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  • Define nuclear fusion.
  • Discuss processes to achieve practical fusion energy generation.

While basking in the warmth of the summer sun, a student reads of the latest breakthrough in achieving sustained thermonuclear power and vaguely recalls hearing about the cold fusion controversy. The three are connected. The Sun’s energy is produced by nuclear fusion (see [link] ). Thermonuclear power is the name given to the use of controlled nuclear fusion as an energy source. While research in the area of thermonuclear power is progressing, high temperatures and containment difficulties remain. The cold fusion controversy centered around unsubstantiated claims of practical fusion power at room temperatures.

This figure shows Sun rays piercing clouds to illuminate a natural scene.
The Sun’s energy is produced by nuclear fusion. (credit: Spiralz)

Nuclear fusion is a reaction in which two nuclei are combined, or fused , to form a larger nucleus. We know that all nuclei have less mass than the sum of the masses of the protons and neutrons that form them. The missing mass times c 2 size 12{c rSup { size 8{2} } } {} equals the binding energy of the nucleus—the greater the binding energy, the greater the missing mass. We also know that BE / A size 12{"BE"/A} {} , the binding energy per nucleon, is greater for medium-mass nuclei and has a maximum at Fe (iron). This means that if two low-mass nuclei can be fused together to form a larger nucleus, energy can be released. The larger nucleus has a greater binding energy and less mass per nucleon than the two that combined. Thus mass is destroyed in the fusion reaction, and energy is released (see [link] ). On average, fusion of low-mass nuclei releases energy, but the details depend on the actual nuclides involved.

This figure is a graph of atomic mass as horizontal axis versus binding energy per nucleon as vertical axis showing that, as a function of atomic mass, the binding energy per nucleon steeply increases from zero to about 9 M e V per nucleon then, after attaining a peak, slowly decreases to about 8 M e V per nucleon.
Fusion of light nuclei to form medium-mass nuclei destroys mass, because BE / A size 12{"BE"/A} {} is greater for the product nuclei. The larger BE / A size 12{"BE"/A} {} is, the less mass per nucleon, and so mass is converted to energy and released in these fusion reactions.

The major obstruction to fusion is the Coulomb repulsion between nuclei. Since the attractive nuclear force that can fuse nuclei together is short ranged, the repulsion of like positive charges must be overcome to get nuclei close enough to induce fusion. [link] shows an approximate graph of the potential energy between two nuclei as a function of the distance between their centers. The graph is analogous to a hill with a well in its center. A ball rolled from the right must have enough kinetic energy to get over the hump before it falls into the deeper well with a net gain in energy. So it is with fusion. If the nuclei are given enough kinetic energy to overcome the electric potential energy due to repulsion, then they can combine, release energy, and fall into a deep well. One way to accomplish this is to heat fusion fuel to high temperatures so that the kinetic energy of thermal motion is sufficient to get the nuclei together.

The graph shows potential energy as a function of distance r. The potential energy is negative for small r, then rises sharply to a positive peak at medium r, then falls back asymptotically to zero for large r. The curve at small r is labeled “attractive nuclear,” and the curve at large r is labeled “repulsive Coulomb.” A small ball is drawn to the left of the peak with an arrow indicating that the ball is moving down the potential energy curve toward the negative potential energy well. This ball is labeled “pulled together.” Another small ball is drawn to the right of the peak with an arrow indicating it is moving toward larger r. This ball is labeled “repelled.”
Potential energy between two light nuclei graphed as a function of distance between them. If the nuclei have enough kinetic energy to get over the Coulomb repulsion hump, they combine, release energy, and drop into a deep attractive well. Tunneling through the barrier is important in practice. The greater the kinetic energy and the higher the particles get up the barrier (or the lower the barrier), the more likely the tunneling.

Questions & Answers

a thick glass cup cracks when hot liquid is poured into it suddenly
Aiyelabegan Reply
because of the sudden contraction that takes place.
railway crack has gap between the end of each length because?
Aiyelabegan Reply
For expansion
Please i really find it dificult solving equations on physic, can anyone help me out?
Big Reply
what is the equation?
fersnels biprism spectrometer how to determined
Bala Reply
how to study the hall effect to calculate the hall effect coefficient of the given semiconductor have to calculate the carrier density by carrier mobility.
what is the difference between atomic physics and momentum
Nana Reply
find the dimensional equation of work,power,and moment of a force show work?
Emmanuel Reply
What's sup guys
cul and you all
cool you bro
so what is going on here
hello peeps
Michelson Morley experiment
Riya Reply
how are you
am good
Calculate the final velocity attained, when a ball is given a velocity of 2.5m/s, acceleration of 0.67m/s² and reaches its point in 10s. Good luck!!!
Eklu Reply
vf=vi+at vf=2.5+ 0.67*10 vf= 2.5 + 6.7 vf = 9.2
s = vi t +1/2at sq s=58.5 s=v av X t vf= 9.2
how 2.68
v=u+at where v=final velocity u=initial velocity a=acceleration t=time
the answer is 9.2m/s
express your height in Cm
Emmanuel Reply
my project is Sol gel process how to prepare this process pls tell me
the dimension of work and energy is ML2T2 find the unit of work and energy hence drive for work?
Emmanuel Reply
Two bodies P and Quarter each of mass 1000g. Moved in the same direction with speed of 10m/s and 20m/s respectively. Calculate the impulse of P and Q obeying newton's 3rd law of motion
Shimolla Reply
the answer is 0.03n according to the 3rd law of motion if the are in same direction meaning they interact each other.
definition for wave?
Doc Reply
A disturbance that travel from one medium to another and without causing permanent change to its displacement
In physics, a wave is a disturbance that transfers energy through matter or space, with little or no associated mass transport (Mass transfer). ... There are two main types ofwaves: mechanical and electromagnetic. Mechanicalwaves propagate through a physical matter, whose substance is being deformed
thanks jare
Note: LINEAR MOMENTUM Linear momentum is defined as the product of a system’s mass multiplied by its velocity: size 12{p=mv} {}
what is physic
zalmia Reply
please gave me answar
Study of matter and energy
physics is the science of matter and energy and their interactions
physics is the technology behind air and matter
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Easy to learn
31. Calculate the initial (from rest) acceleration of a proton in a 5.00×106 N/C electric field (such as created by a research Van de Graaff). Explicitly show how you follow the steps in the Problem-Solving Strategy for electrostatics.
Catina Reply
A tennis ball is projected at an angle and attains a range of 78. if the velocity is 30metres per second, calculate the angle
what friction
Wisdom Reply
question on friction
the rubbing of one object or surface against another.
momentum is the product of mass and it's velocity.
what are bioelements?
Friction is a force that exist between two objects in contact. e.g. friction between road and car tires.
Practice Key Terms 6

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Source:  OpenStax, College physics. OpenStax CNX. Jul 27, 2015 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11406/1.9
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