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Potential energy. What is it?

Potential energy. What is it?

In physics, potential energy is the energy an object possesses because of its position in a force field or that a system has because of the configuration of its parts.

There are many types of potential energy, but the most common are:

  • Gravitational potential energy that depends on the vertical position and mass of an object.
  • Elastic potential energy of an extended spring
  • Electric potential energy of a charge in an electric field.

The unit of measurement of the International System of Units for Energy is the joule (J).

Potential energy is associated with forces acting on a body in such a way that this depends only on the position of the…

Last review: September 1, 2017

What is nuclear energy

What is nuclear energy

Nuclear energy is the energy in the nucleus of an atom. Atoms are the smallest particles that can break a material. At the core of each atom there are two types of particles (neutrons and protons) that are held together. Nuclear energy is the energy that holds neutrons and protons.

Nuclear energy can be used to produce electricity. This energy can be obtained in two ways: nuclear fusion and nuclear fission. In nuclear fusion, energy is released when atoms are combined or fused together to form a larger atom. The sun produces energy like this. In nuclear fission, atoms are split into smaller atoms, releasing energy. Actually, nuclear power plants can only use nuclear fission to produce…

Last review: August 31, 2017

Sievert. What is it?

Sievert. What is it?

Sievert is a unit derived from the dose of ionizing radiation in the International System of Units. It is represented by the symbol Sv. It is a measure of the effect on health health of low levels of ionizing radiation in the human body. The sievert is of fundamental importance in dosimetry and protection against radiation.

The name of sievert is due to the Swedish medical physicist Rolf Maximilian Sievert for his work in the measurement of the dose of radiation and the investigation of the biological effects of the radiation.

Quantities measured in sieverts are intended to represent stochastic risk for health, which for radiation dose assessment is defined as the likelihood of…

Last review: August 30, 2017

Kinetic energy. What is it?

Kinetic energy. What is it?

Kinetic energy is the energy contained in a body due to being in motion. The kinetic energy is the amount of work needed to accelerate a body of a given mass to a certain speed (linear or rotational). This energy obtained during acceleration will remain unchanged as long as this body does not change its speed.

In classical mechanics, the linear kinetic energy (without rotation) of an object of mass m traveling at velocity v is ½ · m · v2. In relativistic mechanics it is a good approximation only when the speed is much less than the speed of light.

The unit of measure of kinetic energy in the international system of units is joule (J).

Power…

Last review: August 30, 2017

Atomic nucleus - Definition and properties

Atomic nucleus - Definition and properties

The atomic nucleus is the small central part of the atom, with a positive electric charge and in which most of the mass of the atom is concentrated. Ernest Ruthenford discovered it in 1911. After the discovery of the neutron, in 1932, the atomic nucleus model was quickly developed by Dmitri Ivanenko and Werner Heisenberg.

The major subatomic particles in the nuclei of atoms are protons and neutrons or nucleons (except ordinary hydrogen, which contains only one proton). A single chemical element is characterized by the number of protons in the nucleus that determines the total positive charge. This number is called the atomic number. The mass number is the total of protons and neutrons.

Nuclear…

Last review: August 30, 2017

Atomic number. What is it?

Atomic number. What is it?

The atomic number is a physical and chemical concept related to the structure of the atoms of each element. The total number of protons (elementary positive charges) of the nucleus of a given atom is treated. It is represented by the letter Z. The conventional symbol Z possibly comes from the German word Z ahl which means number.

The atomic number is used to classify elements within the periodic table of elements.

The sum of the atomic number Z and the number of neutrons N gives the mass number A of an atom. Atoms with the same atomic number Z, but different numbers of neutrons N, and therefore different atomic masses, are known as isotopes.

The search for new elements…

Last review: August 30, 2017

Uranium - nuclear fuel

Uranium - nuclear fuel

Uranium is the most commonly used nuclear fuel in nuclear fission reactions. It is a natural element that can be found in nature. However, in order to be able to use uranium in a nuclear reactor it must undergo some treatment.

To know the peculiarities that make uranium so different from the other substances we must first consider some basic nuclear physics.

Basic physical considerations of uranium

An atom of a nucleus and electrons surrounding this nucleus. In turn, a nucleus consists of protons and neutrons. A proton has a positive charge. A neutron has no electric charge and is neutral.

The positive charges of the protons try to push violently outwards. What…

Last review: August 29, 2017

Operation of a nuclear power plant

Operation of a nuclear power plant

Nowadays, the main use given to nuclear energy is the generation of electric power. Nuclear power plants are responsible of doing this process. Almost all nuclear power plants in production are using nuclear fission since the nuclear fusion, despite being under development, is currently unfeasible.

The operation of a nuclear power plant is identical to the operation of a thermoelectric power plant operating with coal, oil or gas, except in the way of providing heat to the water for converting this one into steam. In nuclear reactors this process of producing heat is made by the fission reactions of the fuel atoms. 

90% of nuclear power reactors in the world, or in…

Last review: June 28, 2017

Boiling Water Reactor

Boiling Water Reactor

A boiling water reactor or BWR (the English boiling water reactor) is a type of nuclear reactor. It is the second most widely used type of reactor in nuclear power plants in the world. Approximately 22% of the nuclear reactors installed in the different nuclear power plants use the boiling water reactor.

The most important feature of the Boiling Water Reactor (BWR) is to use pressurized water as a moderator for neutrons and as a core refrigerant. Unlike the pressurized water reactor (PWR), there is no steam generator.

Operation of a Boiling Water Reactor (BWR)

The boiling water reactor uses a single light water cooling circuit (this is ordinary water, in nuclear power…

Last review: June 20, 2017

Pressurized Water Reactors

Pressurized Water Reactors

The pressurized water nuclear reactor is the type of nuclear reactor more used worldwide in the nuclear power plants of generation of electricity. At present, there are more than 230 nuclear reactors in the world made with the pressurized water system. Also known by its abbreviations PW. Its main feature is the use of water under high pressure in the primary circuit to prevent it from boiling.

Within the naval engineering the pressurized water nuclear reactor (PWR) is widely used. In fact, this model was originally designed to be used on a nuclear submarine.

Pressurized water reactors use enriched uranium as a nuclear fuel.

Operation of the pressurized water nuclear…

Last review: June 16, 2017

Current situation in Chernobyl

Current situation in Chernobyl

The recovery of the accident area and cleaning products has resulted in a large amount of radioactive waste and contaminated equipment, stored at about 800 different sites inside and outside the 30 km exclusion zone around the nuclear reactor 4 from Chernobyl.

These nuclear wastes are partially stored in containers or buried in trenches, which may lead to a risk of contamination of groundwater.

The sarcophagus and the proliferation of waste storage sites have been assessed as a source of hazardous radioactivity in nearby areas, and some NEA experts feared that the sinking of the failed reactor would cause serious damage to the only operating reactor Until 15 December 2000, the…

Last review: May 25, 2017