Physics
Nuclear Energy

The amount of fissionable fuel needed for a reaction to proceed on its own?

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2012-11-14 12:09:55
2012-11-14 12:09:55

The number you are asking for (the critical size) varies dramatically with reactor design and fuel enrichment level, a large power reactor may need thousands of tons of yellowcake while a small research or medical reactor could operate on as little as about 1Kg Highly Enriched Uranium.

Some examples of actual reactor fuel loads:

  • X-10, 54.1 tons slightly enriched Uranium metal
  • NRX, 10.5 tons natural Uranium
  • SUPO, 870 grams 88.7% enriched Uranyl Nitrate in water solution
  • Calder Hall, 130 tons natural Uranium
  • Shippingport, 14.16 tons natural Uranium yellowcake & 75Kg Highly Enriched Uranium metal
  • AHPR, 90Kg highly enriched Uranyl Sulfate & Uranyl Nitrate in water solution
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Related Questions


Critical Mass is that minimum amount of fissionable material needed to maintain a chain reaction



Enzymes act as catalysts. Depending on the reaction, the enzymes can either raise or lower the energy needed for it to proceed. Every reaction is different.


The words fissile and fissionable are not generally taken to mean the same thing. Fissile materials can sustain a chain reaction with low energy neutrons. Fissionable materials can sustain a chain reaction, but only if the energy of the neutrons present is sufficiently high. Critical mass is the amount of material needed, in ideal circumstances, to start a chain reaction without neutrons other than those produced internally. 235U is fissile, and has a critical mass of 52 kg. 238U is fissionable, but there is no critical mass because no amount of uranium-238 suffices to produce a chain reaction. A mix of 235U and 238U can have critical mass, depending on the percentage of 235U present. Natural deposits of uranium do not have a high enough percentage of 235U to produce critical mass, even if the uranium is purified. But by removing some of the 238U, we produce enriched uranium, which can achieve critical mass. The lower the percentage of 235U present, the higher the amount needed to have a chain reaction. Other materials present also increase the amount needed, as do such things as the shape of the mass. The minimum amount for a critical mass is a pure sphere. You can decrease the critical mass by surrounding the material with something that reflects neutrons. Strictly speaking, however, the amount of fissionable material does not determine a likelihood of a chain reaction. You have enough fissile material, or you don't, so it is not a matter of likelihood.


Enzymes allow reactions to occur at body temperature, that would not normally occur at that temperature. They accomplish this by lowering the amount of activation energy needed to have the reaction proceed.


They lower the activation energy needed to kick off the reaction and hence make the reaction proceed faster.


At less than critical mass, there are fewer "targets" for neutrons to strike, fission, and release more neutrons. As a result, the reaction dies out.


A catalyst reduces the energy needed for a reaction to occur. Once the energy needed has been reduced, the reaction can proceed more quickly.No, catalysts speed up chemical reactions.


What term refers to the amount of energy needed to begin a chemical reaction


It decreases the amount of energy needed for the reaction.


The minimum amount of unstable atoms needed to produce an uncontrolled chain reaction is called?


Catalysts. They lower the amount of energy needed for the reaction to occur.


Activation energy is the amount of energy needed to start a reaction.


The minimum amount of energy needed for a reaction to take place is called the activation energy.


The minimum amount of unstable atoms needed to produce an uncontrolled chain reaction is called critical mass.


true activation energy is the minimum amount of energy needed to start a chemical reaction


The amount of energy necessary to cause a chemical reaction to occur is called activation energy.


A catalyst speeds up the reaction and lowers the amount of heat needed.


Yes, enzymes act as catalysts and lower the amount of activation energy needed for the chemical reaction. They provide a 'different pathway' to the reaction.



Materials NeededMaterials needed to make an atomic bomb are:fissionable material (Plutonium239 isotope)explosive to start the nuclear chain reaction (TNT, Gelignite or semtex)detonatorpusher (made from aluminium, beryllium)


Without an enzyme, the activation energy needed to start a reaction is much greater. An enzyme is a catalyst, which decreases the amount of activation energy needed to start a reaction. By doing so, it decreases the amount of time the chemical reaction takes place.


False, enzymes lower activation energies which allow the reaction to proceed at an increased rate.



The comparative amount of each needed for a balanced reaction.



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