Harnessing Nuclear Power with Fission or Fusion Processes?
Let me just start this article with the fact that nuclear fusion is highly experimental, and even if the research has come a long way, we are still several decades away from using this energy source commercially. However, nuclear fusion has several major advantages over convectional energy sources today, and even though the principles behind are somewhat similar to nuclear fission, the potential is on another level.
What is Nuclear Power?
Nuclear power is the source of energy that fuel most of the processes in the Universe, responsible for the creation and destruction of starts, as well as the being the life force behind them. It is the solely most potent form of energy we have so far discovered and scientist have been working the last 70 years on how to tame and harness these processes for generating useful energy.
They have come a long way. It did not take many years after the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, before nuclear fission reactors started popping up around the globe.
Nuclear fusion is the name of the process where two lighter atoms merge into one (the opposite of nuclear fission), and in the process has net loss of mass. This mass is converted into massive amounts of energy through Einstein’s formula E = mc^2, where the constant c is the speed of light. There are several large obstacles when it comes to harness nuclear fusion, one of them being finding the right material to sustain the amount of heat that is required to actually make these atoms merge together.
Nuclear fusion can use (unlike nuclear fission that requires uranium or similar heavy atoms) seawater as fuel. That is we extract the deuterium hydrogen isotopes out of seawater. It has been estimated that about 1 liter of seawater is equivalent to 100 liters of petrol.
Relatively Low Radioactivity
The other major advantage of nuclear fusion is the fact that the radioactivity (both in half-life and strength) of the byproducts of nuclear fusion are much milder than that of nuclear fission.
Fusion is The Future
If we one day are able to harness the awesome power of nuclear fusion (the same source that fuel’s and keeps the sun alive and burning), then we have reached a major milestone in human history. This is the day our energy system is transformed, our dependency for non-renewable and polluting energy sources is lost, and we are closer to a completely green and clean future. You might want to read more up on nuclear fusion in How Does Nuclear Fusion Power Plants Work?