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Difference between Nuclear Fission and Nuclear Fusion

Main Difference

Nuclear fission and nuclear fission refers to different kinds of atomic reaction that generates energy. The main difference between nuclear fission and nuclear fusion is that nuclear fission means splitting of a nucleus of an atom into two or more smaller parts. Nuclear fusion means the fusing of two or more lighter atomic nuclei to form a new type of atomic nucleus.

Nuclear Fission

nuclear-fissionAccording to nuclear physics and nuclear chemistry, nuclear fission is a nuclear reaction or a radioactive or nuclear decay process that results in the splitting of a nucleus of an atom into smaller parts or lighter nuclei. The fission process generates free neutrons and photos in the shape of gamma rays and also emits a large quantity of energy even by the energetic standards of radioactive decay. The first nuclear fission of heavy elements was discovered in December 17, 1938 by German Otto Hahn. Nuclear fission is a form of nuclear transmutation as the resulting fragments are not the same element as the original atom. Most nuclear fissions are binary fissions that produces two charged fragments but sometimes these produces 2 to 4 times charges fragments per 1000 events as can be observed in case of ternary fission in which three positively charged fragments are generated.

Nuclear Fusion

nuclear-fusionNuclear fusion is a nuclear reaction in which two or more atomic nuclei come close to generate a new type of atomic nucleus when they collide at a very high speed. During the whole process, matter is not conserved as come the matter of fusing nuclei is converted to photons. It is the process that powers active or main sequence stars. The fusion of two nuclei with lower masses than iron generally releases energy, while the fusion of two nuclei with heavier masses than iron generally absorbs energy. Fusion reactions of light elements power the stars and produce virtually all elements in a process called nucleosynthesis. The fusion of lighter elements in stars releases energy and the mass that always accompanies it. The method for achieving fusion includes: thermonuclear fusion, inertial confinement fusion, inertial electrostatic confinement, beam-beam or beam-target fusion, muon-catalyzed fusion, antimatter-initialized fusion, hybrid nuclear fusion-fusion, etc.

Key Differences

  • Nuclear fission means splitting of a nucleus of an atom into two or more smaller parts. Nuclear fusion means the fusing of two or more lighter atomic nuclei to form a new type of atomic nucleus.
  • Nuclear fusion is a natural process as it occurs in stars and suns while nuclear fission doesn’t occur naturally.
  • Nuclear fission produces many highly radioactive particles as compare to nuclear fusion.
  • Both nuclear physics and nuclear chemistry deals in nuclear fission while nuclear fusion is only dealt by nuclear physics.
  • Very little energy is required to split to atoms in a fission reaction while extremely high energy is required in case of nuclear fusion.
  • Uranium act as a fuel in nuclear fission while hydrogen isotopes like deuterium, and tritium are used as primary fuel in nuclear fusion.
  • The energy released during nuclear fusion is three to four times greater than the energy released during nuclear fission.

Video Explanation

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