Nuclear fusion may be defined as the process of combining two or more light nuclei to form a single heavy nucleus. The nuclear fusion reaction is also accompanied by liberation of a large amount of energy. It is found that the enormous amount of energy produced during nuclear fusion reaction is due to the conversion of some mass into energy. Thus, sum of the masses of products formed in nuclear fusion is slightly less than the sum of masses of reactants.
Nuclear Fusion in the Sun: The production of large amount of heat and light energy by Sun is the best example of nuclear fusion reaction. In Sun, two nuclei of deuterium (1H2) combine together to form a heavy nucleus of helium and a large amount of energy. Nuclear fusion reaction can be represented as:
1H2 + 1H2 2He4 + Energy
The nuclear fission reaction is used to produce highly destructible hydrogen bomb. In hydrogen bomb nuclei of tritium (1H3) and deuterium (1H2) are combined together to form a heavy nucleus of helium (2H4). During this process, very large amount of energy is released which is responsible for its destructive nature.
Advantage of Nuclear Fusion over Nuclear Fission
The first advantage of nuclear fusion process over nuclear fission process is that during this process more energy is produced as compared to nuclear fission reaction. The second advantage is that unlike nuclear fission process, the products formed at the end of nuclear fusion process are not radioactive. Thus, there is no danger of radioactive pollution. That is why, it is said that energy produced by nuclear fusion process will create less pollution problems as compared to that of nuclear fission.
Disadvantage of Nuclear Fusion Process
The main disadvantage of a nuclear fusion reaction is that it cannot be controlled in the laboratory for the production of energy.
Test Your Understanding and Answer These Questions:
- What is nuclear fusion reaction?
- Give an example of nuclear fusion reaction.
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