isotopes of uranium are U234, U235 and U238, but U235 is mostly used. The secondary fuel used in nuclear power plants is Uranium (U233) and Plutonium (Pu239). U233 is produced when thorium is irradiated by neutrons and Pu239 is produced when U238 is irradiated by neutrons. The percentage composition of these naturally occurring isotopes in natural uranium are given as follows:

U234 = 0.006% ; U235 = 0.712 % ; and U238 = 99.282 %.

The nuclear energy is generally represented by electron volt (ev) or million electron volt (Mev), such that


The energy released from uranium fission is about 200 million electron volt. It may be noted that

(a) Each fission of U235 produces on the average 2.46 fast neutrons as a product of reaction.

(b) A fission chain reaction in uranium can be developed by increasing the contents of U235 and by slowing down fast neutrons so that U235 fission continues by slow neutron.

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