Fusion or fission? The nuclear power that doesn’t hurt

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Physically speaking, nuclear fusion  is that physical phenomenon that also occurs in stars, for which, after a certain temperature, two individual atoms fuse together, overcoming their repulsion forces, and create new internal bonds, thus generating a new element and at the same time high amounts of energy.

Nuclear fission, on the other hand, is that physical process by which nuclei of heavy elements such as thorium and uranium are bombarded and disintegrated with neutrons, generating two large fragments of positive charge that repel each other violently, moving away with high kinetic energy. The kinetic energy generated is transformed into heat, that is, thermal energy, useful for producing steam with which to power a turbine and obtain electricity.

Fusion or fission? The difference between the two

The difference between the two lies mainly in the fact that yes, the second immediately releases more energy, but in doing so it leaves behind what are in jargon called “radioactive waste” or harmful residues of uranium or thorium capable of breaking the bonds of any other molecule or atom it encounters in its path.

Fusion, on the other hand, does not break but rather puts together different atoms thanks to the help of very high temperatures. As a result, high amounts of energy are obtained and a waste that quickly becomes perfectly compatible with the environment, and therefore “clean”.

Why are we struggling so hard to achieve nuclear fusion or fission?

As seen, it is a process that gives energy by creating bonds rather than breaking them, but it is more difficult to obtain than the second. Reaching the temperatures necessary to achieve fusion is very expensive and energy-consuming, and therefore the risk is not to get enough energy back.

And so I think it’s no coincidence that we struggle to understand fusion, since we moderns just break ties. That we have given up the idea of having to struggle, of having to spend energy, to be able to create new bonds,since we have always obtained the energies by breaking them. Because it is the easiest, fastest way.

If you don’t work and research to achieve a goal (energy-efficient and cost-effective nuclear fusion), it’s also clear that it will probably never get it. While if it were taken seriously, the possibility of obtaining an effective result would undoubtedly increase exponentially.

How are we “caught up” with nuclear fusion? Where are we now?

To date, research is still ongoing. And they are also offering excellent results and future prospects. Of course at the moment it still remains a dream, but this dream I believe is worth working to achieve it. Since the gains, both for the environment and for man, nowadays would be more important than ever

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Dott. Lorenzo Bontorin

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