US DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY US DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Aerial view of the Savannah River tritium production facility, USA. Tritium is a heavy isotope of hydrogen, containing one proton and two neutrons in its nucleus. It is an important fuel for nuclear fusion reactions, both for fusion power research and in 'hydrogen' atomic bombs. The tritium is made by bombarding a lithium/aluminum target with radiation. Some of the lithium loses a proton from its nucleus, forming tritium. The target is then heated in a vacuum furnace, the tritium being removed as a gas and purified. Tritium is radioactive, with a half-life of 12.3 years.
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