Can hydrogen be fused without a nuclear explosion?

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Offline adamg

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I know that a hydrogen bomb works by useing a fission explosion to generate enough heat and pressure to fuse duterium and tritium into helium and generate massive amounts of energy.

But I am curious as to whether hydrogen could be fused by simply sorrounding a sphere of compressed hydrogen with shaped explosive charges, (these aim the explosion inward generating pressures of 100,000 psi and sometimes used to generate fission explosions).

Would compressing hydrogen to 100,000 psi cause it to fuse? What if the hydrogen had been ionized before hand? Then the electrons would not attempt to keep the hydrogen atoms apart and only the proton would stand in the way of fusion?

The reason I am asking is that I fear that if such fusion is possible then building an hydrogen bomb becomes incredibly easy.

Any tin pot dictator in a third world nation could afford to generate hydrogen, and ionizing it is probably not too difficult. Then all they would need would be some plastic explosives such as C1, (the instructions for making this can be found on the internet) and someone with the skills to shape the charges and sincronize the electronic trigger.

Whats more, many terrorist groups could do the same.

I have nightmares about a Ryder moving truck pulling into New York with a 30 megaton hydrogen fusion bomb in it. The authorities have radiation monitors around the city, but the bomb dosn't release any. Suddenly in the middle of the work day a 15 mile fireball engulfs the city and creates a blast wave that reaches Boston. Tens of millions are killed and because no fissonable material is used, there is no means of tracking the unique radiactive signature to the reactor it was generated in.

Several such attacks could occur in major cities around the world and no one would know who was causing them. Western civilization would be braught to its knees by madmen who only neeed a few million dollars to bring about the apocolypse.

Am I incorrect in my rational? Is the world safe from fussion bomb proliferation? Or have I just revealed to some terrorist how to destroy the world?

Your thoughts are greatly appreciated.

                                                       Adam A. Galas

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Offline Soul Surfer

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Re: Can hydrogen be fused without a nuclear explosion?
« Reply #1 on: 22/06/2006 09:36:53 »
The shaped chemical explosives are generally used to initiate and contain the fission reaction and I do not think that they are powerful enough to start a fusion reaction because you need a lot of gamma rays as well to get the thing going.

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« Last Edit: 22/06/2006 09:39:04 by Soul Surfer »
Learn, create, test and tell
evolution rules in all things
God says so!



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Re: Can hydrogen be fused without a nuclear explosion?
« Reply #2 on: 22/06/2006 12:28:28 »
Firstly, it depends upon how big a fission explosion you want.

I believe there have been experiments with creating very small fission explosions (with about the energy of a gallon of petrol mixed with air) by using laser confinement.

No doubt if you could focus a conventional explosive charge onto a small enough surface area, you could effectively magnify the force enough to cause fission to occur, but the likelihood is that such a small surface area could only contain a very small amount of  fusile material within, and the amount of energy you would extract from such an explosion would not be greater than the energy of the conventional charge used to trigger it.

I doubt that stripping the electrons off the hydrogen would make much difference, since the real problem is the mutual repulsion of the protons.  This is one reason I suspect why deuterium (and tritium) is preferred to natural hydrogen, since the nucleus then has one proton and one neutron, so the mass to charge ration is reduced.  Other fusile materials have also been experimented with, such as lithium/hydrogen and boron-11/hydrogen mixes.

Whether if might be possible to create a ring of very small fission reactions that themselves focus their energy to trigger a larger fission reaction is open to question, but such a device would be extraordinarily complicated, and certainly far to big to transport as a weapon.