Name: Kerstin B.
How do scientists contain the explosion when splitting atoms?
In scientific studies there is no "explosion" per se, as occurs in a bomb.
There is the creation of numerous atoms and sub-atomic particles and energetic
electromagnetic radiation (e.g. X-rays to name just one). These are contained
by shielding -- that absorb these particles. The substances used as shields
depends upon what fission products are. Lead, water and other materials are
typical shield materials. The heat that is generated is absorbed by the
shields that may/or may not connected to a heat exchanger.
The fission reaction releases a lot of energy, which is absorbed by the
matter in the area (air, the device, surrounding earth). This causes the
absorbing toms and molecules to move very fast and collide with nearby atoms
and molecules. The end result is a great increase in temperature and a
tremendous expansion, which is an explosion.
Richard E. Barrans Jr., Ph.D.
PG Research Foundation, Darien, Illinois
Click here to return to the Physics Archives
Update: June 2012