Heavy water can serve as a neutron moderator in a nuclear reactor, which slows down fast particles and encourages the fission reaction. Neutrons in a fission reaction travel either fast or slowly. The fast neutrons tend to be absorbed by certain isotopes of uranium rather than continuing the fission reaction, but the larger deuterium atoms in heavy water help slow down these fast neutrons, ensuring they continue the chain reaction.Continue Reading
Heavy water molecules are heavy because they contain deuterium. Ordinarily, the nucleus of a hydrogen atom consists of a single proton, but deuterium is an isotope of hydrogen that contains one neutron as well as one proton, vastly increasing the weight of the element and altering its atomic properties.
Heavy water reactors offer some advantages over those that use normal, or light, water as a neutron moderator. Heavy water allows the use of natural uranium as fuel, while light water reactors require enriched uranium, which is much more difficult to produce. Additionally, heavy water reactors can be used to convert natural uranium into weapons-grade material as part of the fission process, a potential threat to nuclear nonproliferation. For this reason, the import and export of large quantities of heavy water is regulated in many countries, and the international trade in heavy water is open to scrutiny.Learn more about Thermodynamics
Nuclear power is generated via a process known as fission in nuclear power plants that are designed to convert the latent heat of radioactive decay into electrical power. The fuel for the reaction is any of a number of radioactive elements, most commonly slightly enriched uranium.Full Answer >
Lise Meitner, an Austrian physicist, was part of a group that discovered nuclear fission. Together with Otto Hahn and Otto Frisch, she published this discovery in 1938. She also discovered the Auger effect, an emission process, in 1922.Full Answer >
Nuclear energy forms when atoms of uranium are split in a nuclear reactor through a process called fission. Small, hard ceramic particles containing uranium fuel are inserted into the reactor to produce steam, which turns the turbines in the reactor to produce electricity.Full Answer >
Heat conduction is the transfer of internal energy (microscopic kinetic and potential energy) from a region of higher temperature to one of lower temperature by the interaction of particles like atoms, molecules, ions or electrons in the intervening space. Conduction can only take place within an object or material or between two objects that are in direct or indirect contact with each other.Full Answer >