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Answer key.
1What is amu? What is its importance in nuclear physics?
The energy released by each neutron during fission process is called
nuclear energy which is measured in terms of amu.
The atomic mass unit [amu] is a unit of mass approximately equal to
1.66 x 10-24 kg. It is used to find the mass loss and nuclear binding
energy of any atom.
2What is called plum pudding?
Thompson proposed a model for the atom consisting of a positive
electrical field with electrons embedded into the field like plums
embedded in plum pudding. It is called plum pudding model of the
3What is nuclear binding energy/?
The energy released at the moment of combination of two nucleons
form nucleus of an atom is called binding energy.
4Define mass defect.
If two or more particles interact to combine together, then the total
mass of the system will decrease to be less than the sum of the
masses of the individual particles. The stronger the interaction
becomes, the more the mass will decrease. This decrease of the
mass of the system is called mass defect.
5What is meant by elastic scattering?
In an elastic scattering, the reaction between a neutron and a target
nucleus, there is no energy transferred into nuclear excitation.
Momentum and kinetic energy of the system are conserved
although there is usually some transfer of kinetic energy form the
neutron to the target nucleus. The target nucleus gains the amount
of kinetic energy that the neutron loses.
6. What are called fissile isotopes?
These fuels undergo fission process. When unstable heavy nuclear
is bombarded with neutrons, it splits into two fragments of approximately
equal mass. A large amount of heat is released during this fission
7. What are the conditions satisfied to sustain nuclear fission
1 The neutrons emitted in fission must have adequate energy to
cause fission of another nucleus.
2 The number of neutrons produced must be able not only to
sustain the fission process but also to increase the rate of fission.
3 The fission process must liberate the energy.
4 It must be possible to control the rate of energy liberation.

8. Distinguish between fission and nuclear fusion.

Nuclear fission
Nuclear fusion
It is the process of breaking
It is a process of fusing two light
a heavy nucleus with some
nuclei into single nucleus with
projectiles into two or more
the liberation of a large amount
light fragments with
of heat.
liberation of a large amount
of energy.
This process results in the
This process does not emit any
emission of radioactive rays. kind of radioactive rays.
This process takes place
This process takes place at very
spontaneously at ordinary
high temperature [nearly at
about 105 K].
The mass number and
The mass number and atomic
atomic number and atomic
number of the product is higher
number of the daughter
than that of the starting
elements [new elements] are elements.
considerably lower than that
of the parent nucleus.
This process gives rise to
This process does not give rise to
chain reaction.
chain reaction.
During nuclear fission,
During nuclear fusion, protons
neutrons are emitted.
are emitted.
Nuclear fission can be
Nuclear fusion cannot be
performed under controlled
performed under controlled
9. State the role of fuel fabrication in nuclear fuel cycle.
Nuclear fuel fabrication converts the enriched UF6 into fuel for
nuclear power reactors.
10. State the benefit of reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel.
Reprocessing enables recycling of the uranium and plutonium into
fresh fuel, and produces a significantly reduced amount of waste
[compared with treating all used fuel as waste].

11 a) (i).Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of nuclear power.

Nuclear energy, both from fission and fusion, offers a promising approach to
meeting the nation's energy needsan approach that may preserve jobs, raise
the standard of living, and alleviate the depletion of natural resources
including natural gas, petroleum, and coal.

Nuclear energy will also be required to provide electricity on the moon or

Mars and to propel space vehicles if we are to explore or colonize the solar
system. Since the discovery of fission 50 years ago, electricity is being
produced commercially in a several hundred billion-dollar industry.

Applications of radioactive tracers have been made in medicine, science, and

industry. Radiation from particle accelerators and materials made radioactive
in nuclear reactors are used worldwide to treat cancer and other diseases, to
provide power for satellite instrumentation, to preserve food, to sterilize
medical supplies, to search for faults in welds and piping, and to polymerize
Low energy plasmas are used in the manufacture of microelectronics
components and to improve the surface characteristics of materials.

High energy plasmas offer the possibility of a new energy source using
thermonuclear fusion. Because the breadth and rate of change in this field
requires that the nuclear engineer have a broad educational background.

Educate students in the fundamental subjects necessary for a career in nuclear

engineering, and prepare students for advanced education in it and related fields;
Educate students in the basics of instrumentation, design of laboratory techniques,
measurement, and data acquisition, interpretation and analysis;
Educate students in the methodology of design;
Provide and facilitate teamwork and multidisciplinary experiences throughout the

The nuclear engineer is concerned with the application of nuclear science and
technology for the benefit of humankind.
The safe, economic development of nuclear energy is a major area of activity
for the nuclear engineer. The nuclear engineer is also concerned with the uses
of radiation in medical diagnostics and therapy, preservation of food by
irradiation, and the uses of radiation in industry for improving products and
making measurements.

The nuclear engineer is prepared to design a nuclear power reactor, determine

how to operate a nuclear power plant most efficiently, and assist in the
evaluation of environmental factors in existing nuclear power plants.

With the rapidly expanding use of radiation in fields such as medical

diagnostics and therapy and food irradiation, there is continuous demand for
specialists in radiation protection and health physics.

The safe, long-term storage of nuclear waste is also a challenging technical

problem requiring engineers with knowledge of basic nuclear engineering.

Nuclear engineering includes the use of radiation in medicine for treatment

and diagnostics; design, development and operation of nuclear power
systems; numeric simulation of nuclear systems; health physics and radiation

biomedical engineering and radiation imaging; nondestructive examination

of materials and structures using radiation techniques; nuclear energy for
space power and propulsion; and using radiation in food processing, industrial
processing and manufacturing control.
1`1 a) (ii). Explain in nuclear binding energy? How is it

Whenever any type of energy is removed from a system, the mass associated with the
energy is also removed, and the system therefore loses mass.
This mass defect in the system may be simply calculated as m = E/c2, but use
of this formula in such circumstances has led to the false idea that mass has been
"converted" to energy.
This may be particularly the case when the energy (and mass) removed from the
system is associated with the binding energy of the system. In such cases, the
binding energy is observed as a "mass defect" or deficit in the new system and the
fact that the released energy is not easily weighed may cause its mass to be
The difference between the rest mass of a bound system and of the unbound parts
is the binding energy of the system, if this energy has been removed after binding.

For example, a water molecule weighs a little less than two free hydrogen atoms
and an oxygen atom; the minuscule mass difference is the energy that is needed to
split the molecule into three individual atoms (divided by c), and which was
given off as heat when the molecule formed (this heat had mass).

Likewise, a stick of dynamite in theory weighs a little bit more than the fragments
after the explosion, but this is true only so long as the fragments are cooled and
the heat removed.

In this case the mass difference is the energy/heat that is released when the
dynamite explodes, and when this heat escapes, the mass associated with it
escapes, only to be deposited in the surroundings which absorb the heat (so that
total mass is conserved).

Such a change in mass may only happen when the system is open, and the energy
and mass escapes.

Thus, if a stick of dynamite is blown up in a hermetically sealed chamber, the

mass of the chamber and fragments, the heat, sound, and light would still be equal
to the original mass of the chamber and dynamite.

If sitting on a scale, the weight and mass would not change. This would in theory
also happen even with a nuclear bomb, if it could be kept in an ideal box of
infinite strength, which did not rupture or pass radiation.
Thus, a 21.5 kiloton (9 x 1013joule) nuclear bomb produces about one gram of heat
and electromagnetic radiation, but the mass of this energy would not be detectable
in an exploded bomb in an ideal box sitting on a scale; instead, the contents of the
box would be heated to millions of degrees without changing total mass and

If then, however, a transparent window (passing only electromagnetic radiation)

were opened in such an ideal box after the explosion, and a beam of X-rays and
other lower-energy light allowed to escape the box, it would eventually be found
to weigh one gram less than it had before the explosion.

This weight-loss and mass-loss would happen as the box was cooled by this
process, to room temperature. However, any surrounding mass which had
absorbed the X-rays (and other "heat") would gain this gram of mass from the
resulting heating, so the mass "loss" would represent merely its relocation.

Thus, no mass (or, in the case of a nuclear bomb, no matter) would be "converted"
to energy in such a process. Mass and energy, as always, would both be separately

11. b).Discuss the elementary treatment of an atom.


Atomic Structure:

An element is defined as a substance which cannot be decomposed into other

substance. The smallest particle of an element which takes part in chemical reaction is
known as atom

According to Dalton s atomic the on I Al! the atoms of one element are precisely
alike, have the same mass but differs from the atoms of other elements. Power Plant

The chemical combination consists of the union of small fixed number of atoms of
one element with a small fixed number of other elements. The atom of any substance
consists of positively charged nuclear and the negatively charged elections orbiting
around the nucleus.

