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NUCLEAR ENERGY: FUSION. Thermonuclear Reaction E = mc 2. Energy Comparison Nuclear Fusion (1). Nuclear reaction in which light nuclei combine or fuse to produce a heavier nucleus and a lot of energy. Example: Deuterium and/or Tritium fuse

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nuclear energy fusion


Thermonuclear Reaction

E = mc2

nuclear fusion 1
Nuclear Fusion (1)
  • Nuclear reaction in which light nuclei combine or fuse to produce a heavier nucleus and a lot of energy.
  • Example: Deuterium and/or Tritium fuse
  • 21H + 21H  32He + 10n
  • 21H + 31H  42He + 10n
nuclear fusion 2
Nuclear Fusion (2)
  • Huge potential for meeting our energy needs: 1 g of H2 produces energy from burning 1 ton of coal
  • Deuterium is naturally occurring and is available at 0.015% abundance. 21H in water could meet energy needs for millions of years.
  • Tritium is radioactive and must be produced via fission of Li (abundant in earth’s crust).
  • 63Li + 1n0 42He + 31H
nuclear fusion 3
Nuclear Fusion (3)
  • For example, 10 grams of Deuterium which can be extracted from 500 L (or 0.5 Mg) 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.
nuclear fusion 4
Nuclear Fusion (4)
  • Produces minimal radioactive waste, but risks exist with β emitting tritium.
  • Produces no greenhouse gases or acid rain.
  • But requirements to carry out a controlled fusion reaction and convert the energy produced to industrial and household uses is very difficult technologically and financially.
sustained fusion requirements
Sustained Fusion Requirements
  • Extremely high temperatures (100 – 200 million K) at which the hydrogen isotopes are stripped of their electrons creating a plasma of hot charged gases.
  • Control of plasma to confine the energy for 1-2 seconds.
  • Extremely high pressure to force the cations closer than 10-15 m to achieve plasma density > 2E20 particles/m3
sustained fusion requirements1
Sustained Fusion Requirements
  • Safe handling of radioactive itopies.
  • Technologies under development
    • High magnetic fields to trap plasma of ions (Tokamak)
    • Fission rxn needed to produce neutrons for tritium production  radioactive fallout
    • “cold” fusion
    • Creating high temperatures
current research to control fusion reaction for energy production
Current Research to Control Fusion Reaction for Energy Production
  • Currently, fusion is not a feasible alternative to fossil fuels but countries have formed consortium to work on this very difficult technological problems.
    • ITER (collaboration of EU, Japan, US, S. Korea, Russia, China, India) will achieve 500 MW of fusion power (10x more than existing technology) and will be built in France to be operational in 2015. June 2005 agreement
  • JET: Joint European Torus, largest nuclear fusion research facility located in the UK.
thermonuclear weapons
Thermonuclear Weapons
  • Fusion of hydrogen bomb: heat and explosion responsible for damage; requires an atomic bomb to ignite.
    • US and USSR tested H-bombs in early 1950’s
    • Britain, China and France have the H-bomb
  • Neutron bomb: small hydrogen bomb with emission of high energy neutrons responsible for the damage.
solar energy
Solar Energy
  • Energy from sun results from nuclear reactions fusing hydrogen isotopes.
  • This energy sustains life on earth
  • Renewable until H isotopes are exhausted, but other fusion rxns can occur.
  • Huge energy capacity: 0.01% of the sun’s energy can meet 100% of global energy needs
  • But there are many challenges before it can be harnased or captured.
direct solar energy
Direct Solar Energy
  • Solar Cells
    • Photon + reactants  electricity via a chemical rxn
  • Solar Heating
    • Capture IR component of sunlight to heat water, space, etc