The Mystery of the Sun
A children’s story about the quest for fusion power. Two kids, Philip and Sophia, want to know what makes the sun shine – join them as they learn about all the different types of energy, especially nuclear fusion, which powers the sun.
Fusion, Power for Future Generations
This CD-ROM holds multimedia contents like animations, movies, pictures and text on the principles of fusion energy and fusion research in seven languages (English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Dutch, Hungarian).ZIP 258.53MB
Scientific & Technical Publications
The movie introduces a future fusion reactor, explaining basics of fusion.
Right-click the link to open the context-menu then left-click “Save Target as…” to download the movie in your language:
Fusion reaction in the Sun
The Sun is powered by the fusion of hydrogen into helium, which is quite a complex process, involving many intermediate states. Here is a simplified version of this fusion reaction, to contrast with the more efficient process (fusion of deuterium and tritium) that physicists use to generate fusion power on Earth.SWF 154.19KB
Repulsion and fusion of nuclei
Fusion power on Earth uses the fusion of deuterium and tritium, both positively charged. However, like charges repel each other and so fusion can only be achieved by speeding up the nuclei to extraordinarily high temperatures as shown in this animation. In fusion experiments and in future power plants the required temperature is around 100 million degrees Celsius – even at this temperature only one in ten thousand collisions results in fusion.SWF 163.04KB
Fusion reaction in a power plant
This animation combines reactions from the energy generation process and the breeding of tritium, one of the fusion fuels.
1) D + T => He + n + energy – deuterium fuses with tritium, producing a helium nucleus, which stays within the magnetically confined plasma because it is charged. A neutron is also produced, which escapes the magnetic field and enters the wall, depositing its energy as heat.
2) Li + n => T + He + energy – the neutron released by D-T fusion enters the blanket which contains lithium. As well heating the blanket, the neutron reacts with the lithium to generate tritium, with helium as a by-product, which produces more heat. The tritium can then be captured, purified and fed back into the tokamak as fusion fuel.
3) Heat => electricity – The heat deposited in the blanket is used to create steam, which turns a turbine, as in a conventional power plantSWF 1.06MB
Without the presence of a magnetic field, charged particles move randomly similar to the Brownian motion of gases or liquids. As soon as a magnetic field is switched on, nuclei and electrons of the plasma spiral around the magnetic field lines because they are charged, as shown in this animation. Movement and direction can be explained by the Lorentz force.
In a fusion experiment, a combination of coils create a donut shaped magnetic field which prevents the plasma particles from escaping. That is why this branch of fusion research is called magnetic confinement fusion.SWF 172.68KB
Fusion reaction on Earth
The fusion reaction that occurs in the Sun would not be efficient enough for a power plant on Earth. The fuel of choice for a power plant is deuterium and tritium. Because the two isotopes of hydrogen are bigger in diameter they are more likely to meet and fuse in a given volume.
Fusion reaction and breeding
This animation shows the creation of the fusion fuel tritium from lithium, and its subsequent fusion with deuterium.
1) Li + n => T + He + energy – tritium is generated by bombarding lithium with neutrons, in the process releasing energy. Helium is also produced as a by-product.
2) D + T => He + n + energy – deuterium fuses with tritium, producing a helium nucleus, and a neutron which can be used to bombard lithium to create more tritium.
The four states of matter
All of us are familiar with at least three states of matter: gas (steam), liquid (water) and solid (ice); however there is a fourth: plasma (flames)
The differences are due to forces between the molecules or their nuclei and electrons, as shown in this animation. It is not common knowledge that 99 per cent of our universe consists of the fourth state of matter: plasma. We might not be aware of the fact that we are surrounded by plasma: for example plasma screens, fluorescent lights, lightning or the aurora borealis.SWF 227.1KB
Hydrogen – Deuterium – Tritium
Deuterium and tritium are isotopes of hydrogen. This means that they differ from hydrogen only in the amount of neutrons in their nuclei. Deuterium has one extra neutron, and tritium has two.SWF 147.35KB