Re: Fusion Power

From: Iain Strachan (
Date: Thu Jun 05 2003 - 16:41:20 EDT

  • Next message: Iain Strachan: "Re: Fusion Power"

    Hi, Lawrence,

    I worked for some time at the UKAEA (United Kingdon Atomic Energy Authority)
    Culham laboratory, which was the main UK centre for Fusion research, and
    host site to the large scale JET (Joint European Torus) experiment. Though
    JET did not address the issue of getting large amounts of Tritium, the
    proposals for the next torus (NET) did do studies on this.

    The basic idea is that fresh supplies of Tritium are bred from a blanket of
    Lithium 7 which would be contained in the walls of the reactor vessel. I
    can't remember the exact details but the idea is that a neutron + Lithium 7
    nucleus causes it to split into an alpha particle and a Tritium nucleus
    (plus, I suppose, another neutron). The neutrons come from the DT reaction
    as a byproduct.

    Lithium is of course a highly abundant element.

    I believe there are fearsome technology problems to crack to get a workable
    system; tritium containment, cooling and so forth.

    Hope that answers your question.


    ----- Original Message -----
    From: "Lawrence Johnston" <>
    To: <>
    Sent: Sunday, June 01, 2003 1:53 AM
    Subject: Fusion Power

    > Dear fellow ASA-ers:
    > In the June issue of Perspectives there is a nice article by Ian
    > Hutchinson, about his work on fusion power, in magnetic
    > confinement reactors.
    > This reminds me of a question that keeps coming back to me so I
    > hope there is someone on our List who can help me understand why
    > there is a hope that fusion power will someday be a practical
    > energy source.
    > Hutchinson talks about the D-T (Deuterium-Tritium)reaction as
    > being the fuel. I can see where there is a natural source of
    > Deuterium in heavy water. But where can you find an economical
    > source of Tritium? My understanding is that tritium is made in
    > fission reactors, so there is enough to do experiments with. But
    > where would one get commercially important amounts of Tritium?
    > I hope someone is lurking who has some knowledge of this field.
    > May God richly bless, Larry Johnston
    > =======================================================
    > Lawrence H. Johnston home: 917 E. 8th st.
    > professor of physics, emeritus Moscow, Id 83843
    > University of Idaho (208) 882-2765
    > Fellow of the American Physical Society
    > =========

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