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Physics/Fusion power output


I've read that fusion reactions produce around 3 to 4 the energy that fission produces. A typical fission reactor produces about 1 gigawatts of energy so does that mean that a fusion reactor would produce 3-4 gigawatts of energy? I know that ITER produces 500 megawatts but ITER is just a prototype and the prototype fission reactors produced only a small fraction of energy that the reactors nowadays produce. So how many times more power will fusion probably produce in your opinion?

No, it does not mean that! What is true is that a fusion reactor should be able to produce 3-4 times as much energy as a fission reactor for a given amount of fuel. This means that if a fission reactor produces U energy per gram of fuel, a fusion reactor should be able to produce 4U of energy from the same mass of fuel. In general it would probably not be advantageous to produce 4 times the total energy output but would, rather, be advantageous to make a smaller reactor producing the same amount of energy output. The new thought in the nuclear industry is to produce smaller self contained units manufactured in a well controlled factory setting rather building each reactor as a unique product.


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James J. Kovalcin


I am teaching or have taught AP physics B and C [calculus based mechanics & electricity and magnetism] as well as Lab Physics for college bound students. I have a BS in Physics from the University of Pittsburgh and a Master of Arts in Teaching from same. I have been teaching physics for 34 years. I am constantly updating my skills and have a particular interest in modern physics topics.

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