Plasma: The Power of the Sun

Plasma: The Power of the Sun

Length: 1994 words (5.7 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Excellent

Open Document

Essay Preview

More ↓
As we enter the 21st century the average human's life is dictated by the production and quantity of energy. This energy is produced in many different forms, from fossil fuel to hydro and solar power. Though this production of energy has sufficed up till now, a realization has occurred that the depletion of our current sources is imminent. As a result of this energy crisis, a race to find an alternative energy supply has been put forth. Through plasma fusion's nearly inexhaustible supply of fuel, its lack of greenhouse gases and the amazing spin-off technologies that have developed through plasma research, it is the answer to the current energy crises.

Fusion

To understand the technology behind plasma fusion, fusion itself must be understood. Fusion is the combining of two or more atoms of low mass, which are initially attracted to each other, to form one atom of greater mass. When two atoms combine to form a single atom, they have fused. This fusing releases a large amount of energy with respect to the amount of mass and energy that was initially put into the reaction. This combination releases energy in the form of light and heat.

Energy is created in a fusion reaction through the loss of atomic mass from the beginning to the end of the reaction. The mass of the two atoms is significantly more than the mass of the new atom, which they fused together to form. This loss of mass is subsequently converted into pure energy in the form of light and heat. The reason for this amazing discovery is that mass is just a concentrated form of energy. This understanding between the relationship of mass and energy was discovered by Albert Einstein and illustrated in his famous equation E=mc^2, where E is energy, m is mass, and c is the speed of light. Through this equation the amount of energy held within a mass can be determined. In a plasma fusion reaction between two hydrogen atoms the decrease in mass is about 4x10^-29 kg. This mass is then converted to energy, equaling 23.9 MeV. "To appreciate the magnitude of this result note that if 1g of [hydrogen] is converted to helium, the energy released… would be worth about $70,000" (Physics for scientist and Engineers 1276).


Fission

In a fission event an example of a reaction at an atomic level is an (A)tomic-bomb. The A-bomb harnesses the power of an atom through an uncontrolled reaction.

How to Cite this Page

MLA Citation:
"Plasma: The Power of the Sun." 123HelpMe.com. 23 Feb 2020
    <https://www.123helpme.com/view.asp?id=153315>.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Essay on The Energy Of The Sun

- 2. What two forces are balanced in gravitational equilibrium. What does it mean for the Sun to be in energy balance. The two forces I gravitational equilibrium is Gravity and thermal pressure. The Sun is not expanding or contracting because the energy from gravity pulling inward is equal to the gas pressure pushing outward. The energy is in equilibrium. The gravitational equilibrium is the balance when the inward pull of gravity & the outward push of internal gas pressure occurs. the energy balance in the sun refers to the balance between the rate at which fusion releases energy in the suns core and the rate when the the suns surface discharges this energy into space....   [tags: Star, Sun, Nuclear fusion, Energy]

Research Papers
1016 words (2.9 pages)

How the Sun Produces Light and Heat Essay

- When we look up into the sky, what do we see. During the day, we often will find the sun. The sun is much more than a ball of fire that we see in our daily lives. The sun gives earth life, from the condition of the season of the life that is produced. Overall, when we think of the sun we think of heat and light, but one might question; how does the sun produce the heat and light that is necessary for the earth to sustain life. The sun is also known as a star, just like the stars we see at night that illuminate the night sky....   [tags: Sun, Light, Heat, Energy, Fire, Power]

Research Papers
1481 words (4.2 pages)

Fusion: Harnessing the Power of the Sun Essay

- History It has been a well-accepted fact that the sun is a source of great power since the early part of this century. In 1929, scientists first theorized that the energy production in stars was created by fusion: nuclear reactions involving light elements reacting to form heavier elements. By the late thirties, H. Bethe had analyzed most of our sun's nuclear fusion cycle. Fusion in our sun is caused when deuterium and tritium, both Hydrogen isotopes, react (in the presence of large amounts of heat) to form Helium, energy, and an extra neutron....   [tags: physics fusion]

Research Papers
847 words (2.4 pages)

