posted on Jun, 19 2004 @ 05:47 PM
Ouizel was pretty much on with the basics. There's many types of fusion, but the most promising to start use deuterium (D, proton+neutron), and
tritium (T, proton+2 neutrons). Couple of the reactions:
D + D -> T + p
D + D -> He3 + n
D + T -> He4 + n
D + He3 -> He4 + p
Notice that the first D + D reaction (known as DDp) releases a tritiuim, which can then react with another deuterium nucleus to produce a helium-4
nucleus (alpha particle). This is important since the alpha particle is the most promising for harnessing the energy.
Anyways, deuterium is obtained from heavy water (D2O), which can be manufactured from light water (H2O). Also, there is a considerable quantity of
deuterium in the ocean, which would, for essential purposes, be limitless. There is thought to be a large amount of He3 on the moon, so there have
been proposals to use that for interplanetary missions.
I should note that inertial confinement fusion, which uses particle beams or lasers to compress a small deuterium pellet, might use a little bit of
uranium as an ablative layer. This means that it acts as a pusher - as the laser heats it, it vaporizes, resulting in a compressive reactive
Regarding fission, we will run out of uranium sooner than that if the US gov't doesn't allow us to reprocess fuel. We waste a lot of potential fuel
with this once-through cycle, and we also generate a lot of excess waste. Additionally, if the breeder reactor program is restarted, we'd
essentially never run out of fuel, as breeder reactors can us thorium, which is much more abundant than uranium.
Hope I didn't get too technical - let me know if anything is unclear.