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Nuclear Fusion

Discusses how energy can be obtained from the fusion of atomic nuclei.

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What's All the Fuse About?

Is nuclear fusion our future?

Nuclear fusion power, particularly in the form of nuclear fusion reactors, may soon be a practical possibility. This inexhaustible source of energy is incredibly resourceful, but may provide scientists and engineers with certain issues.

Credit: Steve Jurvetson
Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jurvetson/4844626925/in/photolist-8o6YNr-enVg4q-cTX54W-abHmm2/lightbox/
License: CC BY-NC 3.0

A nuclear fusion reactor [Figure1]

Along with an immense amount of energy being released, a neutron is also given off through nuclear fusion. For instance, hydrogen and hydrogen can come together to form helium, which is what occurs on the surface of many stars such as the sun. However, this can only occur at extremely high temperatures in order to have a sufficient amount of energy to overpower the repulsion forces of positively-charged nuclei. The importance of all of these factors plays into the success of nuclear fusion as a future energy source.

 The major use of nuclear fusion power would be electricity. Using this type of power as a source would bring about benefits such as an abundant fuel supply, safety, cleanliness, and less nuclear waste. 

Creative Applications

  1. What are some complications scientists and engineers may have with nuclear fusion power? (use the first resource link if necessary)
  2. NASA is currently interested in developing nuclear fusion reactors to be used in a smaller scale for providing power for deep-space rockets. How would nuclear fusion power benefit these rockets? (use the second resource link if necessary)
  3. A new fusion project is the Polywell, which is a combination of a polyhedron and a potential well. Conduct some research to learn more about this project; what do you discover?



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