Electromagnetic Radiation Produced During Fission


by miniconfusion
Tags: electromagnetic, fission, produced, radiation
miniconfusion
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#1
Mar23-12, 05:51 PM
P: 4
In a nuclear reactor, what kind of energy is produced when the radioactive isotopes go through fission? How much of it is in the form of electromagnetic waves? Are the waves mostly in the UV and Gamma Ray region of the electromagnetic spectrum?
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mathman
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#2
Mar23-12, 07:39 PM
Sci Advisor
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The energy is primarily in the form of Gamma rays.

Following from Wikipedia:

Typical fission events release about two hundred million eV (200 MeV) of energy for each fission event. By contrast, most chemical oxidation reactions (such as burning coal or TNT) release at most a few eV per event. So, nuclear fuel contains at least ten million times more usable energy per unit mass than does chemical fuel. The energy of nuclear fission is released as kinetic energy of the fission products and fragments, and as electromagnetic radiation in the form of gamma rays; in a nuclear reactor, the energy is converted to heat as the particles and gamma rays collide with the atoms that make up the reactor and its working fluid, usually water or occasionally heavy water.

When a uranium nucleus fissions into two daughter nuclei fragments, about 0.1 percent of the mass of the uranium nucleus[4] appears as the fission energy of ~200 MeV. For uranium-235 (total mean fission energy 202.5 MeV), typically ~169 MeV appears as the kinetic energy of the daughter nuclei, which fly apart at about 3% of the speed of light, due to Coulomb repulsion. Also, an average of 2.5 neutrons are emitted, each with a kinetic energy of ~2 MeV (total of 4.8 MeV). The fission reaction also releases ~7 MeV in prompt gamma ray photons. The latter figure means that a nuclear fission explosion or criticality accident emits about 3.5% of its energy as gamma rays, less than 2.5% of its energy as fast neutrons (total ~ 6%), and the rest as kinetic energy of fission fragments (this appears almost immediately when the fragments impact surrounding matter, as simple heat). In an atomic bomb, this heat may serve to raise the temperature of the bomb core to 100 million kelvin and cause secondary emission of soft X-rays, which convert some of this energy to ionizing radiation. However, in nuclear reactors, the fission fragment kinetic energy remains as low-temperature heat, which itself causes little or no ionization.


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