Life nucleus consists of protons and neutrons. The neutron has a mass but neutral
electric charge. The proton also possesses a mass but carry a positive charge equal and
opposite to that of election. As the positive charge on proton is equal to the negative
charge on election, and the number of electrons is equal to the number of protons,
atom is a neutral element.

Any addition of election to the neutral atom makes the atom negatively charged.
Similarly, any subtraction of election will make it positively charged. Such atom is
known as iron and the process of charging the atom is known as ionization.

The nuclear model of the atom describes how the three basic sub atomic particles, the proton,
the neutron and the electron are arranged. The nucleus is the centre of the atom and is
positive in charge. It is made up of protons and neutrons. Negative electrons orbit the atom.
The atom is made up mostly of empty space. The nuclear model of the atom consists of a
nucleus (meaning: 'nut' or 'kernel') which is surrounded by orbiting electrons.The atom is
made up mostly of empty space.The nucleus is made up of protons and neutrons.Protons are
positive, neutrons are neutral and electrons are negative.In a neutral atom the number of
protons (positive charge) = the number of electrons (negative charge)
Protons determine the identity of an element.
The number of protons is called the Atomic Number. Each element has a
unique Atomic Number. eg. All atoms of Carbon have an Atomic Number of 6.
ie. they all contain 6 protons. All atoms of oxygen contain 8 protons. ie. They
have an Atomic Number of 8. The Atomic Number for each element can be
found in the Periodic Table.
Neutrons help stabilise atoms. If there are too many or too few neutrons the
atom becomes unstable. Atoms of the same element that contain a different
number of neutrons are called isotopes.
Electrons are involved in chemical reactions. During a reaction electrons are
either transferred or shared between chemical species. The noble gases are
very unreactive because they have a complete number of electrons in their
outer shell.
The Rutherford model or planetary model is a model of the atom devised by
Ernest Rutherford. Rutherford directed the famous Geiger-Marsden
experiment in 1909, which suggested on Rutherford's 1911 analysis that the
so-called "plum pudding model" of J. J. Thomson of the atom was incorrect.
Rutherford's new model for the atom, based on the experimental results, had
the new features of a relatively high central charge concentrated into a very
small volume in comparison to the rest of the atom and containing the bulk of
the atomic mass (the nucleus of the atom).

Rutherford's model did not make any new headway in explaining the electronstructure of the atom; in this regard Rutherford merely mentioned earlier
atomic models in which a number of tiny electrons circled the nucleus like
planets around the sun, or a ring around a planet (such as Saturn).

However, by implication, Rutherford's concentration of most of the atom's

mass into a very small core made a planetary model an even more likely
metaphor than before, as such a core would contain most of the atom's mass,
in an analogous way to the Sun containing most of the solar system's mass.

In 1911, Rutherford came forth with his own physical model for subatomic
structure, as an interpretation for the unexpected experimental results.

In it, the atom is made up of a central charge (this is the modern atomic
nucleus, though Rutherford did not use the term "nucleus" in his paper)
surrounded by a cloud of (presumably) orbiting electrons.

In this May 1911 paper, Rutherford only commits himself to a small central
region of very high positive or negative charge in the atom.
"For concreteness, consider the passage of a high speed particle through an atom
having a positive central charge N e, and surrounded by a compensating charge of N
From purely energetic considerations of how far alpha particles of known
speed would be able to penetrate toward a central charge of 100 e, Rutherford
was able to calculate that the radius of his gold central charge would need to
be less (how much less could not be told) than 3.4 x 10 14 metres (the modern
value is only about a fifth of this).

This was in a gold atom known to be 10 10 metres or so in radiusa very

surprising finding, as it implied a strong central charge less than 1/3000th of
the diameter of the atom.

The Rutherford model served to concentrate a great deal of the atom's charge
and mass to a very small core, but didn't attribute any structure to the
remaining electrons and remaining atomic mass.

It did mention the atomic model of Hantaro Nagaoka, in which the electrons
are arranged in one or more rings, with the specific metaphorical structure of
the stable rings of Saturn.

The so-called plum pudding model of J.J. Thomson had also had rings of
orbiting electrons.
The Rutherford paper suggested that the central charge of an atom might be
"proportional" to its atomic mass in hydrogen mass units u (roughly 1/2 of it,
in Rutherford's model).

For gold, this mass number is 197 (not then known to great accuracy) and was
therefore modeled by Rutherford to be possibly 196 u.
However, Rutherford did not attempt to make the direct connection of central
charge to atomic number, since gold's place on the periodic table was known
to be about 79 u, and Rutherford's more tentative model for the structure of the
gold nucleus was 49 helium nuclei, which would have given it a mass of 196 u
and charge of 98 e, which was much more in keeping with his experimentallydetermined central charge for gold.

in this experiment of about 100 e. This differed enough from gold's "atomic
number" (at that time merely its place number in the periodic table) that
Rutherford did not formally suggest the two numbers (atomic number and
nuclear charge) might be exactly the same.

A month after Rutherford's paper appeared, the proposal regarding the exact identity
of atomic number and nuclear charge was made by Antonius van den Broek, and later
confirmed experimentally within two years, by Henry Moseley.
The theory of relativity allows particles which have rest mass to be converted
to other forms of mass which require motion, such as kinetic energy, heat, or
However, the mass remains. Kinetic energy or light can also be converted to
new kinds of particles which have rest mass, but again the energy remains.
Both the total mass and the total energy inside a totally closed system remain
constant over time, as seen by any single observer in a given inertial frame.
In other words, energy cannot be created or destroyed, and energy, in all of its
forms, has mass. Mass also cannot be created or destroyed, and in all of its
forms, has energy.
According to the theory of relativity, mass and energy as commonly
understood, are two names for the same thing, and neither one is changed or
transformed into the other.

Rather, neither one appears without the other. Rather than mass being
changed into energy, the view of relativity is that rest mass has been changed
to a more mobile form of mass, but remains mass.

In this process, neither the amount of mass nor the amount of energy changes.
Thus, if energy changes type and leaves a system, it simply takes its mass with

it. If either mass or energy disappears from a system, it will always be found
that both have simply moved off to another place.

12. a)(i)State the law of mass energy equivalence and calculate the energy in kW likely
to be produced by one gram of matter taking light velocity as 3 x10^8 m/sec.
When an object is pushed in the direction of motion, it gains momentum and energy,
but when the object is already traveling near the speed of light, it cannot move much faster,
no matter how much energy it absorbs. Its momentum and energy continue to increase
without bounds, whereas its speed approaches a constant valuethe speed of light. This
implies that in relativity the momentum of an object cannot be a constant times the velocity,
nor can the kinetic energy be a constant times the square of the velocity.
The relativistic mass is defined as the ratio of the momentum of an object to its
velocity.[4] Relativistic mass depends on the motion of the object. If the object is moving
slowly, the relativistic mass is nearly equal to the rest mass and both are nearly equal to the
usual Newtonian mass. If the object is moving quickly, the relativistic mass is greater than the
rest mass by an amount equal to the mass associated with the kinetic energy of the object. As
the object approaches the speed of light, the relativistic mass grows infinitely, because the
kinetic energy grows infinitely and this energy is associated with mass.
The relativistic mass is always equal to the total energy (rest energy plus kinetic
energy) divided by c2.[3] Because the relativistic mass is exactly proportional to the energy,
relativistic mass and relativistic energy are nearly synonyms; the only difference between
them is the units. If length and time are measured in natural units, the speed of light is equal
to 1, and even this difference disappears. Then mass and energy have the same units and are
always equal, so it is redundant to speak about relativistic mass, because it is just another
name for the energy. This is why physicists usually reserve the useful short word "mass" to
mean rest-mass.
For things made up of many parts, like an atomic nucleus, planet, or star, the
relativistic mass is the sum of the relativistic masses (or energies) of the parts, because
energies are additive in closed systems. This is not true in systems which are open, however,
if energy is subtracted. For example, if a system is bound by attractive forces and the work
they do in attraction is removed from the system, mass will be lost. Such work is a form of
energy which itself has mass, and thus mass is removed from the system, as it is bound. For
example, the mass of an atomic nucleus is less than the total mass of the protons and neutrons
that make it up, but this is only true after the energy (work) of binding has been removed in
the form of a gamma ray (which in this system, carries away the mass of binding). This mass
decrease is also equivalent to the energy required to break up the nucleus into individual
protons and neutrons (in this case, work and mass would need to be supplied). Similarly, the
mass of the solar system is slightly less than the masses of sun and planets individually.
The relativistic mass of a moving object is bigger than the relativistic mass of an
object that is not moving, because a moving object has extra kinetic energy. The rest mass of

