Where Do The Hydrogen Nuclei Go?
by Nicholas Hammett
(Burleson, Texas, United States)
Post fusion nuclear particle energy harvesting
A question posed: What will happen to the hydrogen particles after shooting them at high speed?
With nuclear fusion energy production you will get hydrogen nuclei, effectively protons, being produced after the fusion reaction. This is more so in the standard fuels.
In aneutronic fusion, particularly with the most favoured one of boron colliding with hydrogen, you will get alpha particles. Essentially helium nuclei.
As they get ejected at speed from the initial reaction, the aim is to harvest the released energy. Often this is through a reversed particle accelerator chamber or coil.
As the positively charged particles at that end, and the negatively charged electrons at the other end pass through the coils, their kinetic energy is affected by the interaction with the coil interacting with the resultant magnetic fields from the charged streams.
As energy is absorbed the particles will slow down.
In doing so their positive charges will attract free electrons, similarly slowed at the other end as well as nearby.
Hydrogen and helium molecules result. Being light gases they will tend to be readily evacuated from the chambers.
Some of these nuclear particles will interact with other molecules about the chamber resulting usually in compounds from them.
With nuclear fusion releasing so much energy per interaction, the actual volume of resultant helium and neon gases is very small.
With their volatility they will rapidly disperse.
There is the chance to harvest the stable elements as suggested by the Heavy Ion Fusion project. Both hydrogen and helium have multiple uses outside of nuclear fusion.
Such byproducts would create a useful secondary marketable product.
Unlike nuclear fission energy production, with none of these molecules having any radioactive component downline use, or if needed disposal, has any community concerns. In fact they are very useful.
That has always been the appeal of fusion energy.
Hydrogen nuclei and helium ones are not a waste product. They will be economically useful.
Once we get there....