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Identifying the science involved in nuclear fusion and is it the energy for the future?

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This report is based on the visit to a cutting edge research facility called the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) in a location at Culham. This organization is one of the leading research institutes in the development of experimental activities involving nuclear fusion. It is based outside London whereby United teams of European scientists work together in an aim to produce a long term supply of energy using the nuclear fusion technique.

The main purpose of our visit to this establishment was to clearly identify and describe the science used in this respected research institute.

Aspects of Physics Observed

During our visit to the facility, there were many aspects of physics used. An example of these physics aspects was the use of a large fusion nuclear reactor called the Joint European Torus (JET).This was a type of high temperature fussing machine of atomic nuclei that released vast amounts of energy. It was also a magnetically confining machine that actively detained high temperature plasmas using magnetic fields generated by large magnetic coils and also force the plasma into a kind of ring shaped configuration known as a torus. In order for the tokamak equipment to function and to get to the incredible plasma temperature (of about 15 million °C and over), large currents with over 1 million amperes were put in and all propelled into the same direction which became all heated up and thus forming a plasma current.

The magnetic fields were created using current which was then run in a short like direction around the torus. The directions of these magnetic fields known as the poloidal direction then came together to form a set of magnetic field lines which also formed a curled or coiled like structure as they twisted around the torus.

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2 .


1eV = 1.6 × 10-19 Joules

1 MeV = 1.6 × 10-19 (× 106 ) = 1.6 × 10-13 Joules

Therefore 17.59 MeV = (17.59 × 106 ) × ( 1.6 × 10-13 )

                                    = 2.8144 × 10-6 Joules


              Whereby E = 2.8144 × 106 Joules

                              c= 3×108. Therefore c2 = (3× 108)2 = 9×1016 ms-1

m =???? kg


To find “m”, you manipulate the equation E=mc2 to give m = image01.png



                         2.8144 × 10-6 joules


                            9×1016 ms-1

The above calculation concludes that the amount of mass destroyed and converted into energy is = 3.13× 10-23.

Deuterium and tritium are both isotopes of hydrogen. Isotopes are basically atoms of the same element which have the same number of protons but with a different number of neutrons in the nuclei.

Deuterium occurs naturally in nature (from ordinary water) and there is about 35 grams of deuterium in every cubic metre of water. Tritium is quite hard to acquire as it is not found in nature naturally. Therefore tritium is artificially extracted from lithium (a metal which is abundantly found in the earth’s crust). This process is done by lithium being bombarded by a neutron which leads to a reaction in producing tritium. The equation for this process is:


To conclude, the primary reactants needed for fusion energy practiced at JETisinfinite in use.

Plasma Explained

A plasma is an ionized form of extremely hot gas matter which occurs at temperatures of above 10,000ºC. It is usually considered as the fourth form of distinct matter besides solid, liquid and gas and it is made of free ions and electrons. The free ions are composed of atomic nuclei being stripped of electrons when exposed at hot temperatures. This therefore makes a collection of electrically positive charged ions and negatively charged electrons. Examples of plasmas are the sun, lightening and fluorescent light tubes. Different types of plasmas are mixtures of negatively charged electrons and positive charged ions (and sometimes negative ions as well as neutral atoms and molecules). Particles in a plasma move freely in the molecule.

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Future Developments

From my knowledge of future developments in nuclear reactors, experimental studies which is currently being carried on the JET experiment is believed to provide some detailed background information in acquiring similar basic properties in the building process of  ITER..

Currently, The JET experiment holds the world record for released fusion power at 16 million Watts (16MW). This is “a value comparable to the power needed for heating one thousand households in a cold winter.” http://www.jet.efda.org/pages/focus/010jetanditer/index.html#overall

In future developments, it is predicted that the ITER experiment which is estimated to finish construction at the end of year 2006 in France would release an amazing fusion power of 500 Million Watts. This, by my accurate calculations, is enough to power up to 31,250 homes on a cold winter night.

The future properties of ITER when construction is finished is going to be entirely based around a hydrogen plasma torus which would operate at temperatures of above 200 Million °C  and also by the use of super conducting coils to generate high temperature plasmas which would yield better energy efficiencies give more energy outputs.

In the size of ITER’s components compared to the current JET nuclear reactor, ITER is estimated to be 10 times bigger than JET in size.



Name Of Book

Authors Name

ISBN Number

Name Of Publisher’s

Year Of Publishment

Understanding Physics For Advanced Level (Second Edition)

Jim Breithaupt


Stanley Thornes Publishers Ltd


Salters Horners Advanced Physics


0435 628909

Heinimann Educational Publishers



  1. http://www.jet.efda.org/images/gallery/images/82-348cmed.jpg.
  1. http://www.plasma.inpe.br/LAP_Portal/LAP_Site/Text/Plasma_Confinement.htm
  1. http://www.sbf.admin.ch/htm/international/org/fusion-e.html
  1. http://europa.eu.int/comm/research/energy/fu/fu_rt/fu_rt_mc/article_1227_en.htm
  1. http://www-fusion-magnetique.cea.fr/gb/fusion/principes/principes01.htm
  1. http://www.jet.efda.org/pages/focus/006heating/index.html#ohmic
  1. http://www-fusion-magnetique.cea.fr/gb/fusion/principes/principes01.htm

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