Nuclear Fusion is the energy-producing process which takes place continuously in the sun
and stars. In the core of the sun at temperatures of 10-15 million degrees Celsius, Hydrogen is
converted to Helium providing enough energy for us to sustain life on earth.
For energy production on earth, different fusion reactions are involved. The most suitable reaction
occurs between the nuclei of the two light forms (isotopes) of Hydrogen – Deuterium and
Tritium; eventually reactions involving just Deuterium or Deuterium and Helium may be used.
A brief breakdown of the fuels used are as follows, Deuterium is a very abundant isotope
of hydrogen and can be extracted from all forms of water, Tritium is not as abundant and is not a
natural isotope, instead a machine is needed to extract it from lithium. Lithium, which is the
lightest of all metals is plentiful on the earths crust, there is so much on the crust that right now
they say there is enough to provide the planet with over a thousand years of electricity.
Fusion power offers the potential of an almost limitless source of energy for future
generations but it also presents some formidable scientific and engineering challenges. It is called
‘fusion’ because it is based on fusing light nuclei such as hydrogen isotopes to release energy.
Effective energy-producing fusions require that gas from a combination of isotopes of hydrogen –
deuterium and tritium – is heated to very high temperatures (100 million degrees centigrade) and
confined for at least one second. One way to achieve these conditions is to use magnetic
The Colliding Beam Fusion Reactor is a magnetic confinement system that avoids the
typical anomalous transport (refers to all processes in which loss of particles or energy takes place
– it is due to a variety of instabilities that lead to turbulence). The reactor is compact with good
accessibility and low maintenance costs. Most of the technologies needed to evaluate this concept
exist, or could become available with simple engineering modifications to existing technologies.
Some of the advantages of using fusion as a source of energy are, that the fuels are
plentiful, and will last for years, very safe to people because any malfunction results in immediate
shutdown, also, there is no atmospheric pollution which can lead to harmful things such as acid
rain or the greenhouse effect, and finally there is no need for disposal of materials.
An example of just how much power this procedure produces is that, with 10 grams of
Deuterium, which can be extracted from 500 liters of water, and 15g of Tritium, produced from
30g of Lithium would produce enough fuel for the lifetime electricity needs of an average person
In closing I would like to add my personal opinion about nuclear fusion, I feel that it is an
excellent source of energy for our planet to have, and although it is not available for home use as
of yet, you can expect to have this great power source in your home within the next 25 years.
encarta 96, fusion