Renewable energy sources are useful for the harvesting energy under special circumstances. Because of the difficulty in collecting them and their unreliability, they are unsuitable as the basis of an energy system that can be used to replace fossil fuels. The burner reactor system has both a short life and a nearly intractable waste disposal problem. The breeder reactor system has an adequate life, but presents an even greater waste disposal problem than the burner reactors. In addition, breeder reactor systems have the added problem of wide availability of materials suitable for the manufacture of bombs. Adequate security would be a planet wide challenge

Of all the potential energy sources, the fusion reactor appears to have the most desirable set of characteristics for the future energy source. It does not use large quantities of natural resources useful to manufacture other products. The materials consumed in the production of energy, deuterium and tritium derived from lithium, are available in such large quantities that exhaustion of supplies is, from the viewpoint of humanity, impossible. It adds no harmful by-products to the environment. The byproduct, helium, is of value as an inert gas and for achieving very low temperatures.

A fusion reactor's impact on the environment will be limited to the site it occupies, and the waste heat left over when the reactor heat is used to generate electricity. The only significant radioactive waste disposal problems occur when the reactor has worn out and must be dismantled. In the decommissioning of fusion reactors, the internal parts will be radioactive from years of exposure to the neutrons released by the fusion reaction. The total amount of waste remaining will depend critically on the materials used in the fabrication of the reactor. With selection of the proper elements the radioactive waste disposal problem will be in the range of 10,000 to 1,000,000 times smaller than that involved in the dismantling of a fission reactor and its waste.

A fusion reactor will be struggling at all times to keep running so that no action or combination of actions by natural processes, such as earth quakes, can cause the reactor to blow up or melt down. If someone tinkers with it to create a problem the worst that can be done is to turn it off, make it inoperable, and release a small amount of tritium.

Fusion reactors will produce energy on smooth constant basis. As with all other future energy sources, it will be necessary to provide a means of storing fusion energy. Storage is necessary for the reactors to match the daily and longer cyclic variations in energy use. It will also be necessary to convert fusion energy to a form that can be used in transportation. The later chapters show how one manufactured fuel can serve both purposes, storage of energy to follow the changing use and to supply transportation.

The fusion reaction system appears to have the qualities we are seeking in a power source for the future. There is no shortage of the input materials, deuterium and lithium, and the power system will use them in only small quantities. As a result, an energy system based on their use will have a long life, potentially thousands of years. No by-product, such as carbon dioxide, will be placed in the environment by the fusion reactors. The radioactive waste problem from fusion reactors will be ten thousand to a million times less severe than that associated with a breeder reactor system. These factors lead to the recognition of the fusion reaction as the best possible candidate for the base load energy source to replace fossil fuels.

No power producing fusion reactors have been built. A number of research reactors have been constructed and their operation has provided the data for the construction of the prototype power reactor for the future. Options, problems and the promise for fusion reactors will be discussed in more detail in Chapter 3.


Guide to Alternative Fuels

Guide to Alternative Fuels

Your Alternative Fuel Solution for Saving Money, Reducing Oil Dependency, and Helping the Planet. Ethanol is an alternative to gasoline. The use of ethanol has been demonstrated to reduce greenhouse emissions slightly as compared to gasoline. Through this ebook, you are going to learn what you will need to know why choosing an alternative fuel may benefit you and your future.

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