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Nuclear Fusion - Doorway To The Future This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   Late on a cold December night in 1993, powerful radio beams heated and compressed less than 3 ounces of hydrogen to form helium. The ensuing reaction produced temperatures in excess of one hundred million degrees, three times hotter than the core of the sun. More than three million watts of electrical energy were produced in less than four seconds - by far the largest controlled reaction ever to grace the surface of this earth.

Nuclear fusion, also called thermonuclear fusion because it produces heat instead of radiation, occurs when two different isotopes of hydrogen, usually deuterium (with two neutrons in the nucleus) and tritium (with three neutrons), are forced together forming helium. This type of reaction is what drives our sun and all the other stars in the universe. Nuclear fusion is one of the most promising sources of energy in experimentation today. It has many benefits. First, its fuel sources, deuterium and tritium, are limitless, being found in ordinary sea water. Second, there are no radioactive by-products that need to be disposed of. The only by-product of the reaction is helium, which isn't dangerous to the environment. And finally, along with a limitless fuel supply, an incredibly small amount of fuel is needed to sustain the reaction. A few ounces can produce millions of watts of energy.

There is one problem that is so large, however, it may be deemed insurmountable. That problem is the extreme difficulty of getting the temperatures high enough to ignite the reaction. At the moment, it takes more electricity to generate the radio or laser beams than is given by the reaction. In the first reaction at the Tokamok Test Fusion Reactor (described at the beginning of the article), more than eight million watts were used to produce the radio beams and the electromagnetic containment field for only three million output. In the hydrogen bomb, or H-Bomb, a fission reaction was used to produce the temperatures and pressures. But in the lab and at the plant, that isn't a practical solution. But the possible benefits to the environment and the human race far outweigh the cost of toil to obtain the goal. To truly harness the sun's power, we need to display the desire and determination characteristic of the human race. So yes, thermonuclear fusion is the doorway to a better, brighter future. u


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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