Fusion: Harnessing the Power of the Sun Essay

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History

It has been a well-accepted fact that the sun is a source of great power since the early part of this century. In 1929, scientists first theorized that the energy production in stars was created by fusion: nuclear reactions involving light elements reacting to form heavier elements. By the late thirties, H. Bethe had analyzed most of our sun's nuclear fusion cycle. Fusion in our sun is caused when deuterium and tritium, both Hydrogen isotopes, react (in the presence of large amounts of heat) to form Helium, energy, and an extra neutron.

Man-made fusion reactions were thought to be impossible until the first uncontrolled fusion reactions were witnessed when nuclear bombs known as "George" and "Mike" were detonated in 1951 and
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The Tokamak consists of a series of superconducting magnet coils around a toroidal vessel that confine and control plasma and induce an electrical current through. Fusion is created when the plasma is hot and dense enough, and is confined long enough for the atoms to fuse together. In 1968, the T-3 Tokamak had an energy confinement time of only several milliseconds, but this was still much larger than anything that had been developed prior.

Other Tokamaks were built around the world, and after some effort, the Soviet's results were duplicated. Larger Tokamaks were also constructed, such as the Soviet T-10 and the PLT in the United States.
In later versions of the Tokamak (the TFTR in the US, the T-15 in the USSR, JET in Europe, and JT-60 in Japan), additional heating power (in the form of powerful neutral beams) was injected into tokamaks to raise the plasma temperature. The current Tokamak in US production is the ITER. The ITER will be twice as large as existing designs, and much larger fusion reactions are expected. For a detailed schematic of ITER, go to http://www.iter.org. You can also try out an interactive Tokamak at http://ippex.pppl.gov/ippex

Mirror Confinement

Another type of containment is the magnetic mirror method. This method is considered to be the 'open' type. In this system,

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