But before we get into the specifics of what happened, lets review what nuclear fusion is and how it works. Fusion is when two smaller atoms fuse together to make a larger atom. The most common form is hydrogen fusion, where two hydrogen atoms combine to form a helium atom, releasing massive amounts of energy in the process. This is what occurs in our Sun and in most stars. The benefit of fusion compared to its nuclear cousin, fission, is that it does not create any radioactive waste products. The downside is that it is much more difficult to create and contain. Hydrogen fusion itself can happen in several different ways, depending on the various isotopes involved. 99.98% of hydrogen has a nucleus with only a single proton (1H). Deuterium (2H) is a stable isotope that contains one proton and one neutron in its nucleus and tritium (3H) is an unstable isotope that contains one proton and two neutrons. The process that fuels our sun combines deuterium and tritium to make helium.
Check out part two where we talk about what happened after the press conference, and why cold fusion is considered pseudoscience today.
1) True or false: Palladium is able to absorb up to 800 times its own volume of hydrogen.
2) _________ is a stable isotope of hydrogen
a) protium b) deuterium c) tritium d) helium
3) True or false: Hydrogen fusion does not create radioactive waste.
4) Water that contains deuterium instead of hydrogen is called _____________.
5) The unstable isotope of hydrogen that combines with deuterium to power our sun is called ____________.