Physics

Energy from Nuclear Fusion



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As the focus has shifted to the Middle East more in the past few years than ever before, some say that it is the result of the oil crisis. Many people believe that we are in a war over protecting our supply of crude oil, which is then refined into energy-producing gasoline. Yet until a fuel or energy source can be found that is efficient and safe, the world must continue to rely on coal and oil for energy. The solar powered machines can only run for so long, and solar panels are relatively expensive. Water and wind power can only be harnessed when they are in abundance. We must look for future energy in another direction for when our fossil fuel runs out.

Nuclear fission is used to produce energy in some places, but it is very dangerous, takes a lot of raw material, and produces harmful radioactive waste, which then must be contained and discarded. If a meltdown occurs, all the waste contained in the plant will escape confinement and poison many people, plants, and animals. A good example of this is Chernobyl, the Soviet nuclear power plant that launched much radioactive waste into the surrounding areas and killed many people. So why is fission used at all, if it is such a dangerous procedure? The answer lies in the fact that we have not found a way to use nuclear fusion instead.

A physics major would assist me in discovering how to use fusion in a practical manner in order to supply energy. Compared to nuclear fission, nuclear fusion is entirely safe with no harmful waste, no possibility of meltdown, and no running out of raw materials, since the process uses hydrogen nuclei. It is a limitless and clean source of energy that poses no health threats. Currently, the process of nuclear fusion is too expensive and inefficient to be used for large-scale energy production.

If a way could be found to have nuclear fusion happen in an efficient and inexpensive manner, there wouldn't be any worries of whether or not the next generation will have enough fuel. The environmentalists wouldn't have to be concerned about destroying the natural habitat of animals, the humanitarians wouldn't worry about how to make sure that everyone had enough power to run things and live in decency, and the citizens of the world wouldn't be so concerned about running out of energy. The global warming that some feel to be a threat would be reduced by using nuclear fusion as a source of energy rather than burning carbon dioxide-producing fossil fuels. Yes, we should still be good stewards of creation and be careful not to waste what we have, but having nuclear fusion as an energy source would remove the concern that we will be left without energy sources. If I could make any scientific discovery, I would find a way to use nuclear fusion for everyday energy! and do it in an efficient manner.



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