Nuclear Fusion as an Energy Source

December 10, 2015


My name is Kate Kilpatrick, and I am a scientist. The goal of my most recent lab was to use nuclear fusion to produce energy. In my lab, I discovered the method of direct conversion. Direct conversion is the newest way of producing energy through nuclear fusion, and it has not yet been used in an industrial setting. In my lab, I advanced the process of direct conversion so that soon it will be able to be widely used.

Direct Conversion

The method of direct conversion converts fast-moving charged particles directly into electrical current. This is possible because potential energy can be transformed into kinetic energy. A 100 kilo-volt ion collector creates a hill-like slope that the particles must climb. The kinetic energy of the positive particles is transformed into potential energy as the particles move to the ion collector. When the ions reach the ion collector they take ions from it and this removes electrons from the target plate, which increases the positive potential energy. Because electrons are relatively light, the electrons are reflected towards an electron reflector grid with a negative potential energy of -10 kilo-volts. The negative potential attracts positive ions but these ions are moving with lots of momentum so they fly past the electron reflector grid and hit the ion collectors. This current flow becomes electric energy.

Nuclear Fusion vs Nuclear Fission

Both nuclear fusion and nuclear fission release energy due to high-powered atomic bonds between particles within a nucleus. Nuclear Fusion creates energy by two small atoms fusing together to create a large atom, while nuclear fission creates energy by splitting an atom into two or more smaller parts. Nuclear fusion takes extremely high energy levels in order to bring the protons close enough together to overcome the repulsion while it takes little energy to spilt two atoms in a nuclear fission reaction. Nuclear fission releases amounts of energy a million times greater than a chemical reaction, but nuclear fusion releases 3 or 4 times the large amount produced by nuclear fission. While nuclear fusion takes more energy to produce, the amount of energy released is more than that of nuclear fission.

Safety Concerns of Nuclear Power

Nuclear accidents can be extremely harmful to people and the environment. Longterm exposure to nuclear radiation can damage body cells and lead to cancer. Exposure to high levels of radiation leads to radiation sickness, and can lead to death. The disposal of nuclear waste is an issue because it is harmful and cannot be disposed of regularly. Nuclear waste must be buried and guarded.

Pros to Nuclear Power

Nuclear power benefits the economy because it doesn't rely on fossil fuels and therefore is not affected by the fluctuating costs of oil and gas. The cost of uranium, which is used as a fuel to generate the electricity, is low.

The usage of nuclear will have a great impact on the environment because nuclear power emits very little amounts of carbon dioxide. Therefore, the use of nuclear energy will help to lessen our carbon footprint.