Nuclear Fusion Reactors

What Is Nuclear Fusion?

Nuclear fusion is the process where the nuclei of two light atoms combine to form a new nucleus. This is another way of producing nuclear energy, like nuclear fission, although in nuclear fission the nucleus of a heavier atom splits. Now let us learn how the energy is produced by nuclear fusion.

When two light nuclei combine in a fusion reaction, the combination has a mass that is less than the mass of the initial individual nuclei. This means that the reaction gives out energy according to Einstein’s mass-energy equivalence.
An example of a fusion reaction is that of the combination of Deuterium and Tritium, which are isotopes of Hydrogen to give Helium and releasing a neutron and giving out around 17 MeV of energy.

Nuclear Fusion Reactors

Important Terminologies

  • Nuclear binding energy: It is defined as the energy required to split the nucleus of an atom
    into its components.
  • Nucleon: It is defined as one of the subatomic particles i.e; proton or a neutron.
  • Fusion: It is defined as a nuclear reaction in which the nuclei combines to form a massive nuclei with release of neutrons and energy.
  • Types of Fusion Reactors:

    Based on confinement we can separate these reactors into two types.

  • Magnetic Confinement:
  • Here, the hot plasma is checked from touching the walls of the confining material by use of magnetic fields. The temperatures achieved are extremely high and therefore they are kept from touching material

  • Inertial Confinement
  • Here, the high energy density is put into a small pellet of reactors fusing them in such a short span that they don’t have the time to touch the confining material

    Parts Of A Magnetic Confinement Reactor

  • Vacuum vessel: It is used to hold the plasma and to keep the reaction chamber in a vacuum.
  • Neutral beam injector: It is used to inject particle beams from the accelerator into the plasma in
    order to heat the plasma to its critical temperature.
  • Magnetic field coils: Using magnetic fields, the plasma is confined in the superconducting magnets.
  • Central solenoid: It is used to provide electricity to the magnetic field coils.
  • Cooling equipment: It is used to cool down the magnets.
  • Blanket modules: These are used to absorb heat and high-energy neutrons from the fusion reaction.
  • Diverters: Used to exhaust the helium products.
  • Advantages Of Nuclear Fusion

    Following are the advantages of nuclear fusion:

  • It is a safe source for the generation of electricity.
  • It is economic and sustainable.
  • The amount of fuel available in nature is abundant and is inexpensive.
  • The greenhouse gases produced during the process of fusion is minimal.
  • Stay tuned with BYJU’S to learn more about other Physics related concepts.

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