Thursday, January 17, 2013

Fusion - A Solution To Fuel Shortages?

I believe that the most promising source of energy in the quantities we all need is nuclear fusion.

A lot of you readers probably are wondering what nuclear fusion is. I am not a rocket scientist, but I will tell you my version of it.

Fission is the kind of nuclear power that we are using now. Here is a definition of it: fis·sion  (fshn)
1. The act or process of splitting into parts.
2. A nuclear reaction in which an atomic nucleus, especially a heavy nucleus such as an isotope of uranium, splits into fragments, usually two fragments of comparable mass, releasing from 100 million to several hundred million electron volts of energy.
3. Biology An asexual reproductive process in which a unicellular organism divides into two or more independently maturing daughter cells.
v. fis·sioned, fis·sion·ing, fis·sions
To cause (an atom) to undergo fission.
To undergo fission.

This definition comes from this site:

Here is the definition of fusion: fu·sion  (fyzhn)
1. The act or procedure of liquefying or melting by the application of heat.
2. The liquid or melted state induced by heat.
a. The merging of different elements into a union: the fusion of copper and zinc to form brass; the difficult fusion of conflicting political factions.
b. A union resulting from fusing: A fusion of religion and politics emerged.
4. Physics A nuclear reaction in which nuclei combine to form more massive nuclei with the simultaneous release of energy.
5. Music that blends jazz elements and the heavy repetitive rhythms of rock. Also called jazz-fusion, jazz-rock.
6. A style of cooking that combines ingredients and techniques from very different cultures or countries.
[Latin fsi, fsin-, from fsus, past participle of fundere, to melt; see gheu- in Indo-European roots.]

This definition comes from the same site as the one for fission.

In more common language, fission breaks apart atoms. We have to use special radioactive fuels to do this in the nuclear power plants that we have now. This kind of nuclear power can cause accidents like Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, and Daiichi Fukushima. 

Fission nuclear power also leaves dangerous wastes that can kill people for thousands of years. The dangerous wastes from the nuclear power plants we have now can kill us for longer than a human language has ever lasted. We don't even know how to tell people in the future that our nuclear waste can kill them, and how to take care of it so it won't kill them.

Fusion is still a dream at this point. Scientists who are working on making Fusion power a reality, say it can be working about the year 2020. 

Fusion is the opposite of fission. Fusion joins atoms together instead of breaking them apart. It should not leave the dangerous wastes that fission does.

One of the big problems stopping us from using fusion is how powerful it is. One way to understand how powerful it is, is to realize that the Sun is running on fusion. 

Fusion is so powerful that only a small amount of it will be enough to make a tremendous amount of energy. It is that tremendous amount of energy and power that is holding us back from using fusion. Scientists don't know yet what they can safely put it in. 

There is an international project located in France, called ITER. It's name means, "The Way", in Latin. Here is an article that tells more about it:

Here is a link to the ITER site if you want to find out more about it from the people working on it:

According to the new scientist article, "Over half of the world's population is represented in the ITER Organization." Here are some of the countries involved with it: People's Republic of China, the European Union, the Republic of India, Japan, the Republic of Korea, the Russian Federation and the United States of America.

We are in trouble with energy now and 2020 is too far off to be much help to us right now. People are working on other energy solutions. I will post more about those tomorrow.

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