Is it possible to build a pure fusion and powerful nuclear bomb?

(because due to the harsh conditions of enriched uranium, I would guess most of today's world countries will want to build pure fusion bombs.) A pure fusion bomb is a nuclear bomb that does not need fission so does not need enriched uranium.

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    $\begingroup$ Due to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, most of today's world's countries go for not building these bombs of any kind. $\endgroup$ – Jim Jun 18 '13 at 16:28
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    $\begingroup$ Wikipedia answers this question. I also want to point out that it references a "possible" pure fusion bomb prototype. It weighs 3 tonnes and has a yield of 3 tonnes of TNT. I point this out because the image that comes to my mind is a 3 ton pile of TNT with the letters "TNT" hastily scratched out and "Fusion" written next to it. $\endgroup$ – Jim Jun 18 '13 at 17:00
  • $\begingroup$ Red Mercury is a bogeyman. $\endgroup$ – user22620 Dec 18 '14 at 5:38

Fusion happens between light nuclei. It cannot happen in room temperatures and pressures, it needs very high energies in order to strip the electrons from the nucleus and to overcome the electromagnetic repulsion of the positive charges . reaction rate

The fusion reaction rate increases rapidly with temperature until it maximizes and then gradually drops off. The DT rate peaks at a lower temperature (about 70 keV, or 800 million kelvin) and at a higher value than other reactions commonly considered for fusion energy.

Fusion experimentally, apart from the Hbomb, has been sustained at JET, an experimental facility, by confining a plasma at the high temperatures necessary, in a tokamak, a specially designed magnetic field. This design is extended into ITER which is a prototype fusion energy reactor, i.e, will give out more energy than spent in creating the magnetic field and the plasma. If you look at the links these are huge constructs not suitable for bombs.

A second direction in creating the plasma temperatures necessary for sustained fusion is with very strong lasers. If you look at the photo of the system needed to reach fusion energies again you will realize that it cannot become the central part of a bomb.

That is where present day technology is. Hopefully by the time nanotechnology catches up with fusion humanity will have matured enough to use fusion only for getting unlimited energy.

  • $\begingroup$ Pointedly just getting fusion going doesn't have catastrophic results contrary to another answer (now deleted). $\endgroup$ – dmckee Jun 18 '13 at 16:53
  • $\begingroup$ "Hopefully by the time nanotechnology catches up with fusion humanity will have matured enough to use fusion only for getting unlimited energy" Amen. $\endgroup$ – Eugene Seidel Jun 18 '13 at 17:10
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    $\begingroup$ @dmckee Right . It is the ignition, further confinement designs would be needed for rapid chain reaction. I am just pointing out that the non Abomb solutions for ignition are too large for a bomb. $\endgroup$ – anna v Jun 18 '13 at 17:38
  • $\begingroup$ There are more ideas out there; non-laser approaches to inertial fusion, e.g., en.wikipedia.org/wiki/General_Fusion; and non-tokamak approaches to magnetic fusion, e.g., alternative-energy-action-now.com/tri-alpha-energy.html. $\endgroup$ – Maxim Umansky Jun 18 '13 at 20:56
  • $\begingroup$ @MaximUmansky Well, I was not looking at ideas that have not proven that fusion can happen. I looked where it is demonstrated workable. Technology up to now. $\endgroup$ – anna v Jun 19 '13 at 5:22

Is it possible to build a pure fusion and powerful nuclear bomb

"Powerful" is a relative term. According to the pure fusion weapon Wiki article (helpfully linked by Jim in the comments), a PFB with current technology would weigh about as much as the equivalent TNT yield. I suppose that would not be considered relatively powerful.

As is, I think, well known, the majority of the yield from Tellar-Ulam thermonuclear weapons is from induced fission of a tamper by the flux of neutrons from the fusion reaction.

Indeed, so-called "boosted" fission weapons use a small fusion device to increase the neutron flux and thus, yield of the fission reaction.

So, with current technology, I would venture to say that the answer is no due to your "and powerful" clause.


protected by dmckee Jun 18 '13 at 17:19

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