The Case for Nuclear Fusion
As of now, 80% of global energy is provided by fossil fuels. Wind and solar energy sources are unlikely to completely replace fossil fuels in the coming decades due to infrastructure problems. A drop in global energy provided by oil starting sometime between 2012 and 2014 (Chris) is also expected. As a result of these circumstances more research must be done in other forms of energy generation in order to keep with energy demand as countries industrialize and populations grow. Despite claims that nuclear fusion will not be practically realized, research into nuclear fusion should be increased as it is not harmful to the environment, has nearly limitless fuel, and is inherently safe. Fusion power produces no greenhouse gasses and no long-lived radioactive products, making it a very clean energy source. According to the article “Safety and Environment,” “Fusion power does not produce any greenhouse gasses (GHGs) or other atmospheric pollutants during operation.” It has become an increasing desire for things, such as cars and companies, to become environmentally friendly or “green.” The fact that fusion power would generate no greenhouse gasses inherently is a big plus. Furthermore, according to the same article, “SEAFP concluded that fusion has very good inherent safety qualities, among which... no production of long-lived, highly radiotoxic products.” The radiotoxic products produced by nuclear fission pose a large environmental problem due to storage required. Fusion is much more environmentally friendly than fission because it lacks these products.
Fusion power is inherently safer than other forms of energy generation, such fission, as well. As mentioned, fusion produces no long-term nuclear waste. In fact, the main product of fusion is helium which is an inert gas that poses no health hazards (Falkus, Cleveland, Dolan). A major drawback of nuclear fission is the possibility of a runaway fission reaction, also known as a nuclear meltdown. Fusion does not have this drawback as according to the previous paper cited, “There is no potential for a runaway fusion reaction...Virtually all hardware problems lead to fusion shutdown, and there are inherent limits in any case because of the limited amount of fusion fuel present and the nature of thefusion reaction.” The result of this is that if a malfunction happens, whether through human error or natural disaster, the fusion reaction will continue for the amount of time it has fuel left, a small amount, and simply end, resulting in no radioactivity or destruction.
Unlike nuclear fission and fossil fuels, which have a limited amount of fuel, nuclear fusion has a near limitless amount. Fusion uses the elements deuterium and tritium as fuel and according to the article “Fusion Energy,” “Deuterium can be extracted from water and tritium is produced from lithium, which is found in the earth's crust. Fuel supplies will therefore last for millions of years.” Critics will note that...