Essay, Research Paper: Nuclear Fusion


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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. 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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