Working of power plants based on nuclear fusion technology
Nuclear fusion relates to nuclear power. So let us start with the process involved for getting nuclear power. There are, mainly, two processes involved:
Most of the present day nuclear power plants use this process to get power. This process uses a conventional method of splitting one atom into two. Here high-energy neutrons split heavy atoms of uranium. This results in release of huge amount of energy. However, this also releases large radioactive wastes and high radiation waves, which remain for long period.
To avoid such leakages and radioactive waste resulting from this reaction, we have now Nuclear Fusion.
This process gives efficient and huge quantity of power, which is cleaner and safer also. This type of reaction can be compared to that of the SUN itself.
In nuclear Fusion two atoms come together to form one. This reaction releases vast energy. In a Fusion reactor Hydrogen atoms come together to form Helium atoms and neutrons along with huge amounts of energy. There are many types of fusion reaction. To understand same, we must know the meaning of certain Isotopes that are involved in such reactions.
Isotopes are atoms of the same element, which have same number of protons and electrons but different number of neutrons. Given below are some common isotopes used in nuclear fusion.
This is a Hydrogen isotope with no neutron and one proton. This is the commonest form of element.
This also is a Hydrogen isotope with one each proton and neutron. It is not radioactive.
This again is a Hydrogen isotope with two neutrons and one proton. It does not occur naturally and can be by smashing lithium with neutrons. It is radioactive also.
Helium-4 is the most naturally occurring form of helium and it has two each of protons and neutrons.
Nuclear fusion is a process in which number of atomic particles join together to form a heavier nucleus. Huge release or absorption of energy accompanies this reaction. When a nuclear fusion reaction chain is uncontrolled, it can cause huge thermonuclear explosion like that of a Hydrogen bomb. However, some non-self sustaining reactions can still release heavy number of neutrons and large amount of energy.
There are a number of fusion reactions. Most of these involve .deuterium and tritium. We will explain below the proton-proton chain, a sequence of fusion reaction.
- Two deuterium atoms are made, when two pairs of protons come together.
- Each deuterium atom combines with a proton to form a helium-3 atom.
- Two helium-3 atoms combine to form an unstable beryllium-6
- Beryllium-6 decays into two helium-4 atoms
Thus nuclear fusion reactions produce high-energy particles like electrons, neutrinos, positrons and protons. The radioactive waves like gamma and light rays are also produced. Readers can also look at articles giving varied information, at other topics.