How do nuclear reactions generate electricity?

1 Answer
Sep 25, 2014

Nuclear reactions generate the electricity in nuclear power stations through the radioactive decay of elements into lighter elements.

An example of this would be the use of uranium-235 in nuclear fission reactors, whereby the atom of uranium emits an alpha particle, that is to say, a helium nucleus, and decays by alpha particle emission into the element thorium-231. This element, being in the same series a uranium in the periodic table, the actinides series, is also radioactive, and can decay further into the element
radium- 229.

These elements are both in the uranium decay series, and will continue to decay until they reach a stable isotope of an element, which, in this case, is lead-207.