an object is defined as the mass of an object when it is at rest, so that the rest mass is always
the same, independent of the motion of the observer: it is the same in all inertial frames.
For a system of particles going off in different directions, the invariant mass of the
system is the analog of the rest mass, and is the same for all observers. It is defined as the
total energy (divided by c2) in the center of mass frame (where by definition, the system total
momentum is zero). A simple example of an object with moving parts but zero total
momentum, is a container of gas. In this case, the mass of the container is given by its total
energy (including the kinetic energy of the gas molecules), since the system total energy and
invariant mass are the same in the reference frame where the momentum is zero, and this
reference frame is also the only frame in which the object can be weighed.
As is noted above, two different definitions of mass have been used in special
relativity, and also two different definitions of energy. The simple equation E = mc is not
generally applicable to all these types of mass and energy, except in the special case that the
momentum is zero for the system under consideration. In such a case, which is always
guaranteed when observing the system from the center of mass frame, E = mc is true for any
type of mass and energy that are chosen. Thus, for example, in the center of mass frame the
total energy of an object or system is equal to its rest mass times c, a useful equality. This is
the relationship used for the container of gas in the previous example. It is not true in other
reference frames in which a system or object's total energy will depend on both its rest (or
invariant) mass, and also its total momentum.
In inertial reference frames other than the rest frame or center of mass frame, the
equation E = mc remains true if the energy is the relativistic energy and the mass the
relativistic mass. It is also correct if the energy is the rest or invariant energy (also the
minimum energy), and the mass is the rest or invariant mass.
However, connection of the total or relativistic energy (Er) with the rest or
invariant mass (m0) requires consideration of the system total momentum, in systems and
reference frames where momentum has a non-zero value. The formula then required to
connect the different kinds of mass and energy, is the extended version of Einstein's equation,
called the relativistic energymomentum relationship:
Here the (pc)2 term represents the square of the Euclidean norm (total vector length) of
the various momentum vectors in the system, which reduces to the square of the simple
momentum magnitude, if only a single particle is considered. Obviously this equation reduces
to E = mc when the momentum term is zero. For photons where m0 = 0, the equation reduces
to Er = pc.

12. a)(ii) Write short notes on Massless particles.

Massless particles have zero rest mass. Their relativistic mass is simply their
relativistic energy, divided by c2, or m(relativistic) = E/c2.
The energy for photons is E = h where h is Planck's constant and is the
photon frequency. This frequency and thus the relativistic energy are framedependent.
If an observer runs away from a photon in the direction it travels from a
source, having it catch up with the observer, then when the photon catches up
it will be seen as having less energy than it had at the source.
The faster the observer is traveling with regard to the source when the photon
catches up, the less energy the photon will have.
As an observer approaches the speed of light with regard to the source, the
photon looks redder and redder, by relativistic Doppler effect (the Doppler
shift is the relativistic formula), and the energy of a very long-wavelength
photon approaches zero. This is why a photon is massless; this means that the
rest mass of a photon is zero.
Two photons moving in different directions cannot both be made to have
arbitrarily small total energy by changing frames, or by moving toward or
away from them.
The reason is that in a two-photon system, the energy of one photon is
decreased by chasing after it, but the energy of the other will increase with the
same shift in observer motion.

Two photons not moving in the same direction will exhibit an inertial frame
where the combined energy is smallest, but not zero. This is called the center
of mass frame or the center of momentum frame; these terms are almost
synonyms (the center of mass frame is the special case of a center of
momentum frame where the center of mass is put at the origin).

The most that chasing a pair of photons can accomplish to decrease their
energy is to put the observer in frame where the photons have equal energy
and are moving directly away from each other.

In this frame, the observer is now moving in the same direction and speed as
the center of mass of the two photons. The total momentum of the photons is
now zero, since their momentums are equal and opposite.

In this frame the two photons, as a system, have a mass equal to their total
energy divided by c2. This mass is called the invariant mass of the pair of
photons together.

It is the smallest mass and energy the system may be seen to have, by any
observer. It is only the invariant mass of a two-photon system that can be used
to make a single particle with the same rest mass.
If the photons are formed by the collision of a particle and an antiparticle, the
invariant mass is the same as the total energy of the particle and antiparticle
(their rest energy plus the kinetic energy), in the center of mass frame, where
they will automatically be moving in equal and opposite directions (since they
have equal momentum in this frame).
If the photons are formed by the disintegration of a single particle with a welldefined rest mass, like the neutral pion, the invariant mass of the photons is
equal to rest mass of the pion.

In this case, the center of mass frame for the pion is just the frame where the
pion is at rest, and the center of mass does not change after it disintegrates into
two photons.

After the two photons are formed, their center of mass is still moving the same
way the pion did, and their total energy in this frame adds up to the mass
energy of the pion.

Thus, by calculating the invariant mass of pairs of photons in a particle

detector, pairs can be identified that were probably produced by pion
12.b) (i) . Define half life, mean life and decay constant.

Half-life (t12) is the amount of time required for a quantity to fall to half its
value as measured at the beginning of the time period.

While the term "half-life" can be used to describe any quantity which follows
an exponential decay, it is most often used within the context ofnuclear
physics and nuclear chemistrythat is, the time required, probabilistically, for
half of the unstable, radioactive atoms in a sample to undergo radioactive

The original term, dating to Ernest Rutherford's discovery of the principle in

1907, was "half-life period", which was shortened to "half-life" in the early
1950s. Rutherford applied the principle of a radioactive element's half-life to
studies of age determination of rocks by measuring the decay period
of radium to lead-206.
Half-life is used to describe a quantity undergoing exponential decay, and is
constant over the lifetime of the decaying quantity. It is acharacteristic unit for
the exponential decay equation.
The term "half-life" may generically be used to refer to any period of time in
which a quantity falls by half, even if the decay is not exponential. The table
on the right shows the reduction of a quantity in terms of the number of halflives elapsed.

For a general introduction and description of exponential decay,

see exponential decay. For a general introduction and description of nonexponential decay, see rate law. The converse of half-life is doubling time.
An exponential decay process can be described by any of the following three equivalent


N0 is the initial quantity of the substance that will decay

(this quantity may be measured in grams, moles,

number of atoms, etc.),

N(t) is the quantity that still remains and has not yet decayed after a time t,

t12 is the half-life of the decaying quantity,

is a positive number called the mean lifetime of the decaying quantity,

is a positive number called the decay constant of the decaying quantity.

The three parameters

, , and

are all directly related in the following way:

Mean life, in radioactivity, average lifetime of all the nuclei of a particular

unstable atomic species. This time interval may be thought of as the sum of
the lifetimes of all the individual unstable nuclei in a sample, divided by the
total number of unstable nuclei present.

The mean life of a particular species of unstable nucleus is always 1.443 times
longer than its half-life (time interval required for half the unstable nuclei to
decay). Lead-209, for example, decays to bismuth-209 with a mean life of
4.69 hours and a half-life of 3.25 hours.
Decay constant, proportionality between the size of a population of
radioactive atoms and the rate at which the population decreases because of
radioactive decay.

Suppose Nis the size of a population of radioactive atoms at a given time t,

and dN is the amount by which the population decreases in time dt; then the
rate of change is given by the equation dN/dt = N, where is the decay
constant. Integration of this equation yieldsN = N0et, where N0 is the size of
an initial population of radioactive atoms at timet = 0

This shows that the population decays exponentially at a rate that depends on
the decay constant. The time required for half of the original population of
radioactive atoms to decay is called the half-life. The relationship between
the half-life, T1/2, and the decay constant is given by T1/2 = 0.693/.
12.b) (ii) Explain various types of decay in atomic nucleus.
Alpha decay is one example type of radioactive decay, in which an atomic
nucleus emits an alpha particle, and thereby transforms (or 'decays') into an
atom with a mass number 4 less and atomic number 2 less. Many other types
of decays are possible.
Radioactive decay is the process by which an atomic nucleus of an unstable
atom loses energy by emitting ionizing particles (ionizing radiation).

The emission is spontaneous, in that the atom decays without any interaction
with another particle from outside the atom (i.e., without a nuclear reaction).

Usually, radioactive decay happens due to a process confined to the nucleus of

the unstable atom, but, on occasion (as with the different processes of electron
capture and internal conversion), an inner electron of the radioactive atom is
also necessary to the process.
Radioactive decay is a stochastic (i.e., random) process at the level of single
atoms, in that, according to quantum theory, it is impossible to predict when a
given atom will decay.

