Uploaded by Kim Carrascal

Reactor engineering

Basic Radiation and Nuclear Physics
The realm of nuclear physics brought major impact to the technological advancement that
influences the society where we live today. From the discovery of nuclear power to the creation of
nuclear weapon and age estimation of historical artifacts through radiocarbon dating, the
applications of nuclear physics provided significant changes to the global modernization. The
technological applications of nuclear physics require the skills and knowledge of chemical
engineers especially in energy industry like nuclear power plants. In this meeting, we have learned
the basic concepts on radiation and nuclear physics. These include the nuclear, fission, nuclear
fusion, uses of isotopes and biological effects of radiation.
The discussion highlights the difference between nuclear reaction and chemical reaction.
In chemical reactions, only electrons are involved in the breaking and forming of bonds while in
nuclear reactions, the protons, neutrons and electrons may be involved. Another topic discussed is
nuclear stability. Nuclear stability suggests that the nucleus of an element is stable; hence, it does
not decay. It was mentioned that nuclei with even numbers of both protons and neutrons are more
stable than that with odd number of protons and electrons. Nuclear fission and fusion were also
explained during the meeting. From the word itself, nuclear fission means splitting of nucleus into
2 nuclei while nuclear fusion happens when 2 nuclei combine releasing huge amount of energy.
The application of nuclear radiation in medical technology and food preservation was also
discussed. Furthermore, the proper handling and disposal of hazardous wastes was raised during
the meeting.
Nuclear physics has a wide array of applications that require the skills of chemical
engineers. In wastewater treatment, radiation technology is used wherein wastewater are exposed
to gamma rays to eliminate harmful microorganism. Similarly, food irradiation technology
provides safety and extends the shelf life of most food by eliminating microorganisms. This
technology is commonly used in manufacturing of milk and other dairy products, and canning of
foods and vegetables. In medical field, on the other hand, radiation therapy utilizes immense
radiation to kill cancer cells and reduces the size of tumors. These applications that have significant
contribution to the modernization rely on people who are experts in the field of nuclear physics
including chemical engineers. As a chemical engineering student, these ingenious applications
drive me to have a deeper understanding on the world of nuclear physics.