Is it the perfect source of energy for the UK? Minhyuk Shin, Wilson School


We are at a tipping point. As cliché as it sounds, there is a definite need for a clean, renewable source of energy that will enable energy security while being environmentally friendly. At the rate we use fossil fuels, we have 115 years of coal production and around 50 years of oil and natural gas remaining, with just 14% of the UK’s energy coming from renewables, the rest being from renewable sources. fossil fuels. This is where nuclear fusion can be revolutionary.

Nuclear fusion is a nuclear reaction in which atomic nuclei of low atomic number merge to form a heavier nucleus with the release of energy. Fusion reactors use this principle and use isotopes of hydrogen such as deuterium and tritium (or a mixture of the 2), which react more easily than individual protons, to produce unimaginable amounts of energy that could drive any the nation.

Now you might be wondering why we should choose to invest hundreds of billions, if not billions of billions in nuclear fusion when other sustainable sources are available. However, if thermonuclear fusion is sustainable and clean without the production of radioactive waste, it is incomparably more efficient: a glass of water of 250 milliliters (ml) will contain about 1.6 × 1025 hydrogen atoms and the complete fusion of all these hydrogen nuclei would release approximately 1.7214 joules (J) of energy.

Not only will this benefit the planet and our energy crisis, but it will help energy become more affordable as electricity bills go down with excess energy. In addition, it gives us a very reliable source of energy if the reaction can be maintained at all times and allows us more freedom with our use of energy (no longer available for non-essential purposes).

However, there are still barriers to the commercial use of nuclear fusion with our current technology. Currently, one of the main problems is that we are using so much energy to start the reaction that the energy produced does not compensate for the energy input. If we could make sure that this reaction continues to occur, the energy could balance out, but it is only sustainable for 6 minutes, which means it is not practical at the moment.

In addition, no method has been proven to contain the plasma (when electrons leave the gas envelopes at extreme temperatures) despite prototypes of magnetic fields being tested.

Professor Stephen Hawking said: “I would like nuclear fusion to become a practical energy source. It would provide an inexhaustible source of energy, without pollution or global warming ”. With the right investment in the infostructure, I truly believe that nuclear fusion will help us generate electricity in a sustainable manner.


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