Also referred to as nuclear fission, splitting an atom results in its overall mass being reduced, causing the release of a relatively massive amount of energy. Virtually every atom can generate nuclear energy in this way, but those with the greatest atomic mass will provide the most energy from fission.
Nuclear reactors rely on fission to generate heat, which then causes cooling pools to boil, driving steam turbines. In other cases, it is the sudden and violent fission process that results in nuclear detonations that can devastate huge geographic areas. The process itself is remarkably efficient, but requires a large investment of initial energy to generate. In opposition to fission, the fusion process by which two atoms are joined generates several times as much energy, but does not present the risk of nuclear contamination or pollution. As well, spent isotope fuel rods remain hazardous for many thousands of years while the materials consumed during the fusion process remain safe to handle and transport. The most common fusion process, that of converting hydrogen and oxygen into water, is often the easiest and most frequently referred to. Not only are these two elements the most plentiful, they also join more readily than other elements.Learn More
Iron rusts when it comes in contact with oxygen and water. It rusts faster in acid rain and salty water. Both oxygen and water are necessary for rusting, which is an oxidation reaction.Full Answer >
Aluminum reacts with oxygen to form a layer of aluminum oxide on the outside of the metal, according to HowStuffWorks. This thin layer protects the underlying metal from corrosion caused by oxygen, water or other chemicals. Aluminum burns in oxygen with a white flame to form the trioxide aluminum (III) oxide, says WebElements. Chemists write the chemical reaction between aluminum and oxygen as: 4Al+ 3O2 = 2Al2O3.Full Answer >
Boron was discovered in 1808. French chemists Joseph-Louis Gay-Lussac and Louis-Jaques Thénard and English chemist Sir Humphry Davy independently isolated the element, and all three are credited with its discovery.Full Answer >
Noble gases are inert due to their complete electron shells. Their stable atomic structure makes the energy required to add or remove an electron prohibitively high, so the noble gases do not form compounds in natural conditions.Full Answer >