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Fusion reaction - a simple explanationJanuary 2011

Andrew Eastwell, Chief Executive (September 1998 - April 2014)

Lots of people are now saying that nuclear power generation is the future of zero carbon energy. At present we only have conventional fission (uranium cycle) reactors that come with all sorts of drawbacks. They produce waste that has to be stored for centuries, have a significant "Bang" potential due to the large amount of fissile material present in the reactor, have the potential to proliferate weapons grade Plutonium and themselves use primary Uranium which will become increasingly difficult to obtain.

Fusion reaction (i.e.a Thermonuclear reaction) has been suggested as a viable future alternative but exactly what is this process? Download a paper giving a duffer's guide to the process.

Fusion technology is over 50 years old and still has yet to yield a commercially workable reactor. If it can be made to work it has the potential to provide energy with very few of the unpleasant side effects associated with fission. It uses abundant and safe primary fuels, does not produce radioactive waste and creates no bomb-making products. As the quantities of fuel involved are very small indeed and the process is definitely not self-sustaining, the "Bang" potential is also exceeding tiny.

All that is needed is the commitment to fund the huge engineering task needed to make it work!

Andrew Eastwell
Chief Executive, BSRIA