Nuclear fusion's power supply is safe, yet yields enormous amounts of energy. One gallon of water (H2O) provides the same amount of energy as 315 gallons of gasoline. Water is also one of the most abundent compounds on Earth, so the fuel supply would be unlimited and theoretically outlive the human race.
Three Mile Island, Fission Power Plant
(Microsoft Encarta 98)
I. Comparison to Fission Power Plants
A. No radioactive bioproducts compared to the plutonium -238 produced
B. No heavy lead/concrete shielding from radiation
C. There is almost no possibility of a reactor accident because there is a limited amount of fuel in the reactor and if the system malfunctioned the delicate balance needed to maintain fusion would be lost and the reaction would stop naturally.
II. Replacement for Internal Combustion Engines
A. No harmful greenhouse gases or products of incomplete combustion are produced.
1. for example, carbon dioxide, (CO2), sulfur dioxide (SO2), carbon monoxide (CO), nitrogen dioxide (NO2)
B. The fuel supply for fusion (water) is not succeptible to spontaneous combustion and explosion like gasoline.
C. Price of fuel much cheaper, $6.583 x 10-3/1 gallon of water, > $1.00/1 gallon of gasoline.
Theoretical Fusion Spacecraft
(Scientific America, February 1999)
III. Power Supply for Spacecraft
A. Fusion based propulsion system yields 100 trillion joules/kilogram of fuel
= energy density 10 million times > chemical rockets
B. When fusion becomes an effecient power source, there will be a problem figuring out how to directing the products as thrust.
1. One solution for magnetic confinement systems is to continually feed a supply of plasma into the reaction, while releasing a small amount for thrust. A magnetic nossle would be required to expel the highly energized particles because they would destroy an matter they encountered.
2. A solution for intertial confinement systems a laser or ion beam would ignite pellets at a rate of 30/sec. A magnetic nossle would also be implemented.
C. Two fuel combinations possible for fusion rocket
a. Easier to initiate due to small nuclear charge of reactants
b. Unlimited supply of fuel, deuterium and tritium found in water and can be extracted via simple electrolysis.
2. Deuterium/Helium 3
a. Harder to initiate due to greater nuclear charge of reactants compared to hydrogen nuclei
b. Fuel supply not as prevelant, deuterium is available but helium 3 is rare on Earth, however, it is common on the Lunar soil and the atmosphere of Jupiter.
c. This fusion reaction produces an alpha particle and a proton, which can easily be manipulated by a magnetic field, making it more practicle for propulsion and manuevering the ship.
IVY MIKE, First H-bomb
IV. Thermonuclear Warhead
A. Fusion reaction that provides the explosion needs primer (small fission reaction) to heat up the H+ to 100 million degrees C.
B. Higher destructive yield compared to fission bomb, >15 megatons. Explosion can create a glowing fireball more than 3 mi in diameter.
1. a 1-kiloton nuclear weapon is one which produces the same amount of energy in an explosion as does one kiloton (or 1,000 tons) of TNT
2. The earliest nuclear bombs (A-bomb), such as the two dropped over Japan in 1945 released very roughly the same quantity of energy as 20,000 tons (or 20 kilotons) of TNT
3. The US W-91 has a yield of 10,100 Kt!
C. Very little radioactive fallout and nuclear winter because fusion creates few, if any radioactive products
The Peacekeeper, The US's largest ICBM
10 Warheads (300 Kt W-87 warhead)/missile
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