Nuclear reactions, such as fission and fusion, are accompanied by large energy changes that are much greater than those that accompany chemical reactions. These nuclear reactions can theoretically be used as a controlled source of energy in a nuclear power plant. There are advantages and disadvantages of generating electricity from fission and fusion.
The basics of nuclear forces, isotopes, radioactive decay, fission and fusion were addressed in the physical science syllabus. In chemistry, specific types of radioactive decay and using nuclear reactions as a source of energy are addressed. Radioactive decay can result in the release of different types of radiation (alpha, beta, gamma, positron) each with a characteristic mass, charge and potential to ionize and penetrate the material it strikes. Beta decay results from the decay of a neutron and positron decay results from the decay of a proton. When a radioisotope undergoes alpha, beta or positron decay, the resulting nucleus can be predicted and the balanced nuclear equation can be written.