Nuclear Fusion Reaction - The Reason Behind Solar Energy

The Nuclear Fusion Reaction is the basis on which sun releases light and heat. We receive a combination of this heat & light in the form of solar energy which we use for our benefit.

My friend you must have really wondered about what happens up there? That the sun shines so brightly.

Do you know that fusion of light nuclei (hydrogen & its types) was first observed by Mark Oliphant in 1932

The Reaction

In this reaction multiple atomic nuclei come together and form a single heavier nucleus having a higher atomic number. This process is also associated by either release or absorption of energy. In case of our sun a large amount of heat is released. For Nuclear Fusion to occur on a large scale the matter must have high density (Recall that there is Huge mass of Hydrogen on Sun)

Nuclear Fusion Reaction
Fusion Reaction

What happens exactly?

A Fusion Reaction typically happens at high temperatures.
In this reaction various isotopes of hydrogen are fused together to form a single nucleus of Helium and a neutron of high energy. This formation of Helium & the highly energetic neutron is accompanied by release of a large amount of energy.

As nuclei are positively charged they repel each other. Now higher the temperature, the nuclei more with higher speeds. When two nuclei of higher speeds collide they overcome their repulsive forces of each other’s positive charge and thus get fused. Energy is released during these collisions.

This reaction keeps taking place on the sun every moment and a large amount of helium, energetic neutrons and heat are being released as you read this.

Release of Energy

Energy released during Fusion is related to Albert Einstein’s Equation (E = mc2) and by the Law of Conservation of Energy. Now as you know during a fusion reaction Hydrogen is converted into Helium along with a highly energetic neutron.

This doesn’t mean some matter is lost during this nuclear reaction. According to the Law of Conservation of Energy, matter simply gets converted into heat energy released during the reaction. This energy radiated takes the form of electromagnetic waves and reaches the earth as Solar Energy.

This will surely help you understand solar energy in a better way!

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