However, given a large number of identical atoms (nuclides), the decay rate
for the collection is predictable, via the Law of Large Numbers.

The decay, or loss of energy, results when an atom with one type of nucleus,
called the parent radionuclide, transforms to an atom with a nucleus in a
different state, or a different nucleus, either of which is named the daughter
Often the parent and daughter are different chemical elements, and in such
cases the decay process results in nuclear transmutation.
In an example of this, a carbon-14 atom (the "parent") emits radiation (a beta
particle, antineutrino, and a gamma ray) and transforms to a nitrogen-14 atom
(the "daughter").

By contrast, there exist two types of radioactive decay processes (gamma

decay and internal conversion decay) that do not result in transmutation, but
only decrease the energy of an excited nucleus.

This results in an atom of the same element as before but with a nucleus in a
lower energy state. An example is the nuclear isomer technetium-99m
decaying, by the emission of a gamma ray, to an atom of technetium-99.
Nuclides produced as daughters are called radiogenic nuclides, whether they
themselves are stable or not. A number of naturally occurring radionuclides are
short-lived radiogenic nuclides that are the daughters of radioactive primordial
nuclides (types of radioactive atoms that have been present since the
beginning of the Earth and solar system).
Other naturally occurring radioactive nuclides are cosmogenic nuclides,
formed by cosmic ray bombardment of material in the Earth's atmosphere or
For a summary table showing the number of stable nuclides and of radioactive
nuclides in each category, see Radionuclide.
The SI unit of activity is the becquerel (Bq).
Types of decay
As for types of radioactive radiation, it was found that an electric or magnetic
field could split such emissions into three types of beams.
For lack of better terms, the rays were given the alphabetic names alpha, beta,
and gamma, still in use today. While alpha decay was seen only in heavier
elements (atomic number 52, tellurium, and greater), the other two types of
decay were seen in all of the elements.

In analyzing the nature of the decay products, it was obvious from the
direction of electromagnetic forces produced upon the radiations by external
magnetic and electric fields that alpha rays carried a positive charge, beta rays
carried a negative charge, and gamma rays were neutral.
From the magnitude of deflection, it was clear that alpha particles were much
more massive than beta particles. Passing alpha particles through a very thin
glass window and trapping them in a discharge tube allowed researchers to
study the emission spectrum of the resulting gas, and ultimately prove that
alpha particles are helium nuclei.

Other experiments showed the similarity between classical beta radiation and
cathode rays: They are both streams of electrons. Likewise gamma radiation
and X-rays were found to be similar high-energy electromagnetic radiation.

The relationship between types of decays also began to be examined: For

example, gamma decay was almost always found associated with other types
of decay, occurring at about the same time, or afterward.

Gamma decay as a separate phenomenon (with its own half-life, now termed
isomeric transition), was found in natural radioactivity to be a result of the
gamma decay of excited metastable nuclear isomers, in turn created from other
types of decay.

Although alpha, beta, and gamma were found most commonly, other types of
decay were eventually discovered.
Shortly after the discovery of the positron in cosmic ray products, it was
realized that the same process that operates in classical beta decay can also
produce positrons (positron emission).

In an analogous process, instead of emitting positrons and neutrinos, some

proton-rich nuclides were found to capture their own atomic electrons
(electron capture), and emit only a neutrino (and usually also a gamma ray).

Each of these types of decay involves the capture or emission of nuclear

electrons or positrons, and acts to move a nucleus toward the ratio of neutrons
to protons that has the least energy for a given total number of nucleons
(neutrons plus protons).

Shortly after discovery of the neutron in 1932, it was discovered by Enrico

Fermi that certain rare decay reactions yield neutrons as a decay particle
(neutron emission).

Isolated proton emission was eventually observed in some elements. It was

also found that some heavy elements may undergo spontaneous fission into
products that vary in composition.

In a phenomenon called cluster decay, specific combinations of neutrons and

protons (atomic nuclei) other than alpha particles (helium nuclei) were found
to be spontaneously emitted from atoms, on occasion.

Other types of radioactive decay that emit previously seen particles were
found, but by different mechanisms. An example is internal conversion, which
results in electron and sometimes high-energy photon emission, even though it
involves neither beta nor gamma decay.
This type of decay (like isomeric transition gamma decay) did not transmute
one element to another.
Rare events that involve a combination of two beta-decay type events
happening simultaneously (see below) are known.
Any decay process that does not violate conservation of energy or momentum
laws (and perhaps other particle conservation laws) is permitted to happen,
although not all have been detected.
An interesting example (discussed in a final section) is bound state beta decay
of rhenium-187. In this process, an inverse of electron capture, beta electrondecay of the parent nuclide is not accompanied by beta electron emission,
because the beta particle has been captured into the K-shell of the emitting
atom. An antineutrino, however, is emitted.

13.a)(i). Write a brief note on neutron interactions and cross sections.

Neutrons interaction.
Interactions where a neutron scatters off a target nucleus are either elastic or inelastic.
In elastic scattering, kinetic energy and momentum are conserved and no energy
is transferred into excitation energy of the target nucleus. In inelastic scattering,
some amount of kinetic energy is transferred into excitation energy of the target
The conservation principles that apply to an elastic collision are conservation of
kinetic energy and conservation of momentum. Radiative capture is the
absorption of a neutron by the target nucleus, resulting in an excited nucleus
which subsequently (typically within a small fraction of a second) releases its
excitation energy in the form of a gamma ray.

Particle ejection occurs when a neutron is absorbed by a target nucleus, resulting

in the formation of a compound nucleus. The compound nucleus immediately
ejects a particle (for example, alpha or proton)

The nuclear cross section of a nucleus is used to characterize the probability that a
nuclear reaction will occur.
The concept of a nuclear cross section can be quantified physically in terms of
"characteristic area" where a larger area means a larger probability of interaction.
The standard unit for measuring a nuclear cross section (denoted as ) is the barn,
which is equal to 1028 m or 1024 cm. Cross sections can be measured for all
possible interaction processes together, in which case they are called total cross
sections, or for specific processes, distinguishing elastic scattering and inelastic
scattering; of the latter, amongst neutron cross sections the absorption cross
sections are of particular interest.

In nuclear physics it is conventional to consider the impinging particles as point

particles having negligible diameter.

Cross sections can be computed for any sort of process, such as capture
scattering, production of neutrons, etc. In many cases, the number of particles
emitted or scattered in nuclear processes is not measured directly.

one merely measures the attenuation produced in a parallel beam of incident

particles by the interposition of a known thickness of a particular material. The
cross section obtained in this way is called the total cross section and is usually
denoted by a or T.

The typical nuclear radius is of the order of 1012 cm. We might therefore expect
the cross sections for nuclear reactions to be of the order of r or roughly 1024
cm and this unit is given its own name, the barn, and is the unit in which cross
sections are usually expressed.

Actually the observed cross sections vary enormously. Thus for slow neutrons
absorbed by the (n, ) reaction the cross section in some cases is as much as
1,000 barns, while the cross sections for transmutations by gamma-ray absorption
are in the neighborhood of 0.001 barn.

Macroscopic cross section

Nuclear cross sections are used in determining the nuclear reaction rate, and
are governed by the reaction rate equation for a particular set of particles
(usually viewed as a "beam and target" thought experiment where one particle
or nucleus is the "target" [typically at rest] and the other is treated as a "beam"
[projectile with a given energy]).

For neutron interactions incident upon a thin sheet of material (ideally made of a
single type of isotope), the nuclear reaction rate equation is written as:

rx : number of reactions of type x, units: [1/time/volume]

: neutron beam flux, units: [1/area/time]

x : microscopic cross section for reaction x, units: [area] (usually barns or cm2).

A : density of atoms in the target in units of [1/volume]

: macroscopic cross-section [1/length]

Types of reactions frequently encountered are s: scattering, : radiative capture, a:

absorption (radiative capture belongs to this type), f: fission, the corresponding notation for

s, , a, etc. A special case is the total cross-section t, which gives

the probability of a neutron to undergo any sort of reaction (t = s + + f + ...).
cross-sections being:

Formally, the equation above defines the macroscopic neutron cross-section

(for reaction x) as the proportionality constant between a neutron flux incident
on a (thin) piece of material and the number of reactions that occur (per unit
volume) in that material.

The distinction between macroscopic and microscopic cross-section is that the

former is a property of a specific lump of material (with its density), while the
latter is an intrinsic property of a type of nuclei.

13.a)(ii). Discuss how inelastic scattering differs from elastic scattering.

