Difference Between Nuclear Fusion and Fission

Nuclear Fusion vs Fission

In physics, it is taught that an action always has an equal but opposite reaction. That is the ultimate philosophy in physics and thereby all events and actions always have a corresponding opposite reaction. This is the main core of nuclear fusion and nuclear fission. These are two different types of reactions which releases certain amounts of energy. In simple chemistry, one creates smaller atoms while the other one combines atoms to form a larger one.

What is Nuclear Fusion?

Nuclear fusion by definition means the fusing of two or more atoms to create a larger one. This type of reaction allows the atoms to combine in order to create a larger atom with a higher atomic number. One way of making a nuclear fusion to occur is by allowing two or more nuclei to be near each other to form a reaction which causes the atoms to stick together and combine to form as one. Nuclear fusion is said to occur in nature naturally. A good example would be the stars in the galaxy. It is said that millions of stars have fused to become one giant massive heat we now refer to as the sun.

What is Nuclear Fission?

Nuclear fission is the opposite of nuclear fusion. Nuclear fission is the division of a large atom into two or more smaller pieces. In order to create fission, two conditions should be met: a very slow neutron is necessary for the process of division to occur and a minimal amount of a particular substance for fission to occur. This amount is called critical mass, which is dependent on the neutron itself. A nuclear fission does not occur in nature the way fusion does.

What is the difference between Nuclear Fission and Fusion?

Both nuclear fusion and fission releases very large and substantial amounts of energy and both share the same energy source, which is the atom itself. The difference between them allows us to understand the process better and will also help us understand the concept of both nuclear fusion and nuclear fission.

  • Nuclear fusion takes two atoms and combines them into one whereas nuclear fission takes one atom and splits it into two.
  • Unless a fission “trigger” is present, nuclear fusion produces radioactive particles, whereas nuclear fission always creates radioactive substances as its by-products that remain active for hundreds of years.
  • Nuclear fusions occur in nature. Nuclear fissions do not naturally occur. 

In Brief:

1. Nuclear fission and fusion both releases large amounts of energy.

2. Both produce energy from the same energy source: atom.

3. Nuclear fusion occurs in nature; the sun is the most basic example while fission, on the other hand, does not occur naturally.

4. Nuclear fusion is the combination of 2 or more atoms to create 1 large atom. Nuclear fission is the division of a larger atom into 2 or smaller atomic particles.

5. In nuclear fusion, two or more nuclei should be near each other in order to create energy for both to stick together. Nuclear fission, on the other hand, needs to have a critical mass and a very slow neutron for the splitting to occur