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Nuclear fusion and binding energy

  1. Apr 17, 2006 #1
    I wonder if someone could help me out. I'm a bit confused about how fusion (and fission for that matter) releases energy.

    Looking at a graph of binding energy per nucleon against mass number, fusion gives out energy up to iron (correct?). The thing that confuses me is that as two nuclei are fused to make a heavier nuclei, the binding energy per nucleon INCREASES.

    So if the binding energy of the product is greater than the binding energy of the two original nuclei, would that not require energy rather than release energy? So for example if there is more binding energy in a helium nucleus than in a dueterium nucleus and a tritum nucleus, energy energy would need to be input to increase that binding energy.

    So i'm not sure where i've gone wrong. It is probably very obvious to you, so please help!
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 17, 2006 #2


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    In the case of fusion, sum the masses of the parent nuclei and compare to the mass of the daughter nucleus. The difference is the energy release. For fission, essentially the same, except that there is one parent and several daughters, including neutrons.
  4. Apr 18, 2006 #3

    Meir Achuz

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    BE per nucleon is not what determines fusion energies.
    It is as mm says.
  5. Apr 18, 2006 #4
    Binding energy is what you have to put IN to break the bond apart.
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