How much plutonium is needed to make a nuke?

How much plutonium is needed to make a nuke?

But a concentration of some 90 percent — termed weapons-grade — is needed for the critical mass to set off the chain reaction leading to a nuclear explosion. An atomic bomb needs 25 kilos (55 pounds) of enriched uranium or eight kilos (18 pounds) of plutonium.

How much uranium does it take to make a nuclear warhead?

According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, a nuclear bomb needs about 33 pounds (15 kilograms) of enriched uranium to be operational.

Do nukes use plutonium?

Plutonium-239 and uranium-235 are the most common isotopes used in nuclear weapons. Instead of colliding two sub-critical pieces of nuclear fuel, modern weapons detonate chemical explosives around a sub-critical sphere (or “pit”) of uranium-235 or plutonium-239 metal.

How much uranium do nuclear power plants need?

About 27 tonnes of uranium – around 18 million fuel pellets housed in over 50,000 fuel rods – is required each year for a 1000 MWe pressurized water reactor. In contrast, a coal power station of equivalent size requires more than two and a half million tonnes of coal to produce as much electricity.

How much uranium is needed to power a city?

In the previous page we saw that with one tonne of either uranium or thorium, we can produce a gigawatt year of electricity (1GWye), the amount you’ll need to power a modern city with a million inhabitants for a year.

How much plutonium is in spent nuclear fuel?

Weapon-grade plutonium contains less than 7 percent plutonium-240. Under normal nuclear power plant operation, the plutonium in spent reactor fuel contains roughly 24 percent plutonium-240; such plutonium is often referred to as “reactor-grade.”

How big of an explosion can be caused by plutonium?

Relatively large amounts of plutonium-240, as would be contained in reactor-grade plutonium, can cause a weapon to detonate early and “fizzle,” causing a smaller explosion than intended. However, even a weapon that fizzles would cause an explosion roughly equivalent to 1,000 tons (1 kiloton) of TNT.

What kind of plutonium is used for nuclear weapons?

Countries producing plutonium for weapons have generally operated their reactors to maximize the production of plutonium-239—the isotope most useful for nuclear weapons—and to minimize the production of other plutonium isotopes such as plutonium-240. Weapon-grade plutonium contains less than 7 percent plutonium-240.

How much HEU is needed to make a nuclear bomb?

The amount of HEU needed to make a nuclear weapon varies with the degree of enrichment and the sophistication of the weapon design. In general, the higher the enrichment level, the less HEU is needed to make a bomb.