Inelastic scattering

Inelastic scattering is a fundamental scattering process in which the kinetic

energy of an incident particle is not conserved (in contrast to elastic

In an inelastic scattering process, some of the energy of the incident particle is

lost or increased. Although the term is historically related to the concept

of inelastic collision in dynamics, the two concepts are quite distinct; the latter
refers to processes in which the total kinetic energy is not conserved.

In general, scattering due to inelastic collisions will be inelastic, but, since

elastic collisions often transfer kinetic energy between particles, scattering due
to elastic collisions can also be inelastic, as inCompton scattering.

When an electron is the incident particle, the probability of inelastic scattering,

depending on the energy of the incident electron, is usually smaller than that
of elastic scattering.

Thus in the case of gas electron diffraction, reflection high-energy electron

diffraction (RHEED), and transmission electron diffraction, because the
energy of the incident electron is high, the contribution of inelastic electron
scattering can be ignored.

Deep inelastic scattering of electrons from protons provided the first direct
evidence for the existence ofquarks

When a photon is the incident particle, the inelastic scattering process is

called Raman scattering. In this scattering process, the incident photon
interacts with matter (gas, liquid, and solid) and the frequency of the photon is
shifted to red or blue.

A red shift can be observed when part of the energy of the photon is
transferred to the interacting matter, where it adds to its internal energy in a
process called Stokes scattering.

The blue shift can be observed when internal energy of the matter is
transferred to the photon; this process is called anti-Stokes Raman scattering.

Inelastic scattering is seen in the interaction between an electron and a photon.

When a high-energy photon collides with a free electron and transfers energy,
the process is called Compton scattering.

Furthermore, when an electron with relativistic energy collides with an

infrared or visible photon, the electron gives energy to the photon; this process
is called inverse Compton scattering.




Neutrons undergo many types of scattering, including both elastic and

inelastic scattering. Whether elastic or inelastic scatter occurs is dependent on
the speed of the neutron, whether fast or thermal, or somewhere in between.

It is also dependent on the nucleus it strikes and its neutron cross section. In
inelastic scattering, neutrons are readily absorbed in a process called neutron
capture and attributes to the neutron activation of the nucleus.

Neutron interactions with most types of matter in this manner usually

produce radioactive nuclei, many of which will rapidly decay. The
abundant oxygen-16 nucleus, for example, undergoes neutron activation,
rapidly decays by a proton emission forming nitrogen-16, which decays to

In other cases the neutron merely activates the nucleus, putting it into an
excited, unstable, short-lived energy state which causes it to quickly emit
some kind of radiation to bring it back down to a stable or ground state.

Alpha, beta, gamma, and protons may be emitted, or a neutron may re-emerge
from the excited nucleus. Particles scattered in this type of nuclear reaction
may cause the nucleus to recoil in the other direction.

Molecular collisions.

Inelastic scattering is common in molecular collisions. Any collision which

leads to a chemical reaction will be inelastic, but the term inelastic scattering
is reserved for those collisions which do not result in reactions.

There is a transfer of energy between the translational mode (kinetic energy)

and rotational and vibrational modes.

If the transferred energy is small compared to the incident energy of the scattered particle,
one speaks of quasielastic scattering.

13.b) What is chain reaction? How it is maintained? What is the difference between
controlled and uncontrolled chain reaction? Explain with neat sketches and with
Nuclear fission is the process of splitting of nucleus into two almost equal fragments
accompanied by release of heat. In other words, it is the process of splitting of unstable
heavy nucleus into two fragments of approximately equal mass

During fission process, neutron is absorbed by the nucleus of atom of U and splits

up into two fragments of approximately equal size. Also about 2.D neutrons are
released and a large amount of energy IS produced. fhe neutrons produced move
with veiy high velocity (l.5x10 im s) and fission otner nuclei ol Lr .
Thus fission process and release of neutrons lake place continuously throughout the
remaining material. This self-sustaining react is known as chain reaction.
This chain reaction is the process in which the number of neutrons keeps on
multiplying rapidly during the fission till whole of the fissionable material is

The chain reaction will become self-sustaining or self-propagating only, if for

energy neutrons absorbed at least one fission neutron becomes available for
causing fission of another nucleus.

This condition can be conveniently expressed in the fonn of multiplication factor

or reproduction factor of the system which may be defined as K Nuin her neutrons
in any particular generation Number neutrons in the preceding generation

For sustaining chain reaction K > 1 and if K < 1, chain reaction cannot be
maintained.There are many reasons where not all the fission neutrons cause
further fission I Absorption of some neutrons causes further fission products non
fissionable nuclei in the fuel structural material moderator and soon 2 Leakage of
neutrons escaping from the core.

For example about 2 5 neutrons are released in fission of each nuclei of U Out of
these one neutron is used to sustain the chain reaction 0 9 neutrons are absorbed b
U and become fissionable material Pir

The remainmg 0 6 neutrons are partly absorbed by control rod material, coolant
moderator and partl\ escape from the reactor Nuclear fucion
Nucleai fusion is the process of combining of fusing to lighter nuclei into a stable and
heavier nuclide.
In this process also, large amount of energy is released because mass of the
product nucleus is less \er) when compared to mass of the two nuclei which are

A uranium-235 atom absorbs a neutron and fissions into two new atoms (fission
fragments), releasing three new neutrons and some binding energy.
One of those neutrons is absorbed by an atom of uranium-238 and does not
continue the reaction. Another neutron is simply lost and does not collide with
anything, also not continuing the reaction.
However one neutron does collide with an atom of uranium-235, which then
fissions and releases two neutrons and some binding energy.
Both of those neutrons collide with uranium-235 atoms, each of which fissions
and releases between one and three neutrons, which can then continue the

Several heavy elements, such as uranium, thorium, and plutonium, undergo both
spontaneous fission, a form of radioactive decay and induced fission, a form of
nuclear reaction.

Elemental isotopes that undergo induced fission when struck by a free neutron are
called fissionable; isotopes that undergo fission when struck by a thermal, slow
moving neutron are also called fissile.

A few particularly fissile and readily obtainable isotopes (notably 235U and 239Pu)
are called nuclear fuels because they can sustain a chain reaction and can be
obtained in large enough quantities to be useful.

All fissionable and fissile isotopes undergo a small amount of spontaneous fission
which releases a few free neutrons into any sample of nuclear fuel.

Such neutrons would escape rapidly from the fuel and become a free neutron,
with a mean lifetime of about 15 minutes before decaying to protons and beta

However, neutrons almost invariably impact and are absorbed by other nuclei
in the vicinity long before this happens (newly-created fission neutrons move
at about 7% of the speed of light, and even moderated neutrons move at about
8 times the speed of sound).

Some neutrons will impact fuel nuclei and induce further fissions, releasing
yet more neutrons. If enough nuclear fuel is assembled in one place, or if the
escaping neutrons are sufficiently contained, then these freshly emitted
neutrons outnumber the neutrons that escape from the assembly, and a
sustained nuclear chain reaction will take place.

An assembly that supports a sustained nuclear chain reaction is called a critical

assembly or, if the assembly is almost entirely made of a nuclear fuel, a
critical mass.

The word "critical" refers to a cusp in the behavior of the differential equation
that governs the number of free neutrons present in the fuel if less than a
critical mass is present, then the amount of neutrons is determined by
radioactive decay.

If a critical mass or more is present, then the amount of neutrons is controlled

instead by the physics of the chain reaction. The actual mass of a critical mass
of nuclear fuel depends strongly on the geometry and surrounding materials.

Not all fissionable isotopes can sustain a chain reaction. For example, 238U, the
most abundant form of uranium, is fissionable but not fissile: it undergoes
induced fission when impacted by an energetic neutron with over 1 MeV of
kinetic energy.

But too few of the neutrons produced by 238U fission are energetic enough to
induce further fissions in 238U, so no chain reaction is possible with this
isotope. Instead, bombarding 238U with slow neutrons causes it to absorb them
(becoming 239U) and decay by beta emission to 239Np which then decays again
by the same process to 239Pu that process is used to manufacture 239Pu in
breeder reactors.

In-situ plutonium production also contributes to the neutron chain reaction in

other types of reactors after sufficient plutonium-239 has been produced, since
plutonium-239 is also a fissile element which serves as fuel.

It is estimated that up to half of the power produced by a standard "nonbreeder" reactor is produced by the fission of plutonium-239 produced in
place, over the total life-cycle of a fuel load.

Fissionable, non-fissile isotopes can be used as fission energy source even without a
chain reaction. Bombarding 238U with fast neutrons induces fissions, releasing energy as long
as the external neutron source is present.

