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Homework Help: Fission or Fussion on Lead to release energy?

  1. Aug 15, 2014 #1
    How is Lead being used in a nuclear power plant, is it done by the fission process or fussion? No equations are needed as this is an introductionary question into the atomic structures.

    Are the stable atoms unable to undergo fission/fussion?

    Please explain to me, how do I know if fission or fussion can release energy from a substance
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 15, 2014 #2


    Staff: Mentor

  4. Aug 15, 2014 #3


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    I won't say that "stable atoms" are not able to under go fission or fusion, but the energy required to make them fission or fusion is far greater than that would be gotten out of such a reaction. Lead is used to slow down and stop a fission or fusion reaction.
  5. Aug 15, 2014 #4
    I'm not sure if I entirely understand this but, can only heavy nucleus like Lead be processed through fission, and smaller nucleus through fusion as they combine? In that case Lead is fusion? Where's the limit on the amounts of protons/neutrons in that case?
  6. Aug 15, 2014 #5


    Staff: Mentor

    When you look at the nuclear binding energy you can see that fusing hydrogen releases energy and that fissioning unranium releases energy. In between on the graph is iron and several other elements where fusion nor fission will release much if any energy and in fact you have to put energy into the act.

    Heavy elements are created in supernova stars because they can put in the energy to fuse elements greater than iron-56 and thats how uranium and others were created.

  7. Aug 15, 2014 #6


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    The OP's question asked how lead is used in a nuclear power plant. AFAIK, lead is not used as fuel, but for another essential purpose. Can anyone guess what this purpose is?

    Currently, there are no fusion power plants operating in the world.
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