Nuclear Fusion- A Safer Alternative

Basic nuclear fusion reaction: Tritium + Deuterium = Helium + free neutron


Nuclear energy vs atomic mass for fusion and fission reactions.


By forcing two light nuclei together under extreme heat and pressure they will fuse into a single larger atom. This process releases a huge quantity of energy, even more than nuclear fission produces.


Coal vs nuclear fusion- Fuel input vs waste output
Coal vs nuclear fusion- Fuel input vs waste output
The amount of energy per unit of fuel is enormous compared to conventional coal burning power plants. The amount of waste also produced is practically nothing compared to an equivalent coal burning plant.


Nuclear fusion is vastly more efficient for energy production than nuclear fission. There is a practically an unlimited quantity of fusion fuel for us to use, with a very little fuel input and waste output.  Fusion is cleaner because there are no gases and toxic chemicals released into the environment. Also, fusion reactors can’t to violently explode and release nuclear material. Price of fusion reactors may be high, but fuel is cheap and there would be no other hidden costs such as nuclear waste storage,clean up, and very little environmental impact.

Design and Development

 

Fusion reactor concept ITER
Fusion reactor concept ITER

 

To obtain enough force to start nuclear fusion, the fuel must be heated to extremely high temperatures. By putting a charge on the fuel, it can be contained and heated within a magnetic field. This keeps the hydrogen from actually touching the wall of the reactor when its temperature is in the millions of degrees.

ITER vacuum vessel
ITER vacuum vessel

 

To obtain the temperatures needed for fusion, the fuel must be separate from the reactor. This is done by use of  magnetic fields. If the plasma comes into contact with the reactor it will be cooled, and no material can hold up to millions of degrees in order to allow fusion to continue. By keeping the plasma separate from the reactor the structural integrity will not be compromised.

 

plasma illustration
plasma illustration- Magnetically controlled liquid metal mass

Magnetic fields will be able to control the shape of the plasma inside the reactor and control instabilities, and allowing the reaction to continue. Additional heating may be necessary through out the fusion process, but to produce excess energy the heating must be less than the effective energy production.

Problems for nuclear fusion

Fusion is a complicated process. One of the biggest sets of hurtles nuclear fusion will face are the common misconceptions people have about exactly how the energy is generated. Often people are fearful of what they don’t understand. How will the masses react to the fusion process, especially after

In the beginning it is very likely that the construction of fusion reactors will be very expensive. People may not want to bear the burden of the taxation required to build a reactor. However, if the government can find a way to make nuclear fusion cost effective, it may be the silver bullet to a growing global energy dilemma.



2 Responses to Nuclear Fusion- A Safer Alternative

  1. Pingback:India Begins Construction of its 25th Nuclear Power Plant | Global Nuclear Contamination Watch

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