Is Nuclear Energy Dangerous?
Usually, when people think of the dangers of nuclear energy, they are thinking about nuclear radiation, reactor meltdowns, or nuclear weapons. Most reactions are very dangerous but there are a few that are not.
Whether nuclear radiation is present or not, depends on the particular nuclear reaction under consideration. Several different factors contribute to the possible danger of a specific reaction: 1. The fuel (also called the reactants); 2. The reaction itself; 3. The waste (also called the products).
The most common fission reaction in a neutron fission power reactor happens when a neutron combines with a U-235 nucleus, causing it to split and release 3 more neutrons and some waste products. In this reaction, the U-235 fuel is radioactive, the neutrons released constitute very harmful radiation, and some of the waste is radioactive. Also, the U-235 and some of the waste can be made into nuclear weapons.
The focus of most fusion research to date has been on forcing the fusion of deuterium and tritium nuclei to make a helium nucleus and neutron. In this reaction, tritium fuel is radioactive, and (again) the neutrons released constitute very harmful radiation.
The polywell will force the fusion of Hydrogen and Boron nuclei to make helium nuclei. In this reaction neither the Hydrogen nor the Boron is radioactive. No nuclear radiation is released, and the products are Helium nuclei.
The disasters at Fukushima Daiichi in Japan, Three Mile Island in the U.S. and Chernnobyl in the Ukraine were examples of nuclear meltdowns. Meltdowns happen when a technical failure prevents either sufficient cooling or sufficient absorbtion of the neutrons causing the chain reaction in fission reactor. Even more neutrons yet must be produced during the explosion of a nuclear weapon; but in this case -during the explosion- the nuclear fission fuel is compressed by a conventional chemical explosive which holds the fuel tightly together, and causes the burst of neutrons.
There are no neutrons involved in the fusion of Hydrogen and Boron in a Polywell reactor; and no chain reaction is possible in the Polywell; and there is no long-term cooling problem because the Polywell is mostly the empty shell of a vacuum containment. Thus no meltdown or nuclear explosion is possible in the Polywell. (If there is a technical failure during Polywell operation, it will just stop working. At worst, the magrid's coils will burn out: expensive, but certainly not a catastrophe.)