Description of nuclear fusion
Fusion power, a primary area of research in Plasma Physics, is power generated by nuclear fusion processes. In fusion reactions two light atomic nuclei fuse together to form a heavier nucleus. In doing so they release a comparatively large amount of energy arising from the binding energy due to the strong nuclear force which is manifested as an increase in temperature of the reactants.
The term is commonly used to refer to potential commercial production of net usable power from a fusion source, similar to the usage of the term "steam power." The leading designs for controlled fusion research use magnetic (tokamak design) or inertial (laser) confinement of a plasma, with heat from the fusion reactions used to operate a steam turbine which in turn drives electrical generators, similar to the process used in fossil fuel and nuclear fission power stations.
Fusion power is believed to have significant safety advantages over current power stations based on nuclear fission. Fusion only takes place under very limited and controlled circumstances (by comparison fission, including catastrophic failure, only requires that there is sufficient fuel within a small enough space). For this reason, a failure of precise control or cessation of fueling quickly shuts down fusion power reactions. There is no possibility of runaway heat build-up or large-scale release of radioactivity, little or no atmospheric pollution, the power source comprises light elements in small quantities which are easily obtained and largely harmless to life, the waste products are short-lived in terms of radioactivity, and there is little overlap with nuclear weapons technology.
Fusion powered electricity generation was initially believed to be readily achievable, as fission power had been. However the extreme requirements for continuous reactions and plasma containment led to projections being extended by several decades, and more than 60 years after the first attempts, commercial power production is still believed to be unlikely before 2050. 1
Keywords for nuclear fission
D-T fuel cycle, D-D fuel cycle, D-3He fuel cycle, p-11B fuel cycle, confinement, materials, subsystems, Gun Club, MHD, instability, tokamak, effluents, waste management, nuclear proliferation, sustainable energy, Robots, robotics, Radiation Mitigation
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