The key difference between hydrogen and atomic bomb is that in hydrogen bombs, both fission and fusion reactions take place whereas in atomic bombs only fission reactions occur.
Nuclear weapons are destructive weapons that can release the energy from a nuclear reaction. We can categorize these reactions into two categories as fission reactions and fusion reactions. In nuclear weapons, we use either a fission reaction or combinations of fission and fusion reactions. In a fission reaction, a large unstable nucleus splits into smaller stable nuclei and in the process, energy releases. Likewise, in a fusion reaction, two types of nuclei combine together, releasing energy. Atomic bomb and hydrogen bomb are two types of bombs, which contain energy, and that releases from the above reactions to cause explosions.
What is Hydrogen Bomb?
The hydrogen bomb is a very powerful bomb, and its destructive power comes from the rapid release of energy during the nuclear fusion of hydrogen isotopes; that is deuterium and tritium, using an atom bomb as a trigger. These are more complex than atomic bombs. We can name the hydrogen bomb as a thermonuclear weapon.
In brief, the fusion reaction initiates when two hydrogen isotopes which are deuterium and tritium fuse to form helium, releasing energy. That is why we call it a hydrogen bomb. There, the centre of the bomb has a very large number of tritium and deuterium. However, nuclear fusion triggers by a 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 afterwards, releasing energy. 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 of the bomb to undergo fission reactions releasing more energy. Therefore, the core triggers few atomic bomb explosions too.
What is Atomic Bomb?
Atomic bombs release energy through 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 is a small amount of atoms, the released energy can’t do much harm.
In a bomb, the atoms tightly pack with the force of the TNT explosion. Therefore, when a Uranium nucleus decays and emits 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 release at the end. And, this will take place as a chain reaction, and the number of neutrons and energy will release in an exponentially increasing manner.
Because of the dense TNT packing, these released neutrons can’t escape. Thereby, all nuclei will break down causing huge energy. Bomb explosion takes place when this energy releases to the outside. For instance, the bomb dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki during world war 2 was an atomic bomb.
What is the Difference Between Hydrogen and Atomic Bomb?
The hydrogen bomb is a very powerful bomb, and its destructive power comes from the rapid release of energy during the nuclear fusion of the hydrogen isotopes; that is, deuterium and tritium, using an atom bomb as a trigger. The atomic bomb is a powerful bomb in which the destructive power comes from the rapid release of energy during the nuclear fission reactions of unstable nuclei. Therefore, the key difference between hydrogen and atomic bomb is that in hydrogen bombs, both fission and fusion reactions take place whereas in atomic bombs only fission reactions occur.
A difference between hydrogen and atomic bomb in terms of efficiency is that the hydrogen bomb releases a very high amount of energy. But, in contrast, the atomic bomb releases comparatively a low energy. Furthermore, we can identify a difference between hydrogen and atomic bomb based on the mechanism of action of each type of bomb too. Firstly, in a hydrogen bomb, the fusion occurs via fusing deuterium and tritium nuclei to form helium nuclei followed by the triggering of fission from atomic bombs whereas in atomic bomb uranium or plutonium nuclei break down releasing neutrons and energy. Stemming from the above, an important difference between hydrogen bomb and atomic bomb is that the energy sources for hydrogen bomb are the isotopes of hydrogens; deuterium and tritium, whereas the energy source for an atomic bomb is the unstable nuclei such as uranium and plutonium.
Summary – Hydrogen vs Atomic Bomb
Hydrogen bomb and atomic bomb are nuclear weapons that can cause huge destruction. The key difference between hydrogen and atomic bomb is that in hydrogen bombs, both fission and fusion reactions take place whereas in atomic bombs only fission reactions occur.
1. Britannica, The Editors of Encyclopaedia. “Thermonuclear Bomb.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 6 Oct. 2017. Available here
2. “How Do Nuclear Weapons Work?” Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. Available here
1.”Castle Bravo 007″By Federal government of the United States (Public Domain) via Commons Wikimedia
2.”Atomic bombing of Japan”By George R. Caron – Nagasakibomb.jpgAtomic_cloud_over_Hiroshima.jpg, (Public Domain) via Commons Wikimedia