Question Video: Nuclear Radiation and Electricity Generation | Nagwa Question Video: Nuclear Radiation and Electricity Generation | Nagwa

Question Video: Nuclear Radiation and Electricity Generation Science • Third Year of Preparatory School

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Which of the following statements correctly describes how the emission of nuclear radiation by decaying atomic nuclei can be used in electricity generation? [A] The energy of the particles and waves emitted as nuclear radiation can be transferred to thermal energy. [B] Batteries that transfer the chemical energy of the emitted nuclear radiation to electrical energy can be made.

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Video Transcript

Which of the following statements correctly describes how the emission of nuclear radiation by decaying atomic nuclei can be used in electricity generation? (A) The energy of the particles and waves emitted as nuclear radiation can be transferred to thermal energy. Or (B) batteries that transfer the chemical energy of the emitted nuclear radiation to electrical energy can be made.

Let’s start by recalling that unstable atomic nuclei can sometimes undergo spontaneous changes known as nuclear decay. And when atomic nuclei decay, they emit particles and waves known as nuclear radiation. Materials which contain unstable nuclei are known as radioactive. And electricity generation is one of the main applications of radioactive materials. This question gives us two statements about how radioactive materials are used to generate electricity.

Now there are two main ways in which we can produce electricity using radioactive materials. The first is in nuclear power plants. In nuclear power plants, the energy of the nuclear radiation given off by radioactive materials is used to boil water. This process transfers energy from nuclear energy in the nuclei of atoms to thermal energy in the water. This causes the water to boil, turning it into steam, and the steam can then be used to turn turbines, which generate electricity.

The other method of using radioactivity to produce electricity is in nuclear batteries. Nuclear batteries contain small amounts of radioactive material. And the radiation given off by this material converts nuclear energy into thermal energy, which is then used to generate electricity. Nuclear batteries are different to nuclear power stations in that they don’t use water and they don’t have any moving parts. However, both nuclear batteries and nuclear power plants involve the transfer of nuclear energy to thermal energy via nuclear radiation. This means that statement (A) is correct. In both nuclear power plants and nuclear batteries, the energy of the particles and waves emitted as nuclear radiation is transferred to thermal energy which is then used to generate electricity.

But what about statement (B)? After all, we know that nuclear batteries use radiation to produce electricity. There’s actually just one word in this statement that makes it incorrect: chemical. Statement (B) says that we can make batteries which transfer the chemical energy of nuclear radiation to electrical energy, but this is incorrect since nuclear radiation does not have chemical energy. So we know that statement (B) is incorrect. And the correct answer is statement (A).

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