Focus Controlled nuclear fusion has the potential to provide a clean, safe energy source with an essentially limitless supply of fuel, relatively few proliferation concerns (compared with those mentioned in Chapter 14), and substantially fewer of the waste-management concerns discussed in Chapter 15. Large experimental devices currently under construction are intended to demonstrate net fusion energy production, a key technological milestone on the way toward the commercial production of electricity. The economic practicality of energy from fusion processes, however, will still require other significant advances, including in the development of materials that can survive the harsh fusion environment. Synopsis The nuclear fusion of light elements is the energy source of the stars. A fusion-based power plant holds the prospect of a nearly limitless fuel source, without the concerns of greenhouse-gas emissions, nuclear proliferation, or serious waste management. While the release of enormous amounts of energy from this process has long been demonstrated in weapons, controlling and harnessing this energy for electricity production constitutes a technologically much more difficult problem. At present, the fusion community is exploring two major approaches to controlled nuclear fusion: magnetic confinement and inertial confinement. In the magnetic fusion energy (MFE) approach, powerful magnetic fields confine low-density hydrogen plasma as it is heated to very high temperatures. In the inertial fusion energy (IFE) approach, tiny pellets of solid hydrogen are compressed to very high densities and temperatures.
|Title of host publication
|Fundamentals of Materials for Energy and Environmental Sustainability
|Cambridge University Press
|Number of pages
|Published - Jan 1 2011
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes