Nuclear Fusion





Nuclear Fusion
Nuclear Fusion is a type of nuclear reaction in which two light atomic nuclei combine, or “fuse” together, to form a heavier nucleus. In this process, energy is released from the nuclei. This is the same process that powers stars like our sun. The most common example of a nuclear fusion reaction is the fusion of two hydrogen atoms to form a single helium atom. In this reaction, four hydrogen nuclei (protons) combine to form a single helium nucleus. During this process, energy is released in the form of gamma radiation. This energy can be harnessed and used to generate electricity. Nuclear fusion is a very efficient energy source. It produces about four times more energy than the same amount of nuclear fission. Additionally, the amount of waste generated is far less than that of nuclear fission. An analogy to help understand nuclear fusion would be two magnets. When two magnets of the same polarity are pushed together, they stick together until they are forced apart. The same is true of two nuclei – they stick together until they are forced apart by the energy released during the reaction. Fun Fact: Nuclear fusion can also be used to create elements heavier than iron. This process is called nucleosynthesis and it is an essential part of how elements are created in stars.