Choosing Nuclear Fusion for Generating Electricity

While fossil fuels is rapidly depleting, the world’s population has to consider other sources of energy for the future. Choosing nuclear fusion over nuclear fission for generating electricity needs to be looked at to understand the differences between the two. Fission is accomplished by splitting an atom into two or more parts and fusion is the bombarding of hydrogen atoms to form helium. Regardless of our choice, we need an energy source that is renewable, sustainable, and has the least environmental impact.

Fission splits an atom in a particle accelerator.

The amount of energy produced is far greater when derived from fusion power plants. There are initial disadvantages in that it takes money and time to develop the technology to sustain, contain and initiate but it is in early stages of development. Fission easily creates a chain reaction and it must use a modulator to slow it down and to avoid a meltdown. It can only occur at temperatures of approximately 100 million Celsius.

A big concern people have in the creation of these types of power is their potential radioactive waste. The waste produced from fission is active for thousands of years. Fusion, on the other hand, produces short lived radiation that decays within 50 to 100 years and the radioactivity is confined to the power plant itself, it is not transported for reprocessing, storage or disposal. Neither one emits greenhouse gases that contribute to acid rain or global warming.

Energy demand will certainly increase over the next few decades with power demands increasing in developing countries. Over the long-term, the advantages are there is no atmospheric pollution, it has a low cost and abundant source, there is no long-lived radioactive waste and it is safe.

Choosing nuclear fusion over nuclear fission for generating electricity requires a lot of research to find the benefits and the risks associated with both methods. It seems that fusion has more potential even though the cost is initially higher and the development will take longer.