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For applications in proposed fusion energy reactors, such as ITER, pebbles consisting of lithium bearing ceramics including Li High-energy neutrons can also produce tritium from lithium-7 in an endothermic (a net heat consuming reaction) reaction, consuming 2.466 Me V.
This was discovered when the 1954 Castle Bravo nuclear test produced an unexpectedly high yield.
The release or recovery of tritium needs to be considered in the operation of nuclear reactors, especially in the reprocessing of nuclear fuels and in the storage of spent nuclear fuel.
The production of tritium is not a goal, but rather a side-effect.
Worldwide, the production of tritium from natural sources is 148,000 terabecquerels per year.
The global equilibrium inventory of tritium created by natural sources remains approximately constant at 2,590,000 terabecquerels.
The nucleus of tritium (sometimes called a triton) contains one proton and two neutrons, whereas the nucleus of protium (by far the most abundant hydrogen isotope) contains one proton and no neutrons.However, if the atoms have a high enough temperature and pressure (for example, in the core of the Sun), then their random motions can overcome such electrical repulsion (called the Coulomb force), and they can come close enough for the strong nuclear force to take effect, fusing them into heavier atoms.The tritium nucleus, containing one proton and two neutrons, has the same charge as the nucleus of ordinary hydrogen, and it experiences the same electrostatic repulsive force when brought close to another atomic nucleus.However, the neutrons in the tritium nucleus increase the attractive strong nuclear force when brought close enough to another atomic nucleus.As a result, tritium can more easily fuse with other light atoms, compared with the ability of ordinary hydrogen to do so.