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Nuclear Installations Safety
Devoted specifically to the safety of nuclear installations and the health and safety of the public, this division seeks a better understanding of the role of safety in the design, construction and operation of nuclear installation facilities. The division also promotes engineering and scientific technology advancement associated with the safety of such facilities.
2020 ANS Virtual Winter Meeting
November 16–19, 2020
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Nuclear Science and Engineering
Fusion Science and Technology
Missouri S&T’s nuclear engineering program gains department status
Missouri S&T’s pool-type nuclear reactor. Photo: Sam O’Keefe/Missouri S&T
Sixty years ago, the Missouri University of Science and Technology (Missouri S&T), then known as the University of Missouri at Rolla, was one of the first U.S. institutions to offer a nuclear engineering degree. Now, decades after it was offered as an option within metallurgical engineering, Missouri S&T’s nuclear program has attained new status as the Nuclear Engineering and Radiation Science Department, the university announced on October 20.
If the nucleus of a heavy atom–such as uranium–absorbs a neutron, the nucleus can become unstable and split. This is called nuclear fission. Fission releases energy in the form of heat. Although fission can occur naturally, fission as encountered in the modern world is usually a deliberate man-made nuclear reaction.
Typical fission events release about two hundred million eV (200 MeV) of energy. In contrast, most chemical oxidation reactions (such as burning coal) 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.
Fusion is the opposite reaction of fission. In fusion, atoms are fused together.For a fusion reaction to occur, it is necessary to bring two nuclei so close that nuclear forces become active and glue the nuclei together. Deuterium and Tritium, isotopes of hydrogen, are used in fusion reactors. Nuclear forces are small-distance forces and have to act against the electrostatic forces where positively charged nuclei repel each other. This is the reason nuclear fusion reactions occur mostly in high density, high temperature environment.
Recreating that environment is the greatest challenge to producing commercial scale fusion energy, but it’s a challenge well worth pursuing. Nuclear fusion can produce four times the amount of energy as nuclear fission.
Last modified April 14, 2020, 11:29pm CDT