An option to darkness. An Ultracrepidarian guide to nuclear fusion (Robur, debilitas , tempus et periculum)
Currently, our world seem not to be in much need of an energy innovation; depending who you are asking ; The energy cycle is perfectly elliptical; From mining , refining to utility. we have perfected the process, there are enough coal lumps and dark viscous oil in the ground to last aeons. Throw in a few shale rocks, the earth’s restless mantle, and some elevated rivers then a celebration is in order; we filled up our energy barns.
But the earth is still in a dire energy situation; not of need, but of type. Fossil is killing the planet. Far from the necessary obligation to save mother Earth, there exist, an enormous energy debt meant to be paid in the purest of energy currencies and by choices we make. To continue with the current energy cycle would mean much more to worry about then just bleached corals of the Great barrier reef.
Nuclear fusion offer so much potentials in helping with this debt; if explored in entity and supported with more enthusiasm. With an abundant fuel supply, and useful waste, we could achieve the first fully self sustaining industrial ecology. Where fusion waste drive transportation.
For one, Fusion differ from its more explosive cousin, Fission in it’s lack of pathway for weaponization. While Fission vents off energy from spiting atoms, Fusion is more constructive, choosing to play Lego blocks with elements.
This process arranges isotopes of fuel elements ( usually hydrogen) through a selective process of alchemy where protons are exchange, and the atoms fuses into a semi- solid state called plasma. To churn out new elements — and some free energy. That energy is trapped as heat to stream water, which turn turbines.
The process isn't new as much bigger Stars, and our Sun have been forcefully marrying atoms of Hydrogen under — super high pressure — for eons . The process cloud be repeated on earth in reactors, hence why Fusion is colloquially referred to as bottling a star.
1Hydrogen ( Deuterium ) + 1H ( Tritium ) = He2 ( Helium) + Mev (energy ) stired but not shaken.
Although they are many, the two major reactor types for “ bottling a star” are:
The Magnetic confinement reactor ( Tokamak )
This attempts to achieve the stability of the sun’s pressure by suspending the plasma in an electromagnetic field, preventing it from touching any surface risking expansion and thus cooling. A major experiment is under way at ITER France, using this system.
Inertial confinement fusion reactor (icf)
This is favoured by the US with experimentation at the NIF California. This attempts to bombard tiny fuel pellets, so tiny they fit on the index fingers ( isotopes of hydrogen D &T) to start a chain reaction.
All researches are still in experimental phase. But the overlying issue with fusion is its negative net energy. More energy is expended firing lasers and sustaining magnetic fields then is gotten from the set-up.
Another would be one part of it’s fuel scarcity. Deuterium is abundant in sea water but Tritium isn't, although alternatively, Helium 3 could be used as replacement for Tritium.
Fusion offer a future of little waste and minute radiation. There is very little chance of a run away reaction, hence making it safe for countries with a abysmal maintenance culture.
Alternatives to fusion like solar, wind and Geothermal systems have all fallen short to meet with the consistency, and efficiency of carbon based fuels. Hydro-electric used to hold sway, but recent events in Australia have shown how vulnerable nature could leave us in drought.
Fusion is the way forward. Looking it’s offering, limitless free power and a more better chance of switching fully to a truly sustainable electrical economy without the option of fossil. Fusion is worth the try.