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Energy Generation and Nuclear Fission

The most famous equation in all of the natural sciences is probably:

E = mc^2

Derived by Albert Einstein at the beginning of the 20th century it summarizes the equivalence of energy (E) and mass (M) . That c^2 is so large (c^2 is the speed of light of light (3.0 x 10^8 m/s) squared, 9.0 x 10^16 m^2/s^2 means that a tremendous amount of energy can be obtained from a small of matter.

For this explain how equation applies to nuclear fission. In your answer illustrate your explanation with an example, being sure to distinguish between mass and mass number, and explain how a nuclear equation differs from a chemical equation. In addition compare the energy released during fission with energy produced from a typical chemical reaction (such as fossil fuel oxidation). It may be useful for you to consider that the combustion of methane releases 50.1 kJ/g- how much mass is lost to produce 50.1 kJ?

Solution Preview

Please see the attached file.

The total energy release in a fission event may be calculated from the difference in the
rest masses of the reactants (e.g., 235U + n) and the final stable products (e.g., 93Nb + 141Pr + 2n). The energy equivalent of this mass difference is given by the Einstein relation, E = mc2.

For example, the rest mass of a nucleus of uranium-235 is slightly larger than the
combined rest masses of ...

Solution Summary

This solution provides a detailed explanation of what E=MC^2 is and its connection to nuclear fission.