Originally Posted by cutthemdown
I'm looking foward to Helium-3 being used in fusion for electricity. I don't know much about it but it sounds remarkable.
Helium-3 undergoes the following aneutronic fusion reaction
, among others, although this is the one most promising for power generation:
- D + 3He → 4He (3.7 MeV) + p (14.7 MeV)
The appeal of helium-3 fusion stems from the nature of its reaction products. Most proposed fusion processes for power generation produce energetic neutrons which render reactor components radioactive with their bombardment, and power generation must occur through thermal means. In contrast, helium-3 itself is non-radioactive. The lone high-energy proton produced can be contained using electric and magnetic fields, which results in direct electricity generation.
However, since both reactants need to be mixed together to fuse, side reactions (D + D and 3
He + 3
He) will occur, the first of which is not aneutronic. Therefore in practice this reaction is unlikely to ever be completely 'clean'. Also, the temperatures required for D + 3
He fusion are much higher than those of conventional D + T
fusion, so it is unlikely that this type of fusion will be achieved before the problems with conventional fusion are worked out.
If you're interested in fusion, check out a recent talk by Dr. Robert Bussard (THE Dr. Bussard) called "should google go nuclear?" It is referred to in this link. He claims his company has achieved net output fusion with a simple (by fusion standards) device and that 200 million gets a prototype fusion plant running.
This guy is a former vice-chair of the Atomic Energy Commission and the inventor of the Bussard Ram Jet--a serious physicist.
Here's another link that discusses it: