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Definition: nuclear fusion from The Penguin Dictionary of Science

The process in which two ➤nuclei are made to fuse together to produce a single nucleus. In contrast to ➤nuclear fission, the lightest nuclides are chosen, usually deuterium and tritium, two isotopes of hydrogen. Fusion has been achieved on an uncontrolled scale in the hydrogen bomb (➤nuclear weapon), but so far efforts to duplicate this feat in a controlled way for energy generation have met with only moderate success (➤Joint European Torus). Fusion is the energy source in stars (➤carbon cycle).

Summary Article: nuclear fusion
from The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

Process in which two atomic nuclei are fused, with the release of a large amount of energy. Very high temperatures and pressures are required for the process. Under these conditions the atoms involved are stripped of all their electrons so that the remaining particles, which together make up a plasma, can come close together at very high speeds and overcome the mutual repulsion of the positive charges on the atomic nuclei. At very close range the strong nuclear force will come into play, fusing the particles to form a larger nucleus. As fusion is accompanied by the release of large amounts of energy, the process might one day be harnessed to form the basis of commercial energy production. Methods of achieving controlled fusion are therefore the subject of research around the world.

Fusion is the process by which the Sun and the other stars produce their energy. Power generation by fusion would not produce the vast amounts of dangerous nuclear waste that are a by-product of nuclear fission.



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