Nuclear Fusion a Feasible Source of Power Essay

- Is Nuclear Fusion a Feasible Source of Power. Abstract: Nuclear fusion may be an effective solution to the energy problem in today?s world. Fusion is environmentally friendly and has the potential to generate massive amounts of power. It is evident that the Sun?s power is fueled by nuclear fusion. Recent advancements such as ITER and NIF may bring us closer to being able to use fusion. We find that nuclear fusion is a long-term solution to a continuing problem. Introduction: Since the Industrial Age, energy from fossil fuels has become widespread....   [tags: Energy Power Global Warming]

Research Papers
2058 words (5.9 pages)

The Odyssey Of The Space Voyager Crew Essay

- My Science Fiction paper will be about the odyssey of the space voyager crew in their quest to do discover the truth about the fate of the RD2D Mars rover. Months earlier all communications with the RD2D rover were severed, but not until after RD2D caught a glimpse of it and sent it back to earth. Senior analyst, Tom Cruise, was the first to see the image. What he saw was so disturbing so horrid he didn’t know what to do with the information. He marched down to the office of Jack Lime and slammed the image on his desk....   [tags: Sun, Solar wind, Ionizing radiation, Earth]

Research Papers
1129 words (3.2 pages)

Power and Authority in "A Raisin in the Sun" Essays

- As I have written about over the last few months: A Raisin in the Sun is a play of many themes. Besides the central idea of the blacks trying to get out of the ghetto, it has many side plots. One of the most predominant of these side-plots is the role and effects of power and authority. In general, most people strive for power and control, whether they can handle it or not. Humans don’t like to be subservient to one another. The same idea applies in the play as well. Power and authority are always changing hands....   [tags: Raisin in the Sun, authority, ]

Research Papers
453 words (1.3 pages)

Nuclear Energy : A Controversial Topic For Many People Essay

- Nuclear energy has been a controversial topic for many people. Nuclear energy an alternative to fossil fuels and can help reduce carbon emissions. However, because of the cost and waster management, some researchers and politicians are hesitant to implement it. Another source of energy is thorium which some believe is better in many ways then nuclear energy. As a society we must take into account all ideas and options and make a decision that will be good for us in the present and the future. The article “The Nuclear Option” by John M....   [tags: Nuclear power, Energy development]

Research Papers
1727 words (4.9 pages)

The Future is Bright With Fusion Essay

- With the supply of fossil fuels declining at a predicted rate of about 3% per year since 1971, alternative sources of power are an important issue in the minds of scientists and world leaders alike. While everyone scrambles to find the most effective way to harness solar, wind, and water power, they forget about a form of producing energy that has been researched for 70 years and is only a hair's breadth from being usable (26). Fusion, or the fusing of two atoms, the same power that fuels the sun, could fuel the world’s homes and cars....   [tags: energy, fossil fuels, power]

Research Papers
1441 words (4.1 pages)

Fusion is The Future of Energy Essay

- Fusion is The Future of Energy Abstract: Fusion energy is the same energy that provides the power for that of our sun and other stars. An example of Fusion energy is when two separate hydrogen atoms combine to form one helium atom. In this process some of the mass of the hydrogen is converted into energy. This energy is very powerful and is considered inexhaustible by the scientific community. But the ability to control this energy seems to be out of our reach. The "heating, compressing, and confining of hydrogen plasmas is very challenging." (NIF, 2007) Even so, many facilities such as NIF still try to learn the secrets of Fusion....   [tags: Clean Power Alternative Energy Global Warming]

Research Papers
1772 words (5.1 pages)

The Sun Essay

- The Sun      The sun is the largest object in the solar system. It is a middle-sized star and there are many other stars out in the universe just like it. Even though it is only a middle-sized star it is large enough to hold over 1 million Earth’s inside if it were hollow. The temperature on the sun is far too much for any living thing to bear. On the surface it is 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit and the core is a stunning 27,000,000 degrees Fahrenheit. But don’t worry we are over 90,000 million miles away, the sun could never reach us, at least not yet....   [tags: Sun Solar Power Solar System Essays]

