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Which atoms can be artificially fused?

  1. Sep 12, 2014 #1
    Nuclear fusion research focus on the fusion of hydrogen istopes and its potential forthe production of electric power.

    But is hydrogen the only element that can be artificiallly fused??

    would it be possible to use a farnswrth or polywell fusor or any other type of usion reactor to fuse for example oxygen or sodium?
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 12, 2014 #2


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    Staff: Mentor

    Welcome to the PF.

    Are you familiar with the Nuclear Binding Energy Curve?


  4. Sep 12, 2014 #3


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    Gold Member

    in practice every element can be fused up to Fe in [big] stars. After Fe the stars "explode" in supernovae and then heavier nuclei can be formed...There are also the Big Bang nucleosynthesis, where nuclei up to Li were formed- because the next is an exceptional nucleus (it's Be which prefers to decay into 2 alpha particles...and some others- examples can be found in the element abundances graphs). Eg as in here:

    the easiest thing to do is the fusion of H-H...this can also be seen by a generally widely known astrophysic statement:
    The stars when burning their Hydrogen have a big core [the nuclear fusion happens in the core of the star]... as heavier nuclei are formed, in order for the stars to keep burning their fuels, their core keeps getting smaller and smaller (for big stars that reaches Fe, where then the core collapses). This happens because they start needing more energy (pressure/temperature) to keep on going and overcoming the gravitational collapse. When the next energy needed is not enough, the collapse occurs.
    That's also seen by the nuclear binding energy curve. In stars also, the fusion of Be can be avoided, and thus they can reach to heavier nuclei...
    For that you need to check the chain reactions happening at the stars and those which happened in Big Bang.
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2014
  5. Sep 12, 2014 #4


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    Staff: Mentor

    All nuclei can participate in artificial fusion reactions. It is no problem to get fusion reactions of all atoms with particle accelerators - the big challenge is to make fusion efficient enough for a power plant. There, hydrogen (more specific, the heavy isotopes deuterium and tritium) is the most promising fuel.
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