How Does Fission Work?
How Does a Fusion Energy Tank Work?
“The reactor uses the energy of a nuclear pulse—a burst of neutrons from the core of the reactor—to push a fuel-graphite rod into a storage container. The high energy of this blast creates shock waves high above the reactor core, which compress the fuel and cause it to fission—the chain reaction that converts uranium into nuclear fuel.”
For a detailed explanation, see How Does the Fusion Energy Work?
“In the conventional fuel used for regular nuclear power plants, the fuel consists of uranium metal (U-233) mixed with water, which creates a fissile chain reaction—a nuclear explosion—by allowing neutrons to strike nuclei to ignite the fuel. The heat given off by this reaction drives a turbine, which converts solar energy into electricity. Fission is considered energy-intensive, but the energy produced is of the same order of magnitude as that from nuclear energy. In contrast, fusion is energy-dense enough to operate on its own.
“In the nuclear-fission reaction, a fission chain reaction produces two new isotopes of uranium called 235U and 238U. One 235U nucleus is passed through the center of a spherical neutron source containing water and uranium, creating a chain reaction. The neutron produced by this chain reaction travels about five times further than the neutrons they’re designed to intercept in a normal nuclear chain reaction, which would lead to a thermal explosion. However, by traveling at relativistic speeds, many of these extra neutrons can bypass the spherical neutron source and directly strike nuclei nearby. This is where the “fusion” part of the process comes in. This process involves a fusion of fission products, or neutrons, with neutrons from fissionable uranium, converting the uranium into the fusion fuel.”
For how long it takes for the fuel to get hot enough to fuse (which is called fission), see Fuel Loading.
“In a conventional fission reactor, the water is used to cool the uranium metal with a cooling tower, giving a relatively low temperature, and then the uranium is mixed with carbon to make U-235. The carbon is used to make carbon and boron isotopes of uranium into the fissionable isotopes needed to make a nuclear reactor. With these fissile isotopes, a reactor’s output of electricity can be
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