Nuclear Fusion Possibilities
In our classroom while were studying the process that the sun uses to create its own energy I started to think about the possibility of us humans harnessing the same power the sun uses to keep us warm, this is by means of fusion. The definition of fusion from our chemistry textbook is “Combining two light nuclei to form a heavier nucleus.”(1) My first goal in this research paper is to see first see what the requirements are to be able to facilitate nuclear fusion. My second is to see the availability of these requirements, and current restraints. My third goal is to explain how nuclear fusion reactors work. My final goal is to find any groups who are working on utilizing this potentially massive power source.
What do we need to be able to harness the potential monumental energy of a nuclear fusion reaction? With help from the University of California Observatories (2) I found out there are three crucial elements for nuclear fusion to occur. We first need hydrogen atoms. Why do we need hydrogen atoms? Since Hydrogen is the lightest element in existence it is preferred to use it since it will be easier to strip its electron from it, which is needed for it to be able to bond. We also need high temperatures. We need a temperature sustained at 1.5 x10^7 Kelvin to be able to sustain the process. Third, and last of all we need extreme pressure. According to the concept of Hydrostatic Equilibrium the downward force of gravity must be balanced by the upward thermal pressure of the gas. This is how the sun sustains its size, if there was too much upward thermal pressure a star would grow bigger. Likewise if the gravity is greater than the thermal pressure then the star would collapse.
Now we will look at our availability of the three main requirements. We have plenty of Hydrogen on our earth, based on the facts obtained from the website Encyclopedia of earth production of hydrogen in the United States amounts to three billion cubic feet per year. It can be mainly found in combination with oxygen in water, as well as in living plants, petroleum, and coal. (3) Obtaining Hydrogen is the easy part, the two other requirements are more difficult to obtain.
The temperature, which again must be sustained at 1.5 x10^7 Kelvin has been reached before on earth, in a controlled environment. In 2012 Livescience.com reported an achievement made by the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (4). I was able to achieve a heat of 4x10^10 Kelvin. The RHIC is an underground track where particles smash into another in an environment compared to conditions one millionth of a second after the big bang. Producing this heat is possible, although the issue is being able to control it for extended period of time.
The amount of pressure needed is also a potential problem in our quest to produce nuclear fusion on earth. To create the circumstances where nuclear fusion would be possible we would need a strong electromagnetic field. Based on research...