What is hydrogen fusion?

This process is sometimes called "hydrogen burning".

My question is that how is hydrogen burning fundamentally unlike the burning of a log in a fireplace ?

3 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    Fusing hydrogen - like what happens at our sun's core, and in the core of thermonuclear bombs, means "joining" - as in, 4 hydrogen atoms combine to form 1 helium atom. Go to your periodic table, and look at the atomic weight of Hydrogen & Helium - you'll see that Helium weighs just a little bit less than 4 hydrogen atoms. Why? The extra weight was converted to energy & released - that's why our sun shines.

    When you throw a log in the fireplace, you're *chemically* burning it. You're taking the components of the log, and combining it chemically with oxygen.

    In short, nuclear fusion is actually creating new elements from existing elements; oxidation (burning) is simply combining existing atoms to other atoms.

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  • 1 decade ago

    Fusion (and fission for that matter) is not "burning" anything. Burning is a chemical reaction and is what is happening with a burning log.

    In fusion you take two atoms (generally hydrogen) and force them together. Doing this requires intense pressure to achieve which can be found in the core of a star. When the atoms combine they from the next heaviest element on the Periodic Charts, helium. However, one atom of helium is lighter than four atoms of hydrogen. The spare mass is released as energy (which can be calculated using the famous equation E=MC^2).

    Fusion releases energy in this manner till you get to iron. Fusing iron requires more energy than it releases. As a star gets older and consumes its hydrogen it starts fusing helium and so on till it gets to iron. Once there it cannot sustain a nuclear reaction any longer and the star dies.

    Fission is the reverse of fusion. It is splitting atoms rather than combining them. As noted iron is where the difference between the two occurs. The bigger the atom the more energy it releases so we use heavy elements such as uranium to split in fission reactors or nuclear weapons.

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  • Lan R
    Lv 4
    1 decade ago

    In physics and nuclear chemistry, nuclear fusion is the process by which multiple atomic particles join together to form a heavier nucleus. It is accompanied by the release or absorption of energy

    And your other question I'm not so sure...Hydrogen would definitely burn a lot cleaner than wood or other fossil fuels

    And hydrogen burning IS NOT the same as hydrogen fusion which powers our H-bombs

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