The Powerful Energy of Our Future
On Thursday, May 5, I and my fellow scientists from the Burke Lab in UNC gathered at the annual Carrboro Scientists Summit to discuss our latest advances in research and development in nuclear fusion technology.
Nuclear fusion is the union of atomic nuclei to form heavier nuclei, resulting in the release of enormous amounts of energy. This energy is what powers the sun. Although fission and fusion are both nuclear reactions that produce energy, their applications are not the same. Fission is the splitting of a heavy atomic nucleus into two lighter nuclei. Also, Fission is used in nuclear power reactors because it can be controlled. On the other hand, as mentioned earlier, fusion is the combining of two heavy nuclei, and can't be utilized to provide power because it isn't easy to control it. After years of research, my fellow lab members and I have discovered technology that will harness the power of fusion so it can be used to generate energy. We have created a fusion power plant that initiates reactions with D-T fusion ( Deuterium and Titrium, which are both isotopes of hydrogen.
We consider nuclear fission energy extremely dangerous, but the energy released by a nuclear fusion reaction would a 100 times or more dangerous than energy released by a nuclear fission reaction. Therefore, several safety measures have to be enforced before our nuclear fusion power plant design is put into action. Firstly, we have to a magnetic field or create an artificial one on earth. Magnetic fields are ideal for a nuclear fusion reaction because the electrical charges on the ions will follow the magnetic field and be confined into the structure. Also, magnetic fields make it easier to control the energy inside the structure because we can slow it down or speed it up.
Nuclear fusion is the perfect energy source. 16 megawatts of fusion power is enough to provide electricity to around 8,000 homes. This will hugely reduce the amount of money economies waste on generating electricity. This also means technological advancements such as the creation of structural and functional materials and power conversion.