Fusion and Nuclear Weapons Proliferation?

  • #1

Main Question or Discussion Point

Some experts claim that the technology to create pure fusion bombs already exists, although the resulting device wouldn't result in any real advantages over conventional explosives (source).

Deuterium and tritium are also considered the most likely fuels for a fusion reactor. The deuterium would likely be extracted from heavy water (interestingly, heavy water reactors are also well suited for producing tritium and plutonium), which isn't really that rare or exotic a material, certainly not when compared to highly enriched uranium or plutonium, and it would likely be less expensive and more readily available if used as a fusion fuel.

If fusion power were developed could improved knowledge of the fusion reaction process and the ready availability of deuterium lead to a situation of increased nuclear weapons proliferation?
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
CalcNerd
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Generally called Hydrogen bombs and they have already been proven and do exist. The largest made and tested H-Bomb was by the Russians at 50 Megatons.
 
  • #3
berkeman
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Generally called Hydrogen bombs and they have already been proven and do exist. The largest made and tested H-Bomb was by the Russians at 50 Megatons.
No, he's referring to a fusion bomb that does not use a fission explosion as a trigger. See the Wikipedia article he links to as his source.
Some experts claim that the technology to create pure fusion bombs already exists, although the resulting device wouldn't result in any real advantages over conventional explosives (source).
Yeah, it takes so much conventional explosive to ignite a small fusion target that there is not much point in making the explosive that way. A fuel-air explosive is much a much more practical way to make bigger explosions...
If fusion power were developed could improved knowledge of the fusion reaction process and the ready availability of deuterium lead to a situation of increased nuclear weapons proliferation?
It wouldn't seem so. Advances in ICF will still be confined to pretty small fusion targets (with giant lasers required), and magnetic confinement wouldn't seem to offer anything that could be weaponized, IMO.
 
  • #4
If fusion reactors based on DD reactions are developed, that will likely "lead to a situation of increased nuclear weapons proliferation", but not because of new techniques to generate fusion. The neutrons from the DD reactions can be absorbed in U238 to produce Pu239, and the tritium from the DD reactions can be removed for use in nuclear weapons.
 
  • #5
Astronuc
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Some experts claim that the technology to create pure fusion bombs already exists, although the resulting device wouldn't result in any real advantages over conventional explosives (source).
Not a scientifically reliable source.

Deuterium and tritium are also considered the most likely fuels for a fusion reactor. The deuterium would likely be extracted from heavy water (interestingly, heavy water reactors are also well suited for producing tritium and plutonium), which isn't really that rare or exotic a material, certainly not when compared to highly enriched uranium or plutonium, and it would likely be less expensive and more readily available if used as a fusion fuel.
d+t is the easiest reaction to obtain, since it has higher cross-section at the lowest temperatures. d+d would be more preferable, as would aneutronic reactions such as d+3He or p+11B.

One of the problems with mixed-gas systems is that there are side reactions, and when Z increases, the energy losses from various radiation mechanisms increases.

If fusion power were developed could improved knowledge of the fusion reaction process and the ready availability of deuterium lead to a situation of increased nuclear weapons proliferation?
We know a lot about fusion reactions. The challenge is in the engineering, which usually requires large EM-mechanical systems to confine and heat the plasma. Fortunately, that does not lend itself to weapons.

In short, the answer to the question is, No!
 
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