A group of 14 year 10 students were chosen by Science teachers to represent the school to attend a lecture on Nuclear Fusion. An expert physicist, Melanie Windridge, gave a talk on her knowledge of Nuclear Fusion.
What did you enjoy about the lecture?
I liked how she used experiments to explain what she was saying. The experiments also made us more intrigued and interested.”
What did you learn at the lecture?
We learned about plasma, nuclear fusion, and TOKAMAKs.”
Was it worth missing half a day of school to learn about fusion?
Yes, it was a good experience and it was fun to learn about a future energy source.”
--Megan Craig, 10 MCH
What was the most interesting part of the lecture?
Learning about things that I didn’t know before.”
Do you now understand how nuclear fusion works?
Yes, because Melanie Windridge explained it quite well and I am able to understand it.”
Do you think you will be able to explain fusion to another student?
Yes, I would be able to tell the main points to other students in a simplified way to make it easier to understand.”
--Amy Cartwright, 10 JNM
Do you think that nuclear fusion will ever be the solution to our energy problems? If yes, why?
Yes, because of the progress they’ve made the technology will be a clean energy source.”
Would you want to find out more about it in the future? Why?
I feel like I know what I need to know for now.”
Would you use fusion energy in the future? Why?
I would use fusion energy because we won’t need fossil fuels and fusion creates no air pollution.”
--William Haw, 10MCG
Nuclear fusion occurs in TOKAMAKs when two types of helium - deuterium and tritium - are heated in to plasma. Plasma is a state of matter that is beyond gas, it needs to be heated up at a very high temperature to become plasma. Nuclear fusion is a nuclear reaction in which two or more atomic nuclei collide at a very high speed and join to form a new type of atomic nucleus. During this process, matter is not conserved because some of the mass of the fusing nuclei is converted to energy. The energy would then be used to power homes in the future.
Physicists are trying their best to get TOKAMAKs to work so that it would be the solution to our decreasing amount of fossil fuels. Nuclear fusion is proved not to contribute to air pollution and that it should be the safest way to get energy. However, TOKAMAKs produce radioactive waste. The radioactive is not as dangerous as the waste that is created by Nuclear power stations and the radioactive waste made by TOKAMAKs won’t last as long. Scientists and engineers have already thought of a way to solve this problem. They designed robots that would be controlled by them that are able to go inside the TOKAMAK and fix problems inside the TOKAMAK.
There are many TOKAMAKs in operation around the world, all contributing to international efforts to realise commercial fusion power. As well as JET, there are many other TOKAMAKs in Europe, which are part of the EFDA agreement. There are also TOKAMAKs operating in the USA and Japan, and smaller TOKAMAK experiments all over the world (in countries such as Brazil, India, Australia, China, Russia etc.)
For more information on Nuclear Fusion and Jet, go on: http://www.efda.org/