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Nuclear Fusion Is The Power Of Tomorrow

1715 words - 7 pages

The demand of energy is growing, causing the energy crisis to worsen. A new source of
energy must be found before fossil fuels run out. Nuclear fusion is a possible way of producing
electricity. The D-T and D-3He reactions can produce enough energy to last thousands of years
because there is a virtually limitless amount of deuterium on Earth, and tritium and helium-3 can
be made from deuterium. Therefore, nuclear fusion is a promising environment-friendly source
of energy.

Our growing need of energy has always been a problem. As the population grew and
cities expanded, the demand for energy increased. Primarily, wind and running water were used
as a source of energy to run factories during the Industrial Revolution. Before long, we started
producing and using electricity to do work by burning fossil fuels and using solar, water, wind,
and other forms of energy. When Albert Einstein found the relationship between mass and
energy, nuclear fission was studied and developed. Now, we use various types of energy,
including chemical energy, nuclear energy, kinetic energy, and solar energy. From these
sources, we make huge amounts of electricity, totaling almost four billion megawatt-hours in the
United States.
Although we have many ways of producing energy, some sources of energy are now
declining. Fossil fuels will soon be used up, and nuclear fission will not last, as the isotopes of
uranium and plutonium that are used in fission are very scarce. Fossil fuels and nuclear energy
yield well over half of the electricity produced in the nation, but these two sources cause
pollution and create radioactive materials. When fossil fuels are gone, a new way to produce
electricity must be developed. One possible solution, called nuclear fusion, is being studied.
Nuclear fusion, the process in which the nuclei of different atoms are fused together,
produces large amounts of energy, much more than both fossil fuels and nuclear fission. The
most studied fusion reactions are the deuterium-deuterium (D-D) and deuterium-tritium (D-T)
reactions. Both deuterium and tritium are isotopes of hydrogen. Deuterium is found on Earth in
large quantities, but tritium must be artificially made and therefore, is the “limiting factor” of
fusion. These fusion reactions can produce large amounts of energy, but it will not last very
Building a fusion reactor is extremely hard and there are a number of things to consider
when making one. First, one must first test whether fusion reactions can occur and measure
cross sections and the energy yields. This was already done many years ago. Second, different
reactors must be tested to see whether the energy output is at least equal to the energy input.
Currently, research is being done with experimental reactors. Finally, the reactor must produce
energy in the range of megawatts and at the same time be economically sound.
Nuclear fusion is a difficult and complicated...

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