Research Papers
1656 words (4.7 pages)

Related Searches

This reaction is fission, which is the opposite of fusion. In an A-bomb, atoms are being separated, not combined, which also creates a massive release of energy but causes a large amount of nuclear waste when harnessed as a source of power. Nuclear waste is created when any type of matter comes in contact with an atom that has gone through a fission reaction. The water that cools the system and the room that occupies the reaction all become radioactive nuclear waste. The collision from the neutron in the fission reaction causes the atom to become unstable, resulting in a radioactive substance. From this instability the atoms become radioactive and create instabilities within any other atom that they come in contact with. Not only does fusion lack this step in its process, but through fusion studies, scientists have been able to learn new and efficient ways to clean up the process of fission.

Fusion Waste

In both types of fusion reactions, inertial and magnetic, the wastes that are produced are basically the same. Before the fusion process is started, deuterium (3^H) needs to be extracted from water molecules, resulting in hydrogen and oxygen by-products. Both elements are absorbed into the air with no negative effect. After deuterium is created the fusion process can begin. When the deuterium and tritium atoms fuse together they create a surge of energy. As a result of their fusing a helium atom is created and a neutron is released (as illustrated in Fig. 1). Helium is a completely harmless gas that can be released into the atmosphere, but the neutron is currently a serious problem for plasma scientist.
After the neutron is released, due to the fusion of the 2^H and 3^H atoms, it travels at a high velocity until it hits something. The neutron will sometimes hit the lithium in the chamber, which creates more deuterium, but most often it collides into the walls of the reactor. Since the neutron is a neutrally charged particle it can travel through the magnetic fields that surround the plasma. This is a serious problem for the chamber. From the collisions of the neutrons the walls of the reactor break down and become very brittle. One of the ways scientist are going about combating this problem is by developing a new type of metal that can withstand a neutron collision. This development is an example of the many spin-off technologies that have been created to keep fusion technology moving into the future.

For fusion to work there are three essential elements for two attractive particles to become fused: temperature, time, and density. Without the appropriate ratio among these three elements fusion can not occur. Examples of particles that have been attracted to each other, but lack the density needed to create fusion, are lightning, neon signs, the aurora, and space nebulas. A basic idea between the relationship of temperature and density can be understood through an example of a steaming pot of hot water. The density of the hot water in the pot is much greater than the steam coming from the water. As a result of this the steam carries less heat than the water, so a person could put their hand in the steam with much more confidence than in the water (Newman). In a fusion reaction the example of this process lies in the plasma.




Plasma

Plasma is considered the fourth state of matter, the first three being liquid, solid, and gas. For matter to reach this state it first has to be in a gas form, which is then stimulated in some way that causes the electrons to detach from the atom, leaving the atom ionized. "Without ionization it would be impossible to obtain plasma" (Kamenetskii 35). Ionization of a gas can form in three ways: heat, radiation, and electrical discharge. An example of ionization by electrical discharge is lightning. When the lightning strikes it separates the electrons from the air molecules which create plasma for a short period of time. Heat ionization is created in the sun. This occurs when a particle is heated to the point that it is close to the energy of the weakest bound electron. When the electron bond energy is equal to the heat of the atom the electron is no longer attracted to the atom and is pushed away, creating an ionized particle. Ionization in a fusion reaction is important because with the electrons detached from the atoms the plasma has an electrical charge, leaving them highly reactive to magnetic stimulation.

Inertial confinement operates on the idea of pushing two isotopes, deterium and tritium together using intense lasers, ion beams, or X-rays. This creates a significant amount of pressure on the atoms, compressing them to extremely high densities and temperatures, which allows the fusion to take place in a short amount of time because of the high density of the plasma (Fusion: Energy Source 1). In the first instances of the reaction the outer layers of the atom are blasted away, causing the atom's electrons to be separated from the nucleus and the atom to become plasma. "The resulting shock waves compress the fuel [atom] into high-density plasma. The compressed [atom] produces fusion energy until [it] disassembles, in about a billionth of a second" (Fusion Energy Science 5).During this process the atoms reach densities higher than the density at the center of the sun, and ignite at a temperature of more that 100,000,000 degrees centigrade! Though "inertial-confinement fusion has made impressive strides in recent years, the technological problems of delivering huge energies symmetrically to the target in a short time remain formidable" (Wolfson et al. 1216). As a result of this, many physicists believe the key to creating a workable fusion chamber on earth is through magnetic confinement.