This is an important effect in all reactors where fast neutrons from the fissile
isotope can cause the fission of nearby 238U nuclei, which means that some
small part of the 238U is "burned-up" in all nuclear fuels, especially in fast
breeder reactors that operate with higher-energy neutrons.
That same fast-fission effect is used to augment the energy released by modern
thermonuclear weapons, by jacketing the weapon with 238U to react with
neutrons released by nuclear fusion at the center of the device.

14.a)(i) . Write short notes on critical mass.

Critical mass.
A critical mass is the smallest amount of fissile material needed for a
sustained nuclear chain reaction.
The critical mass of a fissionable material depends upon its nuclear properties
(specifically, the nuclear fission cross-section), itsdensity, its shape,
its enrichment, its purity, its temperature, and its surroundings. The concept is
important in nuclear weapon design.
Explanation of criticality.
When a nuclear chain reaction in a mass of fissile material is self-sustaining,
the mass is said to be in a critical state in which there is no increase or
decrease in power, temperature, or neutron population.
A numerical measure of a critical mass is dependent on the effective neutron
multiplication factor k, the average number of neutrons released per fission
event that go on to cause another fission event rather than being absorbed or
leaving the material. When
, the mass is critical, and the chain reaction
is barely self-sustaining.
A subcritical mass is a mass of fissile material that does not have the ability
to sustain a fission chain reaction. A population of neutrons introduced to a
subcritical assembly will exponentially decrease. In this case,
A steady rate of spontaneous fissions causes a proportionally steady level of
neutron activity. The constant of proportionality increases as k increases.
A supercritical mass is one where there is an increasing rate of fission. The material
may settle into equilibrium (i.e. become critical again) at an elevated temperature/power level
or destroy itself, by which equilibrium is reached. In the case of supercriticality,

Changing the point of of criticality.

The mass where criticality occurs may be changed by modifying certain attributes such as
fuel, shape, temperature, density and the installation of a neutron-reflective substance. These
attributes have complex interactions and interdependencies. This section explains only the
simplest ideal cases.
It is possible for a fuel assembly to be critical at near zero power. If the perfect
quantity of fuel were added to a slightly subcritical mass to create an "exactly
critical mass", fission would be self-sustaining for one neutron generation (fuel
consumption makes the assembly subcritical).
If the perfect quantity of fuel were added to a slightly subcritical mass, to create a
barely supercritical mass, the temperature of the assembly would increase to an
initial maximum (for example: 1 K above the ambient temperature) and then
decrease back to room temperature after a period of time, because fuel consumed
during fission brings the assembly back to subcriticality once again.
Changing the shape
A mass may be exactly critical without being a perfect homogeneous sphere. More
closely refining the shape toward a perfect sphere will make the mass supercritical.
Conversely changing the shape to a less perfect sphere will decrease its reactivity
and make it subcritical.
Changing the temperature
A mass may be exactly critical at a particular temperature. Fission and absorption crosssections increase as the relative neutron velocity decreases.
As fuel temperature increases, neutrons of a given energy appear faster and thus
fission/absorption is less likely. This is not unrelated to Doppler broadening of the
U238 resonances but is common to all fuels/absorbers/configurations.
Neglecting the very important resonances, the total neutron cross section of every
material exhibits an inverse relationship with relative neutron velocity. Hot fuel is
always less reactive than cold fuel (over/under moderation in LWR is a different
expansion associated with temperature increase also contributes a negative
coefficient of reactivity since fuel atoms are moving farther apart. A mass that is

exactly critical at room temperature would be sub-critical in an environment

anywhere above room temperature due to thermal expansion alone.
Varying the density of the mass
The higher the density, the lower the critical mass. The density of a material at a
constant temperature can be changed by varying the pressure or tension or by
changing crystal structure (see Allotropes of plutonium).
An ideal mass will become subcritical if allowed to expand or conversely the
same mass will become supercritical if compressed.
Changing the temperature may also change the density; however, the effect on
critical mass is then complicated by temperature effects (see "Changing the
temperature") and by whether the material expands or contracts with increased
Assuming the material expands with temperature (enriched uranium-235 at room
temperature for example), at an exactly critical state, it will become subcritical if
warmed to lower density or become supercritical if cooled to higher density.
Such a material is said to have a negative temperature coefficient of reactivity to
indicate that its reactivity decreases when its temperature increases. Using such a
material as fuel means fission decreases as the fuel temperature increases.

Use of a neutron reflector

Surrounding a spherical critical mass with a neutron reflector further reduces the mass
needed for criticality. A common material for a neutron reflector is beryllium metal. This
reduces the number of neutrons which escape the fissile material, resulting in increased
Use of a tamper
In a bomb, a dense shell of material surrounding the fissile core will contain, via
inertia, the expanding fissioning material. This increases the efficiency. A tamper
also tends to act as a neutron reflector.
Because a bomb relies on fast neutrons (not ones moderated by reflection with
light elements, as in a reactor), because the neutrons reflected by a tamper are
slowed by their collisions with the tamper nuclei, and because it takes time for the
reflected neutrons to return to the fissile core, they take rather longer to be
absorbed by a fissile nucleus.

But they do contribute to the reaction, and can decrease the critical mass by a
factor of four. Also, if the tamper is (e.g. depleted) uranium, it can fission due to
the high energy neutrons generated by the primary explosion.
This can greatly increase yield, especially if even more neutrons are generated by
fusing hydrogen isotopes, in a so-called boosted configuration.
14.a)(ii) Write short notes on Nuclear fuel cycles and its characteristics.
(i) Nuclear fuel cycles

The nuclear fuel cycle is the series of industrial processes which involve the
production of electricity from uranium in nuclear power reactors.

Uranium is a relatively common element that is found throughout the world. It is

mined in a number of countries and must be processed before it can be used as fuel
for a nuclear reactor.

Fuel removed from a reactor, after it has reached the end of its useful life, can be
reprocessed to produce new fuel.

The various activities associated with the production of electricity from nuclear reactions are
referred to collectively as the nuclear fuel cycle. The nuclear fuel cycle starts with the mining
of uranium and ends with the disposal of nuclear waste. With the reprocessing of used fuel as
an option for nuclear energy, the stages form a true cycle.

Fuel fabrication
Reactor fuel is generally in the form of ceramic pellets. These are formed from
pressed uranium oxide (UO2) which is sintered (baked) at a high temperature (over
1400C) .
The pellets are then encased in metal tubes to form fuel rods, which are arranged into
a fuel assembly ready for introduction into a reactor. The dimensions of the fuel
pellets and other components of the fuel assembly are precisely controlled to ensure
consistency in the characteristics of the fuel.
In a fuel fabrication plant great care is taken with the size and shape of processing vessels to
avoid criticality (a limited chain reaction releasing radiation). With low-enriched fuel
criticality is most unlikely, but in plants handling special fuels for research reactors this is a
vital consideration.

14.b)(i) Write short notes on Uranium production and purification.

Uranium production and purification.

The discovery of fission led to two potential routes to the production of fissile
material for the first nuclear weapons by the United States in the 1940s.
The first involved separating uranium-235 from uranium-238 isotopes in
natural uranium by gaseous diffusion. The second path produced plutonium239 by bombarding fertile uranium-238 in a nuclear reactor. But both
approaches began with mining of uranium ore.
Today, the production of fissile fuel for nuclear power reactors uses many
methods originally developed for producing nuclear weapons.
This unit addresses the metallurgy of uranium, its conversion into gaseous
uranium hexafluoride required for enrichment processes, and the fabrication of
fuel rods from the enriched uranium hexafluoride. The enrichment processes
are covered in a separate unit.

Uranium, the heaviest naturally occurring element, is about 500 times more
prevalent than gold and about as abundant as tin.
However, it is usually found in trace concentrations. The most common
mineral containing uranium is pitchblend which is composed of UO2 in the
presence of smaller amounts of UO3.

If the concentration of pitchblend is great enough for it to be extracted

economically, the material is known as an ore.

Deposits containing more than 0.1% pitchblend are economically viable.

Deposits containing more than 20% pitchblend are rare. In 2007, Canada,
Australia, and Kazakhstan accounted for over half of the worlds uranium

The cost of uranium is determined by the concentration of uranium in the ore:

the higher the concentration, the lower the cost.

The objective of uranium extraction chemistry is the preparation of U3O8, called

yellowcake .
Extraction of uranium is often difficult, and the metallurgical procedures vary with the
geological environment of the ore. Traditional methods of open pit or underground
mining are used to extract uranium ore.
More recently, in situ leaching has also been used to extract and concentrate the ore.
This technique circulates oxygenated groundwater through a porous ore body to
dissolve the uranium-containing compounds and bring them to the surface.
The ore is first crushed and ground to liberate mineral particles (Figure 2). An amphoteric
oxide is then leached with sulfuric acid.

