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Nuclear Chemistry Worksheet

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Most nuclear reactions involve changes in the number of protons and/or
neutrons in the nucleus of an atom. These changes are called
transmutations because an atom of one element is changed into an atom of
a different element. During these changes, nuclear particles may be
absorbed and/or emitted along with a release of energy.
There are four types of nuclear reactions:
1) natural radioactive decay: transmutations occur by natural radioactivity
(the ability of a nucleus to emit a nuclear particle and energy without
external stimulation);
2) artificial transmutation: transmutations occur by nuclear disintegration
caused by external stimulation as a scientist bombards a nucleus with a
particle (the addition of another nuclear particle makes the nucleus
unstable);
3) fission: certain nuclei having a large mass are bombarded with special
particles that cause the nuclei to split into two nuclei each having a
smaller mass;
4) fusion: nuclei of light elements are combined to form heavier nuclei.
Nuclear reactions are written using symbols in the maX notation. The
symbols for the major nuclear particles involved in nuclear reactions are
given below.

Alpha particle
Proton

4
1

He (an alpha particle is a helium nucleus)

H (the most common hydrogen nucleus is a

proton)
Neutron

Electron

Positron

Gamma ray

or

or

-1
1

-1

(also called a beta particle)

The table below contains information about nuclear reactions involving the
emission of radiation.
NUCLEAR CHANGES

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Nuclear Chemistry Worksheet

Type of Reaction

Radiation
(Particle)

Effect on the
Atomic Number

He

decrease by 2

4
2

Alpha emission ()

increase by 1

Effect on
the
Atomic
Mass
decrease by
4
no change

or

decrease by 1

no change

or

no change

no change

or

0
-1

Beta emission ()
+

Positron emission ( )

1
0
1
0
1

Gamma emission
Electron capture (EC)

0
0

0
-1

0
-

0
-

decrease by 1

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no change

Nuclear Chemistry Worksheet


Nuclear reactions that involve bombardment of nuclei vary in their products.
For example:
9

Be +

14
7

N +
Al

27
13

12
6

He

17
8

4
2

Sc +

45
21

He

C +
O +

1
1

Al +

2
1

K +

4
2

26
13

42

19

H
He

In nuclear equations, the total number of positive charges (represented by


the atomic numbers) of the reactants (substances on the left of the reaction
arrow) equals the total number of positive charges of the products
(substances on the right of the reaction arrow). The total mass of the
reactants must also equal the total mass of the products.
For example:

A uranium-238 atom decays by emitting an alpha particle to form


a thorium-234 atom.
238
23490 Th + 42 He
92U
Another example:
Potassium-40 decays to calcium-40 by beta emission.
40
4020Ca + 0-1
19K
In both examples, the total mass on the left equals the total mass
on the right. The total number of positive charges on the left
equal the total number of positive charges on the right.
Write out or complete the following nuclear reactions.
1)

Technetium-99 (9943 Tc) decays by beta emission to form


ruthenium-99
99
( 44 Ru).

2)

Phosphorus-32 decays by beta emission to form sulfur-32.


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Nuclear Chemistry Worksheet

3)

Francium-212 (21287 Fr) decays by alpha emission.

4)

Fluorine-18 decays to oxygen-18 by positron emission.

5)

Sodium-24 decays by beta emission.

6)

Krypton-76 absorbs a beta particle to form bromine-76.

7)

Aluminum-27 absorbs an alpha particle to form phosphorus30 and emits a neutron.

8)

Nitrogen-14 absorbs an alpha particle to form oxygen-17 and


emits a proton.

9)

When neptunium-239 decays, plutonium-239 is formed and a


particle is emitted. (Be sure to include the correct particle in
the equation.)

10) A particular atom absorbs a neutron to form uranium-236. No


particle is emitted.

Complete the following nuclear equations:

11) ________
12) ________ +
13)

Np

239
93

0
-1

e +

14
7

He

12
6

4
2

C +

1
0

Pu + _________

239
94

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Nuclear Chemistry Worksheet

He + _________

240
94

n + __________

236
92

14)

4
2

15)

1
0

16)

13
7

Pu +

18) ______ +
19)

226
88

20)

18
9

21)

49
24

22)

239
94

23)

7
3

24)

3
1

25)

14
6

26)

9
4

27)

14
7

28)

26
12

29)

59
27

30)

208
84

1
0

Ra

F
Cr

0
+1

C +

1
1

3
1

_______

_______ +

Li

7
3

H +

2
1

Rn

0
-1

0
+1

Am +

14
7

Be +

4
2

H +

241
95

1
1

He + ___________

4
2

H _________

N +

He

4
2

222
86

Pu + _________

Li +

4
2

_________

He

12
6

1
0

N + _________

He

He

4
2

Mg +

1
0

Co +

2
1

Po

1
0

N _________ +

17) ______ +

n +

1
0

C + _________

12
6

_________

0
+1

________

0
+1

________ +

________ +

He

4
2

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e
e

0
+1

1
0

Nuclear Chemistry Worksheet

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