Environmental Engineering Reference
In-Depth Information
All six types of fourth-generation reactors being developed
today would operate at higher temperatures than current
reactors. Some of the new reactors could provide heat for the
production of hydrogen for fuel cells . Fuel cells are devices
that make electricity by combining hydrogen with oxygen
from the air. Many experts say that fuel cells could be a good
power source for a wide range of things, from cars, boats, and
spaceships to homes and larger buildings. Fuel cells are clean,
their chief waste product is water, and their fuel—hydrogen—is
plentiful. However, it takes a great deal of energy to obtain
hydrogen from, say, water. Perhaps the new nuclear reactors
will be able to supply energy cheaply enough to help make fuel
cells practical.
Fusion Power
Splitting atoms—nuclear ission—is one way to get at the
energy packed inside the atoms. Another way is to slam two
atoms together. If
their nuclei combine
to form a single
larger nucleus,
energy is released.
This process, called
fusion , is why the
In some experiments going
on with nuclear fusion, laser
beams are aimed at pellets of
hydrogen fuel.
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