UO3(s) + 2H+(aq) UO22+(aq) + H2O

UO22+(aq) + 3SO42-(aq)


A basic oxide is converted by a similar process to the water-soluble UO2(CO3)34-(aq) ion.

Two methods are used to concentrate and purify the uranium: ion exchange and solvent
extraction. Solvent extraction, the more common method, uses tertiary amines in an organic
kerosene solvent in a continuous process.

First the amines, R3N, react with sulfuric acid:

2 R3N(org) + H2SO4(aq) (R3NH)2SO4(org)

Then the amine sulfate extracts the uranyl ions into the organic phase while the impurities
remain in the aqueous phase. In the case of the uranyl sulfate ion, the following reaction

(R3NH)2SO4(org) + UO2(SO4)34-(aq)

(R3NH)4UO2(SO4)3(org) + 2SO42-(aq)

The solvents are removed by evaporation in a vacuum, and ammonium diuranate,

(NH4)2U2O7, is precipitated by adding ammonia to neutralize the solution. The diuranate is

then heated to yield solid U3O8.

14.b)(ii) Explain the nuclear fuel.

Nuclear Fuels:
These are many metals such as Uranium, Thorium and Plutonium used to produce
nuclear energy. ong those, Uranium is most important nuclear fuel. It exists in three different
forms in nanire havingmass numbers 234, 235 and 238.
Some of the properties required by the Uraniu fuel are as follows:

High tensile strength to prevent the buckling of fuel element and to bear thermal
High radiation stability to resist nuclear radiation against buckling Engineering


High conductivity to transfer the large amount of heat released and to reduce high
thermal stresses.
Better machinability of higher ductility,

Better corrosion resistance.

There are two kinds of nuclear fuels available depending on the

method of releasing energy.
Fissile fuels.
Fertile fuels.
Fissile fuels:
These fuels undergo fission process. When unstable heavy nuclear is bombarded with
eutrons, it splits into two fragments of approximately e mass. A large amount of heat is
released during this fission process. The fissile materials are used as fuel in nuclear power
Fertile fuels:
Some mater are not fissionable by themselves. Yet, they can be converted into fissionable
materials. They are called as fertile fuels.
These materials absorb neutron and undergo spontaneous change to produce
fissionable materials. Only U is available in nature U and D 239 u nre produced
U is produced by nuclear reaction of thorilAnl element. Pu is produced by neutron
irradiation of U These 239 33 Pu and (P can be fissioned by neutrons. U and Th are
known as fertile fuels.
Production of solid fuel rods from uranium hexafluoride gas enriched in U-235 requires
another series of chemical and metallurgical processes (Figure 3).
The uranium hexafluoride is first reduced to uranium tetrafluoride with hydrogen.
UF6(g) + H2(g)

UF4(s) + 2HF(g)

Uranium metal is then produced by reducing the uranium tetrafluoride with either calcium or
magnesium, both active group IIA metals that are excellent reducing agents.
UF4(s) + 2Ca(s)

U(s) + 2CaF2(s)

Production of uranium dioxide, often used as a reactor fuel, from uranium hexafluoride can
be accomplished by the following reaction.
UF6(g) + 2H2O(g) + H2(g)

UO2(s) + 6HF(g)

Reactor fuel consists of ceramic pellets formed from pressed uranium oxide, which is
sintered (baked) at a high temperature (over 1400C).

The pellets are then placed in metal tubes made of a zirconium alloy or
stainless steel and sealed in an atmosphere of helium to form fuel rods.

The fuel rods are then grouped in clusters to form the fuel assemblies, which
are placed into the reactor core (Figure 4). The individual rods for a
pressurized water reactor (PWR) are about 1 inch in diameter and 4 meters in

Fuel assemblies for PWRs contain from 179 to 264 rods, and a fully fueled
PRW will contain from 121 to 193 assemblies. A PWR must be shut down for

This occurs at intervals of 1 to 2 years, when about a third of the fuel

assemblies are replaced. The spent fuel assemblies are removed to cooling
pools at the reactor site.

At the refinery, the yellowcake is dissolved in nitric acid. The resulting solution of
uranium nitrate, UO2(NO3)2 6H2O, is fed into a continuous solvent extraction process.
The uranium is extracted into an organic phase (kerosene) with tributyl
phosphate, and the impurities remain again in the aqueous phase.
After this purification, the uranium is washed out of the kerosene with dilute
nitric acid and concentrated by evaporation to pure UO2(NO3)26H2O. Heating
yields pure UO3.
The initial separation and refining processes generate large volumes of acid
and organic waste.
It is necessary to enrich the U-235 isotope concentration from its natural
composition of 0.7% for use as reactor fuel or weapons components.
Reactor grade uranium contains from 0.8 to 8.0% U-235, while weapons
grade uranium contains more than 90% of the lighter U-235 isotope.
Because the uranium isotopes have identical chemical properties, the processes employed for
enrichment must use physical techniques which take advantage of the slight differences in
their masses.
15.a)(i) Explain clearly Spent fuel characteristics of nuclear power plant.

Inside a nuclear reactor the nuclei of U-235 atoms split (fission) and, in the process,
release energy.

This energy is used to heat water and turn it into steam. The steam is used to
drive a turbine connected to a generator which produces electricity. Some of
the U-238 in the fuel is turned into plutonium in the reactor core.

The main plutonium isotope is also fissile and this yields about one third of
the energy in a typical nuclear reactor.

The fissioning of uranium (and the plutonium generated in situ) is used as a

source of heat in a nuclear power station in the same way that the burning of
coal, gas or oil is used as a source of heat in a fossil fuel power plant.

Typically, some 44 million kilowatt-hours of electricity are produced from one tonne of
natural uranium.

The production of this amount of electrical power from fossil fuels would require the
burning of over 20,000 tonnes of black coal or 8.5 million cubic metres of gas.

An issue in operating reactors and hence specifying the fuel for them is fuel burn-up. This is
measured in gigawatt-days per tonne and its potential is proportional to the level of

Hitherto a limiting factor has been the physical robustness of fuel assemblies, and
hence burn-up levels of about 40 GWd/t have required only around 4% enrichment.

But with better equipment and fuel assemblies, 55 GWd/t is possible (with 5%
enrichment), and 70 GWd/t is in sight, though this would require 6% enrichment.

The benefit of this is that operation cycles can be longer around 24 months and the
number of fuel assemblies discharged as used fuel can be reduced by one third.
Associated fuel cycle cost is expected to be reduced by about 20%.

As with as a coal-fired power station about two thirds of the heat is dumped,

either to a large volume of water (from the sea or large river, heating it a few degrees)
or to a relatively smaller volume of water in cooling towers, using evaporative cooling
(latent heat of vapourisation).

With time, the concentration of fission fragments and heavy elements formed in the same
way as plutonium in the fuel will increase to the point where it is no longer practical to
continue to use the fuel.

So after 12-24 months the 'spent fuel' is removed from the reactor. The amount of
energy that is produced from a fuel bundle varies with the type of reactor and the
policy of the reactor operator.

When removed from a reactor, the fuel will be emitting both radiation, principally
from the fission fragments, and heat.

Used fuel is unloaded into a storage pond immediately adjacent to the reactor to
allow the radiation levels to decrease.

In the ponds the water shields the radiation and absorbs the heat. Used fuel is held in
such pools for several months to several years. It may be transferred to ventilated dry
storage on site.

Depending on policies in particular countries, some used fuel may be transferred to central
storage facilities. Ultimately, used fuel must either be reprocessed or prepared for permanent

Used fuel is about 94% U-238 but it also contains almost 1% U-235 that has not
fissioned, almost 1% plutonium and 4% fission products, which are highly
radioactive, with other transuranic elements formed in the reactor.

In a reprocessing facility the used fuel is separated into its three components:
uranium, plutonium and waste, which contains fission products.

Reprocessing enables recycling of the uranium and plutonium into fresh fuel, and
produces a significantly reduced amount of waste (compared with treating all used
fuel as waste). See page on Processing of Used Nuclear Fuel.

According to Areva, about eight fuel assemblies reprocessed can yield one MOX fuel

two-thirds of an enriched uranium fuel assembly, and about three tonnes of depleted
uranium (enrichment tails) plus about 150 kg of wastes. It avoids the need to
purchase about 12 tonnes of natural uranium from a mine.

