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Binding energies in this figure indicate that heavy nuclei tend to be unstable.To gain stability, they can fragment into several smaller nuclei.The energy equivalent of this mass is 2.78x10^-11 J, or 173 Me V.This energy appears as the kinetic energy of the products of the fission.The first nuclear fission reaction discovered involved uranium-235.Nuclear power plants use uranium-235 nucleus to undergo fission by hitting them with neutrons, as shown by the model in the following diagram.The mass changes and associated energy changes in nuclear reactions are significant.For example, the energy released from the nuclear reaction of 1 kg of uranium is equivalent to the energy released during the combustion of about four billion kilograms of coal.

The larger the binding energy per nucleon, the stronger the nucleons are held together, and the more stable the nucleus is.Less stable atoms have lower binding energies per nucleon.In other words, it is harder to break apart a nucleus with a high binding energy than a nucleus with a low binding energy.As a member, you'll also get unlimited access to over 55,000 lessons in math, English, science, history, and more.Plus, get practice tests, quizzes, and personalized coaching to help you succeed.