Nuclear Fusion





Nuclear Fusion
Nuclear fusion is a process in which two or more atomic nuclei join together, or “fuse”, to form a single heavier nucleus. It is the same process that powers the sun and stars and releases huge amounts of energy. Fusion reactions occur when two light nuclei fuse together to form one heavier nucleus, releasing energy in the process. The energy released in a fusion reaction is much greater than the energy released in a fission reaction. This is because the fused nucleus is much more stable than the fission products. Fusion therefore requires much higher temperatures than fission. For example, temperatures in the range of millions of degrees Celsius are required to initiate and sustain a fusion reaction. In a laboratory, a fusion reaction is typically initiated using a particle accelerator or laser. The extreme temperatures required for fusion are achieved by compressing and heating a fusion fuel, such as a mixture of deuterium and tritium (isotopes of hydrogen). This is known as inertial confinement fusion. The potential of nuclear fusion is huge. It is the most efficient way to generate energy, as the amount of fuel needed is much lower than any other method. It also produces little to no radioactive waste, and the energy released is safe and clean. A fun fact: Nuclear fusion is one of the few scientific processes that can be observed in nature. It occurs in stars, such as the sun, and is responsible for creating the heavy elements in the universe.