Fusion is the fundamental energy source of the universe. It is the process that powers the sun and the stars. In a fusion reaction, energy is released when the nuclei of two light atoms (such as hydrogen) fuse together to form a heavier one. Tapping into this energy source offers the prospect of a long-term, safe, environmentally friendly option to meet the energy needs of a growing world population.
Fusion is a particularly attractive energy solution as it uses a fuel that is abundant or can be manufactured easily. The fuels used in fusion are isotopes of the light element hydrogen. By fusing these isotopes at very high temperatures it is possible to generate large amounts of energy. The hydrogen isotopes used are deuterium, which can be readily extracted from water (there is around 30g of deuterium in every cubic metre of water), and tritium, which can be generated from lithium, an abundant light metal.
Fusion is an environmentally friendly energy option offering the possibility of a sustainable, large-scale and long-term energy supply. Several factors make it particularly attractive for large-scale, base-load electricity production:
Almost limitless fuel supply. The basic fuels are distributed widely around the globe. Deuterium is abundant and can be extracted easily from sea water. Lithium, from which tritium can be produced, is a readily available light metal in the Earth's crust.