• Question: What's the difference between nuclear fusion and nuclear fission

    Asked by phill to Akram, David, Gill, Jack, laurenceharwood on 16 Mar 2012.
    • Photo: Akram Alomainy

      Akram Alomainy answered on 16 Mar 2012:

      I leave this to the other scientists since they will be best to answer it 🙂

    • Photo: Jack Snape

      Jack Snape answered on 16 Mar 2012:

      Fission is splitting big atoms, like Uranium and fusion is sticking together small atoms, like hydrogen. You get lots of energy doing either of them.

      The problem with fission is the reaction can ‘runaway’ and get a meltdown but this can’t happen with fusion. Also, the products of fission are nasty radioactive things but the main product from fusing hydrogen is helium 🙂

    • Photo: Gill Menzies

      Gill Menzies answered on 18 Mar 2012:

      As Jack says Fusion is sticking atoms together, while Fission is splitting them apart. We are quite good a Fission now and many countries make most of their electricity this way (France for instance). The problem of Fission is the harmful waste that is produced – this poses very serious health problems to people, animals and plants if not dealt with properly – but this is where Laurence’s research is very exciting.

    • Photo: Laurence Harwood

      Laurence Harwood answered on 19 Mar 2012:

      Same answer as Jack. In nuclear fission we split large elements such as uranium and plutonium (specifically U-235 and Pu-241) to get energy whereas with fusion we push together hydrogen atoms to make helium.