Plasma fusion technological spin-offs are creating breakthroughs throughout our society. Plasma fusion research has spread into areas ranging from "cold" pasteurization of foods, new medical techniques, environmental cleanup, switch and welding technology, and plasma-based space and propulsion systems. These highly specialized fields have little in common with each other, but all benefit greatly from plasma research. In medicine the study of magnetically confined plasma has yielded MRI scanners, which have the ability to view and locate tumors and abnormalities that would have once required exploratory surgery. Environmentally, our world has reaped the rewards of plasma research. This has been achieved through new techniques of nuclear waste clean-up resulting from the advancement in Laser technologies gained through inertial confinement chambers. Also, new plasma research has developed ways to eliminate CO2 exhaust from cars.

The croyblaster unite is the nuclear waste clean-up technology that has resulted from plasma research. This technology is equivalent to sand blasting nuclear radiation from material. A basic idea on how this works is the cryoblaster directs pellets of frozen carbon dioxide at high velocities effectively cleaning the material without leaving any residue. This technology was developed from techniques that were used in developing inertial confinement chambers.

Fusion can be created in three different ways: gravitational confinement, magnetic confinement, and inertial confinement. Gravitational confinement is witnessed every day when we look up at the sun. Since the sun is so massive the gravity at its core is powerful enough to squeeze hydrogen atoms together to form helium atoms. Though this is an efficient method for stars, earths' gravity is insufficient to create fusion. The other two possibilities, magnetic and inertial confinements, are possible, and research is being focused in those areas.

In magnetic confinements a tokamak chamber has yielded the best results. A tokamak is "a toroidal device comprising a hollow doughnut-shaped vessel through which magnetic fields twists [;] it is the most common magnetic confinement device understudy" (Fusion: Energy Source 1). The basic idea behind the tokamak is to confine the plasma in a chamber and extract thermal energy through the fusion reaction. Since plasma is electrically charged it can essentially float through the chamber without touching the walls. This enables the plasma reaction to reach "temperatures in excess of 100,000,000 degrees centigrade (the temperature of the sun) [while staying] confined inside a metal chamber whose surface is nearer room temperature" (Glanz 7).

While the temperature of the plasma is very high its density is very low; the density in the chamber is "lower than atmospheric density"(1216 Physics). With the density being so low the plasma acts like the steam in the pot of hot water. The reason the plasma can have such a low density and still create fusion is because of the long confinement times in side the chamber, sometimes reaching up to several seconds in some devices.

Work Cited

Frank-Kamenetskii, D. A. Plasma: The Fourth State of Matter. Trans. Joesph Norwood, Jr. New York: Plenum Press, 1972.

"Fusion: Physics of a Fundamental Energy Source." 1996.

Glanz, James. "The Pervasive Plasma State." Austin, Texas: University of Texas at Austin.

Professor David Newman. Personal interview. 10 Oct. 2002.

Serway, Paymond A., Robert J. Beichner and John W. Jewett, Jr. Physics for Scientist and Engineers. 5th ed. Toronto: Nelson Thomson Learning, 2000.

Surko, Clifford, et al. Plasma Science: From Fundamental Research to Technological Applications. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press. 1995.

United States Department of Energy. Offices of Fusion Energy Sciences. Fusion Energy Science. Washington D.C.: National Laboratory, Jan. 2001

U. S. Department of Energy. Offices of Fusion Energy Sciencses. "The Surprising Benefits of Creating A Star." Oct. 2001. Oct 2001 .

Wolfson, Richard and Jay M. Pasachoff. Physics with Modern Physics for Scientists and Engineers. 3rd ed. New York: Addison-Wesley, 1999.

Return to 123HelpMe.com