Department of Energy Argonne National Laboratory Office of Science NEWTON's Homepage NEWTON's Homepage
NEWTON, Ask A Scientist!
NEWTON Home Page NEWTON Teachers Visit Our Archives Ask A Question How To Ask A Question Question of the Week Our Expert Scientists Volunteer at NEWTON! Frequently Asked Questions Referencing NEWTON About NEWTON About Ask A Scientist Education At Argonne Fission Elements
Name: Chad
Status: student
Age: 18
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: 1999 


Question:
What nuclear elements are used in fission?


Replies:
Elements much heavier than iron produce energy when split apart.

Elements much lighter than iron produce energy when fused together.

Tim Mooney


Basically, any heavy nucleus (I'm not exactly sure where the cutoff is - certainly, any nucleus heavier than lead) can release energy upon fission. There are only three nuclei, however, that can be used to generate nuclear power in conventional nuclear reactors, or to make nuclear weapons. These are the fissile nuclei, those that undergo fission upon absorption of thermal (slow) neutrons. These nuclei are uranium-233, uranium-235, and plutonium-239.

Richard E. Barrans Jr., Ph.D.



Click here to return to the Physics Archives

NEWTON is an electronic community for Science, Math, and Computer Science K-12 Educators, sponsored and operated by Argonne National Laboratory's Educational Programs, Andrew Skipor, Ph.D., Head of Educational Programs.

For assistance with NEWTON contact a System Operator (help@newton.dep.anl.gov), or at Argonne's Educational Programs

NEWTON AND ASK A SCIENTIST
Educational Programs
Building 360
9700 S. Cass Ave.
Argonne, Illinois
60439-4845, USA
Update: June 2012
Weclome To Newton

Argonne National Laboratory