A reaction in which two or more atomic nuclei combine to form one or more different atomic nuclei and subatomic particles (neutrons or protons).

  • If the fusion process produces atomic nuclei lighter than iron-56 or nickel-62 then the excess is emitted as energy: an exothermic process
  • If the fusion process involves atomic nuclei heaver than iron-56 or nickel-62 then the excess is used to bind the resulting nucleons together: an endothermic process

See page on nuclear binding energy for more details

Magnetic Confinement

Electrically charged particles (such as fuel ions) will follow magnetic field lines. The fusion fuel can therefore be trapped using a strong magnetic field.

Inertial Confinement

Apply a rapid pulse of energy using a driver to a large part of the surface of a pellet of fusion fuel, causing it to simultaneously “implode” and heat to very high pressure and temperature. If the fuel is dense enough and hot enough, the fusion reaction rate will be high enough to burn a significant fraction of the fuel before it has dissipated.

Various drivers exist like lasers, ions, electron beams, or Z-pinches