posted on Apr, 28 2004 @ 02:22 AM
As a nuclear engineer, perhaps I can shed some light on this topic. browha was actually pretty close to the necessary criteria for self-sustaining
fusion. There's three parameters we are concerned with: density, confinement (reaction) time, and temperature. The product of these three tells
you whether or not self-sustaining fusion can occur. The actual criterion depends upon the plasma (deuterium, tritium, helium-3, etc), but at a
temperature of 20 keV (~200 million Kelvin), density*time needs to be greater than 10e20 to 10e21 s/m^3.
I should point out that there's two ways to produce fusion that are being researched: magnetic confinement and inertial confinement. Magnetic
confinement is the more common of the two, and several devices have been built which can nearly produce more power than is input. The newly proposed
reactor, ITER (International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor) is fully expected to produce power. The hopes for inertial confinement lie mainly in
the National Ignition Facility (NIF) being constructed at Lawerence Livermore. It will use lasers to compress a fuel pellet to acheive the necessary
parameters. However, these are methods to produce confined self-sustaining reaction. Weapons don't have nearly the same limits imposed on them, for
You may be wondering, but what about weapons? They're kinda reluctant to teach us the principles of nuclear weapons (go figure), but I'll try my
best. Does a large conventional explosion have the energy to produce fusion? Yes - but the issue is harnessing that energy. You would have to
transfer a large fraction of the explosive energy to the fuel (probably deuterium or tritium), which would be difficult at least. You're best bet
would be to create a shell of explosive around the fuel, and compress the fuel to create the density and temperature necessary. However, such a
directed explosive is not easy to produce, and would most likely destroy itself before the compression wave reached the necessary magnitude. I have
heard of people trying to design a conventional trigger, with little success. The implications of such a device would be huge. For one thing, it
would be possible to create "clean" bombs of immense power - most of the fallout from a nuclear weapon is from the fission products, while the
products of fusion reactions are nonradioactive or decay very quickly. A friend of mine who was theorizing on this topic with me put it this way -
"Imagine soldiers being able to fire a 120-mm mortar that packs the punch of a 500-lb bomb." Perhaps in the future conventional explosives will be
developed that can succeed in triggering a fusion reaction.
Hopefully I came close to answering the question somewhere in that dissertation on nuclear fusion.