Pursuing Fusion Power
- November 13, 2023
- Posted by: OptimizeIAS Team
- Category: DPN Topics
Pursuing Fusion Power
Subject : Science and Tech
Section: Nuclear energy
What is Nuclear Fusion:
- The process of nuclear fusion involves the fusion of two atomic nuclei to create a single, heavier nucleus, resulting in a substantial release of energy.
- These reactions necessitate conditions beyond room temperature, requiring significant energy input to facilitate the generation of fusion-powered energy.
- This fundamental reaction is the same process that fuels the sun and other celestial bodies.
Different Fusion Fuel Types:
How is Fusion better than Fission:
- Both fission and fusion harness the binding energy within atomic nuclei, unleashing a significant amount of energy.
- Fission, however, faces challenges due to long-lasting radioactive by-products that necessitate specialized disposal. Accidents, as seen in Three Mile Island (1979) and Chernobyl (1986), can release radioactive material.
- In contrast, fusion reactors, relying on abundant hydrogen, can be established anywhere, eliminating the need for rare radioactive substances.
- Fusion yields substantial energy four times more than fission making it a promising source for future power reactors, offering virtually carbon-free electricity without persistent radioactive residues once commercialized.
Why is Fusion Energy so challenging to achieve:
- The primary challenge in achieving nuclear fusion is initiating and sustaining the fusion reaction.
- Overcoming the repulsion between positively charged atomic nuclei requires achieving high speeds, typically a plasma temperature of at least 100 million degrees Celsius. Researchers employ external energy sources while combating the plasma’s attempts to radiate energy away.
- The second challenge involves confining the superheated nuclei to sustain collisions for an extended period, often using magnetic fields.
- Extracting fusion energy and converting it into electricity, tailored to the fuel mix, forms the final challenge, with potential solutions like neutron-absorbing blankets in deuterium-tritium reactions.
What is International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor( ITER)
- It is an international nuclear fusion research and engineering megaproject aimed at creating energy by replicating on Earth the fusion processes of the Sun.
- When operational it would become the biggest machine anywhere in the world which would be more complex than the Large Hadron Collider at CERN or the LIGO project to detect gravitational waves.
- India joined the ITER project in 2005. The Institute for Plasma Research in Ahmedabad, a laboratory under the Department of Atomic Energy, is the lead institution from the Indian side participating in the project.
- 35 nations are collaborating to build the world’s largest tokamak, a magnetic fusion device that has been designed to prove the feasibility of fusion as a large-scale and carbon-free source of energy
- The ITER Members are China, the European Union, India, Japan, Korea, Russia and the United States