Nuclear fusion is a process in which two elements are fused into one, a process that releases energy from the nucleus of an atom, hence the name “nuclear energy.” It contrasts with nuclear fission, a process that man has used for 60 years to produce electricity. In fission, a large atom is split into smaller atoms. In fusion, two small atoms are fused into a larger atom. Both processes release energy. Pound for pound, fission produces 8,000 times as much energy as burning fossil fuels. Fusion produces seven times more energy than fission, or 56,000 times as much energy as fossil fuels. The three problems for fusion are achieving the incredibly high temperatures required, suspending the plasma in some non-physical containment field, and containing the plasma long enough to produce a sustained fusion reaction. There is also a problem caused by the choice of fuel that the industry has opted for. Where the sun uses ordinary hydrogen, on Earth (once again because of the lower pressure) we must use hydrogen isotopes (deuterium and tritium) that are 24 orders of magnitude (1 x 1024) more reactive than ordinary hydrogen. This compensates for the lower particle density due to the low pressure. The problem this creates is that the isotopes have neutrons, and so the fusion reaction creates energetic streams of neutrons that create four problems: radiation damage to the structures, radioactive waste, the need for biological shielding, and the potential for the production of weapons-grade plutonium 239.
The Good Men Project 6th Aug 2020 read more »