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Nuclear Power and the Promise of Fusion

Nuclear power can sound a bit scary. We hear the word “nuclear”, and think of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the Cold War and Mutually Assured Destruction.  

Current nuclear plants use a process called fission, meaning the splitting of atoms. Whilst this process doesn’t give off any greenhouse gases (yay!), it does leave behind radioactive waste that’s harmful to people in high doses, and must be sealed away for thousands of years (boo!).  

But fission isn’t the only source of nuclear power…  

Another is fusion: forcing lighter atoms together to make heavier ones. This is what powers our sun, and scientists are getting close to recreating it on earth.  Fusion doesn’t leave radioactive waste, and the atoms required (deuterium and tritium) are surprisingly accessible.  

The snag? We could be waiting a while…

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