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College Physics

1st Edition
Paul Peter Urone + 1 other
ISBN: 9781938168000

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BuyFindarrow_forward

College Physics

1st Edition
Paul Peter Urone + 1 other
ISBN: 9781938168000
Textbook Problem

What are some of the reasons that plutonium rather than uranium is used in all fission bombs and as the trigger in all fusion bombs?

To determine

The reasons that explain why plutonium rather than uranium is used in all fission bombs and as the trigger in all fusion bombs.

Explanation

Introduction:

Nuclear bombs release tremendous amount of energy by the processes of fission and fusion. These two processes progress by means of uncontrolled chain reaction. Two of the popular nuclear fuels for atomic bombs are U235 and P239u . Thermonuclear bombs are fusion bombs which use fuels such as tritium, deuterium or lithium deuterate.

1. Uranium undergoes fission in many ways, one of which is given below:

  U235+nS95r+X139e+2n+180 MeV

At an average, the fission of U235 is found to result in the release of 2.4 neutrons and energy of 192.9 MeV per fission.

In a similar fashion, one of the fission reactions of P239u is given below:

  P239u+nX134e+Z103r+3n+207 MeV

On an average, the fission of P239u is found to result in the release of 2.9 neutrons and energy of 198.5 MeV per fission.

Hence, it can be seen that plutonium releases more neutrons and more energy per fission.

2. The major isotope that exists in uranium ores is U238 , which is not a fissile nucleus. The fissile nuclei of U235 is present in very small numbers and the fuel needs to be enriched to have larger quantities of U235 . Plutonium, on the other hand, exists only in traces in earth but can be easily produced as a byproduct of fission in nuclear reactors.

The non-fissile U238 nuclei are converted into Plutonium in reactors called breeder reactors

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