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School Physics revision notes: (f) Nuclear energy stores

TYPES OF ENERGY STORE - examples explained

(f) Nuclear energy stores

Doc Brown's Physics Exam Revision Notes: This page will help you answer questions such as ...  What is nuclear energy?  What is a nuclear energy store?   Describe an example of a nuclear energy store

Index of types of energy stores/transfers


Nuclear energy and nuclear energy stores

  • This is energy associated with the structure of atomic nuclei.

    • Atomic nuclei are nuclear energy stores and their energy is released in nuclear reactions.

    • Einstein's famous equation relates energy to mass: E = mc2.

    • When nuclear changes happen there are changes in the mass of the products and tiny amounts of mass are converted into energy - heat or electromagnetic radiation..

    • Any mass loss (m), however small, releases huge amounts of energy (E) as the nuclear energy store decreases.

  • Nuclear energy released when the nucleus of an atom undergoes a nuclear reaction e.g.

    • Alpha, beta and gamma radioactive decay radiations release energy - but not in a form useful in power generation.

    • Nuclear fission reactions when larger atoms like uranium are split by neutrons to form smaller atoms - this process is used in nuclear power stations.

      • (c) doc b a nuclear fission reaction involving a uranium atom

    • Nuclear fusion is when smaller atoms come together to form a larger atom, but this also releases huge amounts of nuclear energy e.g. hydrogen ==> helium in a star like our Sun.

      • (c) doc b a nuclear fusion of hydrogen atoms into helium atoms.

  • All these nuclear processes release huge amounts of nuclear energy and the energy from fission can be harnessed to power steam turbine generators to drive generators producing electricity.

    • The energy from a nuclear energy stores is caused by nuclear changes in the nucleus of unstable atoms.

    • A nuclear change releases a relatively large quantity of energy per unit mass compared to e.g. fossil fuels.

  • It is hoped one day that nuclear fusion will provide the energy, but not practical at the moment!


Keywords, phrases and learning objectives on nuclear energy stores

Know that energy from a nuclear energy stores arises from nuclear changes in the nucleus of unstable atoms.

Know that a nuclear changes releases a relatively large quantity of energy per unit mass compared to e.g. fossil fuels.


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Specific notes on types of energy and energy stores and associated calculations

FULL INDEX of Types of energy & stores - examples compared/explained, calculations of mechanical work done & power notes

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