Where does all the energy come from in a nuclear explosion?

Since energy can neither be created or destroyed, where is this huge amount of energy being transferred from? Is it do with with splitting of the atom? Why does this release energy? How does an atomic/hydrogen/nuclear bomb work, and what are their differences?

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6 Responses to “Where does all the energy come from in a nuclear explosion?”

  1. Rick said:

    This guy explains it well.

  2. John de Witt said:

    All that energy basically comes from the residual strong force. That’s only a tiny part of the residual strong forces within the material, and the residual force is only a tiny fraction of all the forces within the atomic structure. Mind-boggling, isn’t it?

  3. . said:

    Einstein related mass and energy in his famous equation E = mc². The nucleus of an atom contains a lot of energy in the form of concentrated mass. During the late nineteen thirties it was discovered that neutrons could be used to split uranium nuclei into much lighter nuclei. This splitting of an actinide nuclei by neutrons was called fission and it was found that each fission of a uranium nucleus liberated about 200 Mev of energy and at least two extra neutrons. It was soon suggested that the extra neutrons could be used to set off a chain reaction if they were trapped within a uranium sample. Such a chain reaction could be used as an explosive weapon or controlled to provide energy for peaceful use.

    As world war II commenced, a number of theorists and engineers, around the world, set out to harness nuclear chain reaction energy both in the form of reactors and explosively as a weapon. A second fissile element was discovered Pu239 or plutonium and it was rapidly bred in the new reactors for weapons use. A secret atomic weapons project called the Manhattan project exploded the first nuclear weapon in 1945. ‘… Trinity was the first test of technology for an atomic weapon. It was conducted by the United States on July 16, 1945, at a location 35 miles (56 km) southeast of Socorro, New Mexico on the White Sands Proving Ground, headquartered near Alamogordo. Trinity was a test of an implosion-design plutonium device. The weapon’s codename was “The Gadget”. Using the same conceptual design, the Fat Man device was dropped on Nagasaki, Japan, on August 9. The Trinity detonation was equivalent to the explosion of around 20 kilotons of TNT and is usually considered the beginning of the Atomic Age. …(Wikipedia)’

    This test was of one of two weapon designs developed during the Manhattan Project’s research. The implosion device is essentially the modern design and it works by having explosives spherically, compress a natural uranium tamper (about 50 kg in mass) onto a plutonium ‘pit’ (about 5 -7 kg in mass), which is machined as two hemispheres. At the core of the pit is a neutron source that releases neutrons during the implosion created by the explosives. As the device detonates the plutonium is compressed to a critical mass and neutrons are injected from the core. The tamper holds the detonation together for just long enough for a fission chain reaction to build up. A simple calculation shows that if even 1% of the plutonium nuclei released fission energy the the energy released by 5 kg pit would be: –

    1 x 5 .. x 6.022 x 10 ²³ x 200 x 10⁶ x 1.601 x 10¯¹⁹ = 4.037 x 10¹² J of energy
    __ _____
    100 0.239

    this is close to a kiloton of TNT in explosive power.

    A much more efficient implosion weapon can yield between .3 kilotons and 100 kilotons of TNT explosive power.

    The hydrogen bomb is triggered by a ‘primary’ fission bomb, which yields X-rays that are used to ‘cook’ and pressurise a fuel chamber of Li6D (lithium-6 Deuteride). The neutrons from the ‘primary’ bomb, then, fission the lithium-6 into tritium nuclei, which under the high pressure and temperature conditions, undergo fusion with the deuterium nuclei to yield about 17.6 Mev of energy per Li + D fusion reaction. The energy released, per individual reaction, in fusion is less than that released in fission at 17.6 Mev to 200 Mev. However, with a fusion bomb it is possible to explode far more fuel than with the ‘critical mass’ dependent fission weapons. Thus, ‘hydrogen’ bombs can yield mega-tonnes of TNT explosive power.

  4. Carole Zamor said:

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