Fusion power: the transition from fundamental science to fusion reactor engineering Page: 4 of 40
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cognizing the similarity between exothermic nuclear reactions, i.e.
nuclear fusion, and exothermic chemical reactions, for example the
chemical reaction between hydrogen and oxygen. In either case the
reaction can become energetically self sustaining, that is result in
net energy, only if the energy released by the reactions exceeds the
energy required to initiate and maintain the reaction: not all fires
laid in a fireplace will light. In our example of the fusion energy
released in the bombardment of target by beam, most of the beam part-
icles dissipated their energy uselessly as heat, missing their nuclear
targets; only a miniscule fraction actually hit the mark and reacted.
Net fusion power was not achieved, by a wide margin.
The thoughtful answer to why fusion.power is still a hope
rather than a reality gets at the heart of our critical question for
today: when can mankind hope to turn to nuclear fusion to help solve
his energy problems - and what kind of a solution will fusion represent?
To put my discussion of fusion in perspective relative to the
research effort now being devoted to it the following statistics may be
helpful: Fusion is by now a substantial, if not a major international
research effort. About 1950, the first serious examinations of controlled
fusion and its research problems were launched, essentially simultaneously
and under classification wraps in the United States, the United Kingdom,
and the Soviet Union.
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Post, R.F. Fusion power: the transition from fundamental science to fusion reactor engineering, article, July 25, 1975; Livermore, California. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc868596/m1/4/: accessed November 16, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.