What is Fission and How Does It Work?


Nuclear energy facilities work much like any other power station that uses heat and steam to generate electricity. The main difference is the type of fuel used to produce heat.

While some plants use coal, gas or oil as the primary fuel source, many nuclear energy plants use uranium.

To generate heat inside the reactor, the operators introduce extra neutrons which cause the uranium atoms to split into smaller atoms. Each time one of these atoms splits (or "fissions"), more neutrons are released to split more atoms, creating a chain reaction. Trillions of uranium atoms fission each second in a nuclear reactor, generating large amounts of heat inside the reactor vessel, which is used to warm up water.

Learn more about uranium and the process that makes it suitable for use as fuel in nuclear reactors.

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