The Sun In A Bottle
Nuclear fusion typically takes place at extremely high temperatures, such as in the sun or other stars. In the process of nuclear fusion, two or more light nuclei combine to form one or more nuclei of slightly less mass than the combined mass of the original light nuclei.
Fusion means joining smaller nuclei to make a larger nucleus. The sun uses nuclear fusion of hydrogen atoms into helium atoms. This gives off heat and light and other radiation. In the picture above, two types of hydrogen atoms, deuterium and tritium, combine to make a helium atom and an extra particle - a neutron. Also given off in this fusion reaction is energy. Scientists have been working on controlling nuclear fusion for a long time, trying to make a fusion reactor to produce electricity. However, they have been having trouble learning how to control the reaction in a contained space. What's better about nuclear fusion is that it creates less radioactive material than fission, and its supply of fuel can last longer than the sun.
Journal Entry # 35
A) Why must the kinetic energy of the reacting particles in a nuclear fusion reaction be extremely high?
B) If hydrogen is abundant, and can release so much energy per gram, why isn't it being used more as a fuel we can use for
our energy needs?
C) Write an equation for nuclear fusion using the diagram above.
Adapted from http://www.energyquest.ca.gov/story/chapter13.html