Difference Between Hydrogen and Atomic Bomb

Hydrogen vs Atomic Bomb

Nuclear weapons are destructive weapons, created to release the energy from a nuclear reaction. These reactions can be broadly categorized in to two, as fission reactions and fusion reactions. In nuclear weapons, either a fission reaction or combinations of fission and fusion reactions are used. In a fission reaction, a large unstable nucleus is split into smaller stable nuclei and in the process, energy is released. In a fusion reaction, two types of nuclei are combined together, releasing energy. Atomic bomb and hydrogen bomb are two types of bombs, which accommodate energy released from above reactions to cause explosions.

Atomic Bomb

Atomic bombs release energy through the nuclear fission reactions. The energy source for this is a large unstable radioactive element like Uranium or Plutonium. Since the Uranium nucleus is unstable, it breaks down to two smaller atoms emitting neutrons and energy constantly, to become stable. When there are a small amount of atoms, the released energy can’t do much harm. In a bomb, the atoms are tightly packed with the force of the TNT explosion. So, when a Uranium nucleus decay and emit neutrons, they can’t escape out. They collide with another nucleus to release more neutrons. Likewise, all the Uranium nuclei will hit by neutrons, and neutrons will be released. This will take place like a chain reaction, and the number of neutrons and energy will be released in an exponentially increasing manner. Because of the dense TNT packing, these released neutrons can’t escape. And with a fraction of a second all nuclei will break down causing a huge energy. Bomb explosion takes place when this energy is released. Example is the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki during world war 2.

Hydrogen Bomb

Hydrogen bombs are more complex than atomic bombs. Hydrogen bomb is also known as a thermonuclear weapon. In the fusion reaction, two hydrogen isotopes which are deuterium and tritium fuse to form helium, releasing energy. That is why it is called a hydrogen bomb. The centre of the bomb has a very large number of tritium and deuterium. Nuclear fusion is triggered by few atomic bombs placed in the outer cover of the bomb. They start to split and release neutrons and X–ray from Uranium. A chain reaction will start as described earlier. This energy causes the fusion reaction to occur at high pressures and high temperatures in the core region. When this reaction happens, the released energy causes the uranium in outer regions to undergo fission reactions releasing more energy. Therefore, the core triggers few atomic bomb explosions too.

What is the difference between a Hydrogen Bomb and Atomic Bomb?

- Atomic bomb is simpler than a hydrogen bomb.

- In atomic bombs fission reactions are taking place. In a hydrogen bomb, both fission and fusion reactions take place.

- In hydrogen bombs, tritium and deuterium isotopes are fused to form helium, but in fission reaction, a larger and unstable element like Uranium is used.

- Hydrogen bombs release much more energy than an atomic bomb. This is because in a hydrogen bomb, several atomic bombs are also included.