Press Release: Nuclear Fusion

By: Ayesha

Date: 5/6/16

My name is Ayesha Darekar and I work at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California, funded by NASA. I have recently discovered that nuclear fusion can be used as an energy resource.
In my experiments, I have found out that nuclear fusion generates energy. Fusing light atoms is what produces this energy. An example of a light atom is hydrogen. These light atoms must be fused at extremely high temperatures, which exist at the center of the Sun. You see, nuclear fusion is what powers the Sun and all the other stars in our universe. In fact, nuclear fusion makes Earth suitable for life.
To create such high temperatures, I used a device called a tokamak. This magnetic cage prevents particles from escaping, making it easier to fuse atoms. I used two hydrogen isotopes to demonstrate nuclear fusion: deuterium and lithium. As I experimented, I learned that megawatts of energy can be generated in just a couple of seconds! These significantly high amounts of energy may be able to meet global needs.
However, do not get nuclear fusion confused with nuclear fission. Even though both generate energy because of heated atomic bonds, nuclear fusion and nuclear fission are very different from each other. Fission occurs when an atom is split into at least two smaller atoms. Fusion happens when two atoms fuse together to form a bigger atom. Fusion usually occurs in stars, while fission doesn't happen naturally. Fusion requires high amounts of energy to create nuclear fusion. Fission needs little energy to create nuclear fission.
I have researched some safety concerns and precautions while dealing with nuclear fusion. This process generates not only huge amounts of energy, but neutrons as well. Neutronic radiation has the ability of converting a nucleus into a different isotope. These heavier isotopes are generally radioactive. Therefore, all nuclear fusion facilities must have a wall which will face neutronic radiation as nuclear fusion occurs. This wall will have to be replaced every so often, since it will not take that much time until it erodes completely.
Nuclear fusion can impact our economy greatly, however, it comes with some negatives. It will cost a huge amount of money to construct nuclear fusion facilities. For example, the ITER-Fusion Energy Advanced Tokomak costs about 3 billion dollars. Some conventional energy markets that we use today are oil, gas, and coal. Nuclear fusion may have the potential to reduce our dependency on these nonrenewable resources. In today's world, we have many energy limitations. If these limitations do not exist in the future, then we would most likely be able to mass produce energy from nuclear fusion.