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Chemistry
Nuclear Energy

If an iron nucleus split in two would its fission fragments have more or less mass per nucleus?

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February 06, 2009 11:12PM

Iron has a stable nucleus, the most common isotope has 26 protons and 30 neutrons (Fe56). Elements around this point in the periodic table, like iron and nickel, have the highest binding energy of any nuclei, so they do not experience fission. Fission only ocurs with heavy nuclei such as U235 and PU 239 and a few others in that area, and when they fission they split into two fragments of elements which have higher binding energy. In these cases the total mass of the fission fragments is less than the mass of the original nucleus, and this is where the nuclear energy comes from, by E = mc2