10 Difference Between Nuclear And Chemical Reactions

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What Is Nuclear Reaction?

Nuclear reaction is a process in which two nuclei or nucleus of an atom and a subatomic particle (such as a proton, neutron or high energy electron) from outside the atom, collide to produce one or more nuclides that are different from the nuclides that began the process (parent nuclei).

In principle, a reaction can involve more than two particles colliding but such an event is exceptionally rare. If particles collide and separate without changing, the process is referred to as an elastic collision rather than a reaction.

A nuclear reaction can be represented by an equation similar to a chemical equation and balanced in an analogous manner.

Generally, there are two types of nuclear reactions, that is, nuclear fusion and nuclear fission.  Nuclear fusion is a reaction in which two or more atomic nuclei are combined to form one or more different atomic nuclei and subatomic particles, whereas nuclear fission is the splitting of a large atomic nucleus into smaller nuclei.

What You Need To Know About Chemical Reactions

  1. During nuclear reactions, the nuclei of atoms undergo change and therefore new elements are formed as a result of such reactions. In other words, elements lose their identity.
  2. Nuclear reactions involve a change in an atom’s nucleus, producing a different element, along with emissions of radiations like alpha, beta and gamma.
  3. Rates of nuclear reactions are spontaneous and are unaffected by such factors.
  4. Nuclear reactions are mostly irreversible.
  5. Energy changes accompanying nuclear reactions are relatively higher and larger.
  6. There is no breaking of old bonds and formation of new bonds in a nuclear reaction.
  7. In a nuclear reaction, the protons and neutrons react inside the nucleus.
  8. Nuclear reactions involve the decomposition of the nucleus and have nothing to do with the electrons.
  9. Nuclear reactions are independent of the chemical form of the element.
  10. The nuclear chemistry of different isotopes varies greatly from each other.

What Is A Chemical Reaction?

Chemical reaction is a process in which one or more substances, the reactants are converted to one or more different substances, the products. Substances are either chemical elements or compounds. A chemical reaction rearranges the constituent atoms of the reactants to create different substances as products.

Typically, chemical reactions entail changes that only involve the position of electrons in the forming and breaking of chemical bonds between atoms, with no change to the nuclei and can be described by a chemical equation. Chemical equations symbolically present the starting materials, end products and sometimes intermediate products and reaction conditions.

Chemical reactions occur at a given temperature and chemical concentration. The reaction may proceed in the forward or reverse direction until it goes to completion or reach equilibrium.

What You Need To Know About Chemical Reactions

  1. During chemical reactions, elements do not lose their identity. In these reactions, only the electrons in the outermost shell of atoms participate whereas the nuclei of atoms remain unchanged.
  2. Chemical reactions involve only a rearrangement of electrons and do not involve changes in the nucleus.
  3. Rates of chemical reactions are influenced by external effect like temperature, pressure and catalysts.
  4. Chemical reactions can either be reversible or irreversible.
  5. During chemical reactions, there is low energy change.
  6. There is breaking of bonds and formation of new chemical bonds in a chemical reaction.
  7. In a chemical reaction, the electrons react outside the nucleus.
  8. The chemical reactions involve the transfer, loss, gain and sharing of electrons and nothing takes place in the nucleus.
  9. Chemical reactions are dependent of the chemical form of the element.
  10. Different isotopes of an element normally behave similarly in chemical reactions as their extra-nuclear electronic configurations are same.

Also Read: Difference Between Nuclear Fission And Nuclear Fusion

Between Nuclear And Chemical Reactions In Tabular Form

BASIS OF COMPARISON NUCLEAR REACTION CHEMICAL REACTION
Description During nuclear reactions, the nuclei of atoms undergo change and therefore new elements are formed as a result of such reactions. In other words, elements lose their identity.   During chemical reactions, elements do not lose their identity. In these reactions, only the electrons in the outermost shell of atoms participate whereas the nuclei of atoms remain unchanged.  
Involves Nuclear reactions involve a change in an atom’s nucleus, producing a different element, along with emissions of radiations like alpha, beta and gamma.   Chemical reactions involve only a rearrangement of electrons and do not involve changes in the nucleus.  
Effect Of External Factors Rates of nuclear reactions are spontaneous and are unaffected by such factors.   Rates of chemical reactions are influenced by external effect like temperature, pressure and catalysts.  
Reversibility Nuclear reactions are mostly irreversible.   Chemical reactions can either be reversible or irreversible.  
Energy Change Energy changes accompanying nuclear reactions are relatively higher and larger.   During chemical reactions, there is low energy change.  
Breaking Of Bonds There is no breaking of old bonds and formation of new bonds in a nuclear reaction.   There is breaking of bonds and formation of new chemical bonds in a chemical reaction.  
Occurrence In a nuclear reaction, the protons and neutrons react inside the nucleus.   In a chemical reaction, the electrons react outside the nucleus.  
Nature Nuclear reactions involve the decomposition of the nucleus and have nothing to do with the electrons.   The chemical reactions involve the transfer, loss, gain and sharing of electrons and nothing takes place in the nucleus.  
Dependency Nuclear reactions are independent of the chemical form of the element.   Chemical reactions are dependent of the chemical form of the element.  
Isotopes The nuclear chemistry of different isotopes varies greatly from each other.   Different isotopes of an element normally behave similarly in chemical reactions as their extra-nuclear electronic configurations are same.  

Similarities Between Chemical And Nuclear Reactions

  • Both reactions are accompanied by absorption or release of energy.
  • Electrons are involved in both reactions.