Energy and Its Social Uses PHYS-180 Wolfson Textbook
Chapter 7 - Nuclear Energy Assigned
Nuclear Energy Assigned
1. Plutonium-239 is the fissile material that is used in nuclear weapons.
It is sometimes written with the following notation.
What is the upper left superscript (239) called? What does it represent? What is the lower left subscript (94) called? What does it represent? How many neutrons are present in the
2. Based on data in your textbook, which country gets the highest percentage of its electricity from nuclear power? Which state in the United States gets the highest percentage of its electricity from nuclear power?
3. Explain the role of the moderator in a nuclear reactor and describe why the use of the same water as moderator and coolant is an inherent safety feature of light-water reactors.
4. Is it possible for a nuclear power plant to explode like an atomic weapon?
Give the reasons supporting your answer.
5. Magnesium (Mg) has an atomic number of 12. It has three stable isotopes with the following natural abundances: 79% Mg-24, 10% Mg-25 and 11% Mg-26.
Calculate the atomic mass of magnesium.
6. Copper (Cu) has an atomic mass is 63.6 amu. Natural copper consists of just two stable isotopes of which 69.1% is Cu-63. What's the other isotope? Show your calculation.
7. The radioactive isotope californium-253 has a half-life of 18 days. If you begin with 60 grams of this isotope, how much is remaining after 90 days?
8. The Sun generates energy at the rate of about 3.9 × 1026 W. Read Box 7.1 and use Einstein's equation to verify that the Sun loses mass at the rate of about 4 million tonnes per second.
9. Figure 2.6b shows that some 4% of the world's primary energy supply comes from nuclear power plants. Use this figure, along with the "World Energy Consumption" data from inside the front cover of the textbook and "The Energy Content of Fuels" table inside the back cover, to calculate the R/P ratio for uranium. Your answer should confirm the text's assertion that uranium reserves might last at most a couple of centuries.
10. Roughly half the fuel for U.S. nuclear power plants operating in the first 15 years of the twenty-first century came from the "Megatons to Megawatts" program that recycled uranium from Russian nuclear weapons. Use this fact, along with data from Figure 7.1 in the text, to verify the text's statement that 10% of all U.S. electricity in the early twenty-first century came from recycled nuclear bombs.
11. The fission of plutonium reaction is written as follows. One neutron combines with Pu-239 on the left side of the reaction. The products on the right side are one atom of xenon-134
(Xe-134), 3 neutrons, and an atom of one other element labeled here with the symbol "Q". Identify "Q" and calculate its values of "A" and "N".
12. Radium results from a sequence of reactions that begins with U-238 undergoing the alpha decay described in Equation 7.1. Two beta decays follow, and then two more alpha decays. Write equations for these four additional reactions, correctly identifying the intermediate isotopes.
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