Nuclear energy is an alternative to using fossil fuels. Although nuclear energy is also nonrenewable, it has a much lower amount of air pollution, as well as a lower risk of affecting the climate through global warming. There are three main kinds of nuclear energy, nuclear fusion, nuclear fission, and radioactive decay. This report will explain how nuclear fusion works, as well as explaining the advantages and disadvantages of nuclear fusion.
Nuclear fusion occurs when two or more elements are fused together. Nuclear fusion cannot be used with elements that are heavier than iron, only lighter elements are used. Lighter elements produce more energy. Energy is produced because the mass of the combined elements is lower than the mass of the two separate elements. When the two nuclei combine, some of their mass is converted to energy.
All nuclei have a positive charge and repel each other, which makes it difficult to combine the nuclei. If the nuclei are brought close enough together, though, the nuclei’s attractive force will be high enough to combine the nuclei. The easiest way to bring the nuclei close enough to combine is by accelerating the nuclei. This can be achieved by heating the nuclei up to thermonuclear temperatures. The minimum temperature for achieving nuclear fusion is approximately 100 million Kelvin. At this temperature, hydrogen is plasma.
A fusion reactor reaches the high temperature and pressure needed for fusion. The power needed to start a reactor is about 70 megawatts, but the power produced is about 500 megawatts. Fusion reactions take from 300 to 500 seconds. The temperatures involved in nuclear fusion are too hot for a material container. There are two main kinds of fusion reactors. The first kind of fusion reactor is called magnetic confinement. This reactor uses magnetic and electric fields to achieve the required temperature and pressure. Electric fields heat the hydrogen gas until it becomes plasma. Then, magnetic fields apply the pressure to complete the nuclear fusion. The most efficient shape for magnetic confinement is a donut. A reactor in a donut shape is called a tokamak.
The second kind of fusion reactor is inertial confinement. This reactor involves laser beams and ion beams. A pellet of deuterium-tritium is heated, and then...