Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Could fusion be generated with very high voltage?

  1. Jun 5, 2008 #1
    Could fusion be generated with very high voltage??

    Using a Van De Graaff (VDG) machine, we can easily generate million-volt high voltage. The high potential difference can be generated effectively with minimum energy supplied to the machine. The larger the volume of the machine would be, the higher the voltage could get. However, stability would be a problem when the voltage gets to over 10 million-volts. This issue could be resolved with ‘magnified’ machine design. For example,

    VDG1, VDG2, VDG3 ==> VDGA
    VDG4, VDG5, VDG6 ==> VDGB
    VDG7, VDG8, VDG9 ==> VDGC


    In that case, VDGA works like a magnifier which aggregates the positive charge (or negative charge conducted from smaller VDGs) and collectively ‘magnifies’ the voltage to higher voltage. Of course, a portion of the positive charge could be lost in the process. However, it could theoretically be possible to keep majority of it until the voltage gets elevated to 100 million volts or higher. With such high voltage working on the deuterium or tritium, gas mixture which could be mixed from a source of gaseous catalyst, selected from the group consisting of beryllium, carbonates, hydroxides, halides, sulfates, phosphates, and sulfides. The reaction produces natural lightning, or occasional fusion reaction if you like.

    Someone might argue natural lightning would not produce fusion. First of all, the design described here is not about real natural lightning. You don't get to manipulate real natural lightning with the addition of deuterium or tritium in the picture. Second, real natural lightning has voltage in the range of a few million to at most 10 million volts. You don't get as high voltage as the design theoretically could (if it works).

    Surely, other fusion methods such as Inertial Confinement or Magnetic Confinement could produce fusion. For example, Inertial Confinement was limited to gaining 400 J per second with much less voltage (say, hundreds of thousands) and trying to get particles smashing onto each other to achieve sustaining fusion (while continuing to heating it up). In general, none of these experiments could produce higher output than input and sustaining fusion. In fact, the focus seems to be in ‘heating it up’. Natural lightning would no doubt produce higher energy than those methods because of the high electronic voltage to preserve its current, and no sustaining fusion is required to generate high energy output. It seems the wrong area of researches has dominated fusion methods of the past few decades.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 6, 2008 #2


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Electrostatic acceleration to produce fusion is a well-known technique - look up "fusor". It is also used as a source of neutrons. But it is far from evident that you can get out more energy than you put in that way. After all, if, say, a tritium nucleus undergoes your 100 MV voltage difference, it has taken 100 MeV of energy from the system (which you will have to supply again with the power supply of the HV generator). And if it causes a fusion reaction, you will gain 17 MeV: you've lost 83 MeV in the process. Most accelerated particles will not undergo a fusion reaction, and their energy is then lost (well, are transformed into heat).
  4. Jun 7, 2008 #3


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor

    I agree with vanesch. Furthermore, how is this any different than all the other previous threads on using accelerators to induce fusion? See, for example,


    Van de graafs are as inefficient. This simply rehashed the same issue that has been brought up before.

  5. Jun 7, 2008 #4


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor

    The point of a fusion reactor is to inject as little energy as possible. The problem with high energy particles is that they scatter rather the fuse, and they lose energy to electromagnetic radiation via the bremsstrahlung reaction.

    Neutral beam injection is one means to heat plasmas while simultaneously fueling the plasma, and neutral beams generally have particle energies in the 100 keV range.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook