Applications of Fusion
The main application for fusion is in making electricity. Nuclear fusion can provide a safe, clean energy source for future generations with several advantages over current fission reactors:
- Abundant fuel supply - Deuterium can be readily extracted from seawater, and excess tritium can be made in the fusion reactor itself from lithium, which is readily available in the Earth's crust. Uranium for fission is rare, and it must be mined and then enriched for use in reactors.
- Safe - The amounts of fuel used for fusion are small compared to fission reactors. This is so that uncontrolled releases of energy do not occur. Most fusion reactors make less radiation than the natural background radiation we live with in our daily lives.
- Clean - No combustion occurs in nuclear power (fission or fusion), so there is no air pollution.
- Less nuclear waste - Fusion reactors will not produce high-level nuclear wastes like their fission counterparts, so disposal will be less of a problem. In addition, the wastes will not be of weapons-grade nuclear materials as is the case in fission reactors.
NASA is currently looking into developing small-scale fusion reactors for powering deep-space rockets. Fusion propulsion would boast an unlimited fuel supply (hydrogen), would be more efficient and would ultimately lead to faster rockets [source: Slough].
For more information on nuclear fusion reactors and related topics, check out the links that follow.
Originally Published: Aug 11, 2005
More Great Links
- Arnoux, Robert. "Who Invented Fusion?" Iter.org. Feb. 12, 2014. (Jan. 18, 2021) https://www.iter.org/newsline/-/1836CPEP: Fusion - Physics of a Fundamental Energy Source.
- Gibney, Elizabeth. "Google revives controversial cold-fusion experiments." Nature. May 27, 2019. (Jan. 18, 2021) https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-019-01683-9
- HyperPhysics. "Fusion Reactors. " HyperPhysics. (Jan. 18, 2021) http://hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu/hbase/nucene/fusrea.html
- International Atomic Energy Agency. "Fusion - Frequently asked questions." Iaea.org. (Jan. 18, 2021) https://www.iaea.org/topics/energy/fusion/faqs
- ITER. "What is ITER? " Iter.org. Jan. 31, 2020. (Jan. 18, 2021) https://www.iter.org/proj/inafewlines
- Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory Science & Technology Review. " Lawrence Livermore Laboratory Science & Technology Review: The National Ignition Facility Comes to Life. " Osti.gov. Sept. 1, 2003. (Jan. 18, 2021) https://www.osti.gov/biblio/15007939-qCBAxB/native/
- Lawrence Livermore Laboratory Science & Technology ReviewNational Laboratory Science & Technology Review. ": The NIF Target Chamber - Ready for the Challenge. " Llnl.gov. May 2001. (Jan. 18, 2021) https://lasers.llnl.gov/multimedia/publications/pdfs/2001_05.pdf http://www.llnl.gov/str/May01/Sawicki.html
- Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. "Initial NIF experiments meet requirements for fusion ignition New physics effect achieves symmetrical target compression. " Llnv.gov. Jan. 28, 2010. (Jan. 18, 2021) https://www.llnl.gov/news/initial-nif-experiments-meet-requirements-fusion-ignition%C2%A0-new-physics-effect-achieves
- Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. "Inertial Fusion Energy: Opportunity for Fusion Innovation. " Chemconnections.org. January 1997. (Jan. 18, 2021) http://chemconnections.org/crystals/pdf/ife.pdf
- Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. "How NIF Works." Llnl.gov. (Jan. 18, 2021) https://lasers.llnl.gov/about/how-nif-works#:~:text=When%20the%20hohlraum%20is%20heated,fuel%20to%20extreme%20temperatures%20and Laboratory Science & Technology Review: On Target Designing for Ignition http://www.llnl.gov/str/Haan.html
- Overton, Thomas. " Fusion Energy Is Coming, and Maybe Sooner Than You Think." Powermag.com. June 1, 2020. (Jan. 18, 2021) https://www.powermag.com/fusion-energy-is-coming-and-maybe-sooner-than-you-think/
- Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory. " Operate Your Own Tokamak Reactor. " Pppl.gov (Jan. 18, 2021) http://w3.pppl.gov/~dstotler/SSFD/
- Rostoker, N et. al.. "Colliding Beam Fusion Reactor. " Science 278: 1419-1422. 1997.
- Scientific American. "What is the current scientific thinking on cold fusion? Is there any possible validity to this phenomenon? " Scientific American. Oct. 21, 1999. (Jan. 18, 2021) https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/what-is-the-current-scien/
- Slough, John. "The Fusion Driven Rocket: Nuclear Propulsion through Direct Conversion of Fusion Energy." Nasa.gov. March 25, 2019. (Jan. 18, 2021) https://www.nasa.gov/directorates/spacetech/niac/2012_Phase_II_fusion_driven_rocket/
- Valich, Lindsey. "What is fusion, and why is it so difficult to create? " University of Rochester Newscenter. Oct. 9, 2018. (Jan. 18, 2021) https://bit.ly/3oY2Q97
- Warrick, Chris. " Could Nuclear Fusion Be Closer Than We Think? " Sciencemuseum.org.uk. Nov. 8, 2018. (Jan. 18, 2021) https://blog.sciencemuseum.org.uk/could-nuclear-fusion-be-closer-than-we-think/
- World Nuclear Association. " Nuclear Fusion Power." World-nuclear.org. Nov. 2020. (Jan. 18, 2021) https://www.world-nuclear.org/information-library/current-and-future-generation/nuclear-fusion-power.aspx