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How do you account for the release of a large amount of energy in a nuclear fission process?
- Andrew SmithLv 75 years agoFavorite Answer
You can only release energy that exists.
We discovered that energy existed by observing the mass defect and, using E = mc^2 realized that this meant there were large amounts of energy stored within the nucleus of various atoms.
As far as why the energy is large, the forces holding atoms together are very high.
And we know that energy =force * distance.
It is true that the distances in any one atom are very small. But because the distances are very small there are a very large number of the atoms in any given volume.
Hence a large force also implies a large amount of energy involved.
We can only get a miniscule fraction of the energy because the majority is already released millenia ago when the atoms were first formed.
The TOTAL binding energy is negative and is enormous.
What we can do is to INCREASE the binding energy slightly by a rearrangement of pieces and release those last little bits of energy that were not released when the atoms were formed.
- oldprofLv 75 years ago
When a heavy element is split into two or more lighter daughter elements, fission, there is a reduced number of bound nucleons as a result. And that means less of the strong atomic force is required to keep the daughter elements intact.
And that difference in the strong atomic forces before splitting and after splitting is called the mass deficiency, recognizing that's mass.energy as in e = mc^2. But per atom, that's not much energy barely measurable. But in a chain reaction and after 23 generations of splits in that chain, we have E = e 2^23 = 8.4 million e's going off concurrently. And that's a lot of energy.
- jeffrcalLv 75 years ago
I'm not sure I understand what you are asking.
The mass of the resulting atoms in a fission process is slightly less than the original atoms. The remaining mass is converted into energy in accordance with the famous formula: E = mc^2.