The Greatest Challenges Facing Engineers; Using Fusion to Provide Energy

Spoiler alert about the end of World War 2, if you don’t like spoilers then stop reading now.

It resulted in the dropping of atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of hiroshima and nagasaki. For anyone who drinks alcohol, maybe that’s where the term Saki bomb comes from (this article is gonna be filled with bad jokes so if that upset you then go back to facebook so you can read whatever subtley racist pro confederate flag posts your aunt posts).

But, jokes aside, what’s more important to know, is that the hydrogen atomic bombs that were used, utilizing Nuclear fission. Which is the spliting of an atom. Whereas fusion (the combining of 2 atoms). Is estimated to be significantly for more efficient and cost effective.

Figure 1.

My following paragraph was gonna be a joke about the scene from from Sam Raimi’s Spider-man 2, about how Dr octopus tried to recreate the power of the sun in his apartment using nuclear fusion in New York city. Well…. Thanks to my friend Cole Mckiever I now know that this actually occurred. Ironically enough, in New York.

Figure 2.

But let’s pretend for a second that there aren’t people in New York trying to turn themselves into spider-man villains and harness the power of the sun. How can we effectively utilize this type of technology (without bombing innocent civilian obviously)?

According to the first law of thermodynamics, energy will never be created or destroyed. For example, you can use energy to clap your hands, but this physical energy becomes heat and sound energy. It is not lost.

Figure 3.

As you can see in figure 1, we can see that the higher the atomic mass, typically creates a higher binding energy from nuclear fission.

However you’ll also notice that fusion requires significantly less atomic mass. Meaning we can use things other than uranium 235 (which can be purchased on Amazon, but don’t tell anyone that I told you that).

So the creation of nuclear fission, we’d be able able to come across much cheaper and more effective energy sources.

The question then becomes how do we utilize this type of energy source?

Nobody is entirely sure, if they were we’d have a solution by now (and this article would serve no relevance).. But the difficulty is in the fact that 2 positively ion charged atoms (hydrogen in this case) will repel each other so it’s incredibly difficult to get these atoms to slam together essentially to create energy.

The concept has been around for years, e=mc ^2. Energy and mass are transferrable. Shout-out to our good friend Albert for discovering this (ignore the incest). ( Since her name was Elsa, maybe that a precursor to the movie Frozen).

According to the international Atomic Energy Agency

Three main conditions are necessary for a controlled thermonuclear fusion:

  1. The temperature must be hot enough to allow the ions of deuterium and tritium to have enough kinetic energy to overcome the Coulomb barrier and fuse together.
  2. The ions must be confined with a high ion density to achieve a suitable fusion reaction rate.  
  3. The ions must be held together in close proximity at high temperature with a confinement time long enough to avoid cooling.

While we attempt this using modern science, If we get desperate we can just ask Dr octopus.

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