Gerri R asked in Science & MathematicsChemistry · 10 years ago

What is the difference between a Nuclear power plant and an Atomic power plant?

What is the difference between a Nuclear power plant and an Atomic power plant?

I know a Nuclear bomb uses Fusion and an Atomic bomb uses Fission, those are totally opposite principals.

Fission is the splitting of atoms and Fusion is fusing two atoms together to make one larger atom.

However, people say that both Nuclear and Atomic power plants use Uranium and Plutonium and they also use Fission and not Fission.

A Nuclear bomb also uses Hydrogen and not Uranium.

So What makes a Nuclear power plant different than an atomic plant, if they use the same materials and the same principle of Fission and not Fusion?

What makes one any different or better than the other?

Doesn't an ATOMIC plant use a particle accelerator and a Nuke plant use a Nuclear reactor?

What is the SCIENTIFIC explanation (In layman's terms please)?

3 Answers

  • 10 years ago
    Favorite Answer

    There is no difference at all between a ‘nuclear’ and an ‘atomic’ power plant. They are one and the same thing.

    When describing power plants, the term ‘nuclear’ is more widely used these days, and is more descriptive of the reaction which produces the energy - a nuclear reaction. However, for historical reasons, the term ‘atomic’ has lingered in the vocabulary. For example, the body created in the 1950‘s to pursue the "safe, secure and peaceful uses of nuclear sciences and technology" is the I.A.E.A. - the International Atomic Energy Agency, which reports directly to the United Nations and the Security Council. Various countries have their own Atomic Energy Commission which oversees nuclear industry standards. In the U.S. the body that ensures compliance with safety standards used to be called U.S. Atomic Energy Commission (A.E.C.), but it was renamed in 1975 as the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (N.R.C.).

    As you stated, all nuclear power plants use fuel rods made of uranium, plutonium, uranium oxide or other fissile material. The energy released during this nuclear fission is harnessed to generate steam which drives turbines.

    The first nuclear weapons, produced in the 1940’s, relied on uncontrolled nuclear fission for their effect. To distinguish them from conventional weapons, which rely on chemical reactions, they were widely referred to at the time as ‘atomic bombs’: an unfortunate name, since it gives no indication that it is the nucleus of the atom that’s involved, rather than the electrons.

    Later weapons, developed in the early ’50’s, used the nuclear fusion of isotopes of hydrogen to release energy. These weapons were called ‘hydrogen bombs’ - another misleading name. To achieve the temperatures and pressures necessary for the fusion reaction to proceed, a ‘hydrogen bomb’ had to incorporate a uranium or plutonium fission bomb which, on detonation, created the necessary conditions for fusion. In turn, the neutrons released during the fusion helped to accelerate further fission reactions.

    Any weapon that relies on a nuclear reaction, be it fission or a fission/fusion combination, is a nuclear weapon, often referred to as a ‘thermonuclear device’.

    At the present time, the difficulties in producing a sustained and controlled fusion reaction mean that this technology is still - after more than 50 years of effort - at the research stage. All current commercial nuclear reactors are fission reactors.

    Particle accelerators are research tools which provide information about nuclear and sub-nuclear structure and changes. Although they can produce collisions which release energy, they are not used in any commercial power-generation context.

    I think that covers all the points you mentioned in your question. In summary: ‘nuclear’ is the preferred term, but ‘nuclear’ and ‘atomic’ are still unfortunately used by non-scientists as synonyms. There’s no difference whatsoever between ‘nuclear energy’ and ‘atomic energy’.

  • Paula
    Lv 4
    4 years ago

    Both fusion and fission are nuclear processes. So both are nuclear weapons. "Atomic" power plant is a misnomer, it is a nuclear power plant, because it generates electricity by fission of nuclei. Particle accelerators aren't necessary in nuclear power plants.

  • Anonymous
    10 years ago

    nuclear- this would be harnessing power from the simplifying of a complex element. such as polonium. this element is unstable, therfore it emits radiation. this radiation helps with the process of creating the energy. when polonium is dipped into water, it reacts violently and the water gets REALLY hot. the water alos acts as a cooling agent. this water makes steam, and there ya go, power source.

    atomic-it would be harnessing the power of an atomic explosion (splitting of an atom) which right now isn't possible

    Source(s): i know everything
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