The uranium from reprocessing, which typically contains a slightly higher

concentration of U-235 than occurs in nature, can be reused as fuel after conversion
and enrichment.

The plutonium can be directly made into mixed oxide (MOX) fuel, in which uranium
and plutonium oxides are combined.

In reactors that use MOX fuel, plutonium substitutes for the U-235 in normal
uranium oxide fuel (see page on Mixed Oxide (MOX) Fuel).

15.a)(ii) Explain the Uranium milling,Conversion and enrichment.

Uranium milling
Milling, which is generally carried out close to a uranium mine, extracts the uranium
from the ore. Most mining facilities include a mill, although where mines are close
together, one mill may process the ore from several mines.]

Milling produces a uranium oxide concentrate which is shipped from the mill. It is
sometimes referred to as 'yellowcake' and generally contains more than 80% uranium.
The original ore may contain as little as 0.1% uranium, or even less.

In a mill, uranium is extracted from the crushed and ground-up ore by leaching, in which
either a strong acid or a strong alkaline solution is used to dissolve the uranium oxide.

The uranium oxide is then precipitated and removed from the solution. After drying
and usually heating it is packed in 200-litre drums as a concentrate, sometimes
referred to as 'yellowcake'.

The remainder of the ore, containing most of the radioactivity and nearly all the rock
material, becomes tailings, which are emplaced in engineered facilities near the mine
(often in mined out pit).

Tailings need to be isolated from the environment because they contain long-lived
radioactive materials in low concentrations and toxic materials such as heavy metals;
however, the total quantity of radioactive elements is less than in the original ore, and
their collective radioactivity will be much shorter-lived.

Conversion and enrichment

The uranium oxide product of a uranium mill is not directly usable as a fuel for a nuclear
reactor and additional processing is required.

Only 0.7% of natural uranium is 'fissile', or capable of undergoing fission, the

process by which energy is produced in a nuclear reactor. The form, or isotope, of
uranium which is fissile is the uranium-235 (U-235) isotope.

The remainder is uranium-238 (U-238). For most kinds of reactor, the concentration
of the fissile uranium-235 isotope needs to be increased typically to between 3.5%
and 5% U-235.

This is done by a process known as enrichment, which requires the uranium to be in a

gaseous form. The uranium oxide concentrate is therefore first converted to uranium
hexafluoride, which is a gas at relatively low temperatures.

At a conversion facility, the uranium oxide is first refined to uranium dioxide, which
can be used as the fuel for those types of reactors that do not require enriched

Most is then converted into uranium hexafluoride, ready for the enrichment plant.
The main hazard of this stage of the fuel cycle is the use of hydrogen fluoride.

The uranium hexafluoride is then drained into 14-tonne cylinders where it solidifies.
These strong metal containers are shipped to the enrichment plant.

The enrichment process separates gaseous uranium hexafluoride into two streams, one being
enriched to the required level and known as low-enriched uranium; the other stream is
progressively depleted in U-235 and is called 'tails', or simply depleted uranium.

There are two enrichment processes in large-scale commercial use, each of which uses
uranium hexafluoride gas as feed: diffusion and centrifuge.

These processes both use the physical properties of molecules, specifically the 1%
mass difference between the two uranium isotopes, to separate them. The last
diffusion enrichment plants are likely to be phased out by 2013.

The product of this stage of the nuclear fuel cycle is enriched uranium hexafluoride,
which is reconverted to produce enriched uranium oxide.

Up to this point the fuel material can be considered fungible (though enrichment
levels vary), but fuel fabrication involves very specific design.

15.b) Explain the gas centrifuge method of enrichment.

Gas centrifuge
A gas centrifuge is a device that performs isotope separation of gases. A centrifuge relies on
the principles of centrifugal forceaccelerating molecules so that particles of different masses
are physically separated in a gradient along the radius of a rotating container.

A prominent use of gas centrifuges is for the separation of uranium235 from uranium-238. The gas centrifuge was developed to replace the gaseous
diffusion method of uranium-235 extraction.

High degrees of separation of these isotopes relies on using many individual

centrifuges arranged in cascade, that achieve successively higher concentrations.

This process yields higher concentrations of uranium-235 while using significantly

less energy compared to the gaseous diffusion process.

The uranium from reprocessing, which typically contains a slightly higher

concentration of U-235 than occurs in nature, can be reused as fuel after conversion
and enrichment.

The plutonium can be directly made into mixed oxide (MOX) fuel, in which uranium and
plutonium oxides are combined

Gas centrifugation process .

The gas centrifugation process utilizes a unique design that allows gas to constantly flow in
and out of the centrifuge.

Unlike most centrifuges which rely on batch processing, the gas centrifuge utilizes
continuous processing, allowing cascading, in which multiple identical processes
occur in succession.

The gas centrifuge consists of a cylindrical rotor, a casing, an electric motor, and
three lines for material to travel. The gas centrifuge is designed with a casing that
completely encloses the centrifuge.

The cylindrical rotor is located inside the casing, which is evacuated of all air to
produce a near frictionless rotation when operating. The motor spins the rotor,
creating the centripetal force on the components as they enter the cylindrical rotor.

There are two output lines, one located at the top of the centrifuge and the other
located at the bottom. The heavier molecules will segregate to the bottom of the
centrifuge while the lighter molecules will segregate to the top of the centrifuge.

The output lines take these separations to other centrifuges to continue to the
centrifugation process. The process began with the rotor is balanced in three
stages. Most of the technical work on gas centrifuges is hardly available because it is
shrouded in nuclear secrecy.

Separative work units.

The separative work unit (SWU) is a measure of the amount of work done by the centrifuge
and has units of mass (typically kilogram separative work unit).

The work
necessary to separate a mass of feed of assay
into a mass
of product assay , and tails of mass and assay is expressed in terms of the
number of separative work units needed, given by the expression


is the value function, defined as

Practical application of centrifugation.

Separating Uranium-235 from Uranium-238

The separation of uranium requires the material in a gaseous form; uranium

hexafluoride (UF6) is used for uranium enrichment. Upon entering the centrifuge
cylinder, the UF6gas is rotated at a high speed.

The rotation creates a strong centrifugal force that draws more of the heavier gas
molecules (containing the U-238) toward the wall of the cylinder, while the lighter
gas molecules (containing the U-235) tend to collect closer to the center.

The stream that is slightly enriched in U-235 is withdrawn and fed into the next
higher stage, while the slightly depleted stream is recycled back into the next lower

Separation of zinc isotopes.

For some uses in nuclear technology, the content of zinc-64 in zinc metal has to be
lowered in order to prevent formation of radioisotopes by its neutron activation.

Diethyl zinc is used as the gaseous feed medium for the centrifuge cascade. An
example of a resulting material is depleted zinc oxide, used as a corrosion inhibitor.


5th Semester B.E. MECHANICAL.
Sub. Code :ME2034
Duration :3 Hours

Date : 30.07.2015
Branch: MECH
Max. Marks : 100

Part A - (10 x 2 = 20) Answer all the question


What is amu? What is its importance in nuclear physics?

What is called plum pudding?
What is nuclear binding energy/?
Define mass defect.
What is meant by elastic scattering?
What are called fissile isotopes?
What are the conditions satisfied to sustain nuclear fission process?
Distinguish between fission and nuclear fusion.

9. State the role of fuel fabrication in nuclear fuel cycle.

State the benefit of reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel.

Part B - (5 x 16 = 80) Answer all questions as per the choice

11 a)

(i).Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of nuclear power.

(ii). Explain in nuclear binding energy? How is it measured?

b).Discuss the elementary treatment of an atom.



12. a)(i)State the law of mass energy equivalence and calculate the energy in kW likely to be
produced by one gram of matter taking light velocity as 3 x10^8 m/sec.
(ii)Write short notes on Mass less particles.


.b) (i) Define half life, mean life and decay constant.
(ii) Explain various types of decay in atomic nucleus.


13. a) (i). Write a brief note on neutron interactions and cross sections.


(ii). Discuss how inelastic scattering differs from elastic scattering.


b) What is chain reaction? How it is maintained? What is the difference between controlled
and uncontrolled chain reaction? Explain with neat sketches and with examples.

14.a)(i) . Write short notes on critical mass.

(ii) Write short notes on Nuclear fuel cycles and its characteristics.


14.b)(i) Write short notes on Uranium production and purification.


(ii) Explain the nuclear fuel.


15.a)(i) Explain clearly Spent fuel characteristics of nuclear power plant.


(ii) Explain the Uranium milling, Conversion and enrichment.



.b) Explain the gas centrifuge method of enrichment.