Explain the process of nuclear fusion and compare its advantages and limitations in comparison to nuclear fission.
Nuclear fusion is the process in which two or more lighter nuclei combine to form a larger nucleus, along with the release of a large amount of energy. In other words, smaller atoms combine to form a large atom and energy. The most common example of nuclear fusion is the combination of two hydrogen isotopes—deuterium and tritium—to produce an atom of helium and energy. The same reaction powers our sun and provides us with sunlight.
In comparison, nuclear fission is the splitting of a larger atom into smaller atoms, combined with the release of energy. An example is the splitting of U-235 atom into Ba-141 and Kr-92 atoms, along with energy.
Nuclear fusion is yet to be successfully controlled and sustained for practical applications. In comparison, the fission process is commonly used in nuclear reactors around the world for energy generation. Nuclear fusion generates more energy per reaction basis, as compared to fission. Fusion is also a safer process, since the by-product is not radioactive, unlike the by-product of the fission process. Fusion has great potential for our future since the fuel is practically unlimited, unlike the fission process.
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