Nuclear Fusion


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Nuclear Fusion
Nuclear Fusion is the process of combining two light atomic nuclei to form a heavier nucleus, with the release of large amounts of energy. It is the same reaction that powers the Sun and other stars and is considered to be the most powerful energy source available. In a nuclear fusion reaction, two light nuclei, such as hydrogen, fuse together to form a heavier nucleus, such as helium, releasing a large amount of energy. This energy is released in the form of gamma rays, and is millions of times more powerful than chemical reactions. The energy released in a nuclear fusion reaction is calculated using the Einstein equation E=mc2, where energy (E) is equal to the mass (m) of the nucleus multiplied by the speed of light (c2). Nuclear fusion reactions can take place at very high temperatures and pressures, such as those found in a star. To replicate these conditions on Earth, scientists use powerful lasers or other forms of energy to create the necessary conditions for a fusion reaction to take place. This process is known as inertial confinement fusion (ICF). At present, nuclear fusion is still in the early stages of research and development, and is not yet an economically viable energy source. However, it is estimated that if a viable fusion reactor was developed, it could produce up to 10 times more energy than a traditional nuclear fission reactor. Fun Fact: Nuclear fusion reactions occur naturally in stars, but the first man-made fusion reaction took place in a laboratory in the United States in 1952.