Energy from the Nucleus
Nuclear energy may be obtained either by breaking a heavy nucleus into two nuclei of middle weight (fission) or by combining two light nuclei to form a middle weight nucleus (fusion).
Reason: The middle weight nuclei are more tightly bound than heavy weight nuclei. When the nucleons of a heavy nucleus regroup in two middle weight nuclei called fragments the total binding energy increases and the rest mass energy decreases. The difference in energy appears as the kinetic energy of the fragments or in some other form.
In the case of fusion, the light weight nuclei are less tightly bound than the middle weight nuclei. Therefore, if two light weight nuclei combine, the binding energy increases and the rest mass decreases. Energy is released in the form of kinetic energy or in some other external form.