Radiation Protection Today Winter 2021 - Page 35

" " "

BACK TO BASICS

Do you know anyone who ' d like to learn a bit more about radiation ? These pull-out sheets are for this purpose .
FISSION VS FUSION – CREATING OUR ENERGY

Fission

Splits a larger atom into 2 or more smaller ones
All energy which is produced comes from basic chemical and physical processes such as burning fossil fuels or harnessing power from the sun , wind or water . Fission and fusion are physical processes that produce an incredible amount of energy from atoms ; they yield far more energy than any other source .
Fission is the splitting of uranium atoms to release energy . It creates radioactive waste via a number of different mechanisms . The used fuel is the most radioactive of the wastes generated and can remain radioactive for a very long time .
In comparison to fusion ( explained right ) fission is a more practical method to use at the moment for energy generation as it gives off more energy . As of 2020 , the UK has 13 operable nuclear reactors to generate electricity - with a combined net capacity of
9
7.8 GW ( 7.8x10 W or 7,800 million Watts ).

VS .

Fusion

Joins 2 or more lighter atoms into a larger one
Fusion combines hydrogen atoms to release energy . Hydrogen is used as it has a low atomic number making it light and favourable to fuse .
Fusion naturally occurs in stars , but it is a challenge to recreate this on Earth due to the extreme temperatures and pressures needed .
Waste products from fusion are helium and tritium . Tritium is radioactive , but the half-life of tritium is shorter than that of some byproducts of nuclear fission , meaning that the activity decreases more quickly . Activation of material by neutrons released during the fusion reaction produces additional radioactive wastes , but these are relatively short-lived .
Fusion is still being developed to be used without wasting too much energy . Currently the energy consumed is more than the fusion energy released .
Radiation Protection Today Winter 2021 35