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Nuclear Fusion and Nuclear Fission, safety and efficiency

  1. Jun 22, 2011 #1
    Hello,
    I am doing a small research investigation into whether Nuclear Fusion will provide a safer and as efficient energy source as current Fission technology. Just interested if anybody has opinions on the topic and what their stance is on Nuclear Fusion, do they think it can work, any other ideas on the topic.

    Thanks Dylan.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 22, 2011 #2

    Astronuc

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    Re:  Nuclear Fusion and Nuclear Fission, safety and efficiency

    The challenge with fusion is to make it work - at all. So far it has been demonstrated experimentally, but not to the point that a sustained steady-state reaction that generates net energy gain in maintained, and particularly with an aneutronic, or a predominantly aneutronic reaction.
     
  4. Jun 22, 2011 #3

    Drakkith

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    Re:  Nuclear Fusion and Nuclear Fission, safety and efficiency

    It is my opinion that efficient Nuclear Fusion for use as a power source is only a matter of time. A look into the history of fusion power shows that there has been a substantial increase in efficiency, temperature, and confinement time from the 50's up to now.

    Fusion can already be shown to be safer in the long run than Fission, with its major waste products from the dirtiest fuels lasting on about 100 years instead of thousands. This greatly reduces the expense, danger, and construction requirements of waste storage sites.

    In addition, there is literally zero chance of any dangerous "meltdown" or similar incident at a fusion plant. The physics behind fusion require that we heat the fuel to millions of degrees AND keep it confined to a space sufficiently small enough for it to fuse efficiently. Any loss of containment instantly causes the fusion reactions to cease, as the confinement of the fuel has been lost.

    Now, I want to make sure that you understand that there ARE dangers with Fusion just like there are with any power source. The easiest fuel to use produces large amounts of radiation that, while being able to be shielded and harnessed, can still be dangerous if people do not follow safety procedures adequately. A breach in the reactor itself would release radioactive tritium and similar substances, however the amounts and makeup of these are drastically less harmful than any Fission reactor. That of course is assuming a complete breach from the reactor all the way through any protective containment buildings and similar objects.
     
  5. Jun 23, 2011 #4

    mheslep

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    Re:  Nuclear Fusion and Nuclear Fission, safety and efficiency

    Beyond achieving net power with fusion technically, I see no path making it work economically with any of the existing experimental reactors, neither with tokamaks nor implosion.
     
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2011
  6. Jun 23, 2011 #5

    mathman

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    Ever since the 1960's fusion power has been 20 years away.
     
  7. Jun 23, 2011 #6

    Astronuc

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    When I took a course in Fusion Engineering (ca 1982), it was ten years out. by 2000, it was 20 years out. Certainly, it's been a shifting target.
     
  8. Jun 23, 2011 #7

    Drakkith

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    What do you mean? Those reactors are experimental because we cannot accomplish it yet. Are you saying that you don't see current technology progressing to the point of economically cheap power?

    Yep. Fusion has been an exceedingly difficult. However I don't think anyone can deny the progress that has resulted from decades of research. Whether we will or will not achieve our goal in the end, is unknowable.
     
  9. Jun 23, 2011 #8

    mheslep

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    No I do not, not in the next many decades.
     
  10. Jun 24, 2011 #9

    Drakkith

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    Fair enough.
     
  11. Jun 27, 2011 #10
    Thanks for the replys, there seems to be alot of different opinions and aspects to the Fusion debate. IT will be interesting to see what the future holds with the test reacters.
     
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