Programme And Module Handbook
Course Details in 2019/20 Session

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Module Title Fission and Fusion
SchoolPhysics and Astronomy
Department Physics & Astronomy
Module Code 03 01349
Module Lead DR. Tungate
Level Honours Level
Credits 10
Semester Semester 1
Pre-requisites Nuclear Physics and Neutrinos - (03 17301)
Restrictions 03 17300 (LI Nuclear Physics and Electrons in Solids) or 03 17301 (LI Nuclear Physics and Neutrinos) are advised as prerequisites
Contact Hours Guided independent study-76 hours
Lecture-24 hours
Total: 100 hours

Before looking in detail at the physics of nuclear power there will be a discussion of the role of nuclear power in today’s energy market. The module then looks at the physics underpinning the production of electrical power by current fission reactors and proposed fusion reactors. It will introduce the basic nuclear physics of the processes of fission and fusion, putting this in the context of nuclear binding energies. By studying the processes of neutron production, moderation and absorption we will be able to derive a model for the neutron distribution in the core of a fission reactor and use this to
calculate conditions required to sustain a nuclear chain reaction. Control and safety of fission reactors will be examined as will a number of accidents. About a third of the module will be devoted to the study of emerging terrestrial fusion systems, which promise fewer of the radioactive waste products associated with fission reactors. The basic ideas of fusion reactions in plasmas will be discussed as well as current and future reactor designs. 

Learning Outcomes

By the end of the module students should be able to:

  • Understand the basic physics involved in the processes of nuclear fission and fusion;
  • Calculate the conditions required to make a fission reactor critical, based on a detailed understanding of neutron balance in the system;
  • Calculate the time dependence of a fission reactor and understand positive and negative feedback and their implications for reactor safety.
  • Calculate the conditions required to make a fusion reactor achieve breakeven, based on a detailed understanding of the energy balance in fusion plasmas;
  • Understand the interaction of physics, technology and economics in energy production.
Assessment 01349-01 : Exam : Exam (Centrally Timetabled) - Written Unseen (100%)
Assessment Methods & Exceptions 2 hr written examination
Other none
Reading List