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Nuclear Fusion

Nuclear Fusion Nuclear Fusion is the energy-producing process which takes place continuously in the sun and stars. In the core of the sun at temperatures of 10-15 million degrees Celsius, Hydrogen is converted to Helium providing enough energy for us to sustain life on earth. For energy production on earth, different fusion reactions are involved. The most suitable reaction occurs between the nuclei of the two light forms (isotopes) of Hydrogen – Deuterium and Tritium; eventually reactions involving just Deuterium or Deuterium and Helium may be used. A brief breakdown of the fuels used are as follows, Deuterium is a very abundant isotope of hydrogen and can be extracted from all forms of water, Tritium is not as abundant and is not a natural isotope, instead a machine is needed to extract it from lithium.

Lithium, which is the lightest of all metals is plentiful on the earths crust, there is so much on the crust that right now they say there is enough to provide the planet with over a thousand years of electricity. Fusion power offers the potential of an almost limitless source of energy for future generations but it also presents some formidable scientific and engineering challenges. It is called ‘fusion’ because it is based on fusing light nuclei such as hydrogen isotopes to release energy. Effective energy-producing fusions require that gas from a combination of isotopes of hydrogen – deuterium and tritium – is heated to very high temperatures (100 million degrees centigrade) and confined for at least one second. One way to achieve these conditions is to use magnetic confinement.

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The Colliding Beam Fusion Reactor is a magnetic confinement system that avoids the typical anomalous transport (refers to all processes in which loss of particles or energy takes place – it is due to a variety of instabilities that lead to turbulence). The reactor is compact with good accessibility and low maintenance costs. Most of the technologies needed to evaluate this concept exist, or could become available with simple engineering modifications to existing technologies. Some of the advantages of using fusion as a source of energy are, that the fuels are plentiful, and will last for years, very safe to people because any malfunction results in immediate shutdown, also, there is no atmospheric pollution which can lead to harmful things such as acid rain or the greenhouse effect, and finally there is no need for disposal of materials. An example of just how much power this procedure produces is that, with 10 grams of Deuterium, which can be extracted from 500 liters of water, and 15g of Tritium, produced from 30g of Lithium would produce enough fuel for the lifetime electricity needs of an average person in an industrialized country.

In closing I would like to add my personal opinion about nuclear fusion, I feel that it is an excellent source of energy for our planet to have, and although it is not available for home use as of yet, you can expect to have this great power source in your home within the next 25 years.


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