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Fusion Enzyme?

Could Tunneling features of enzymes be applied to fusion?
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It was recently reported that enzymes assist chemical reactions by helping electron bonds "tunnel" through the barriers to the reaction.

I then read about ITER, and in doing some reading saw that fusion can happen as atoms tunnel through the charge barriers.. SO

would it be possible to use some intermediary chemical to provide tunneling like an enzyme? Would that be what cold fusion was supposed to be? It was supposed to surmount the fusion barrier by providing a tunnel.

Just a thought.

bigattichouse, Nov 21 2006

Muon-catalyzed fusion http://en.wikipedia...on-catalyzed_fusion
[vaccumac, Nov 22 2006]

ITER http://www.iter.org/
I was stunned when I learned fusion power had become possible. [jmvw, Nov 23 2006]


       We're talking orders of magnitude here. Enzymes might be able to assist catalysing chemical reactions that take place in the outermost shell of electrons. Fusion requires getting two positively charged nuclei *very* close together in order for the weak nuclear (go on, correct me, I only *think* it's the weak nuclear force, can't remember that well) force to take over and cause fusion. That's why you need immense pressures and/or rediculous temperatures. The activation energy is immense to bring the nuclei into close enough proximity. I can't imagine any chemical reaction being able to supply enough impetus.   

       I'm really not a cold fusion beleiver, I think the physics is all wrong. Then again I'm happy to leave the nuclear physics to the nuclear physicists.
Custardguts, Nov 21 2006

       I think that enzymes are organic compounds that act as catalysts in very strict circumstances (pressure, temperature).   

       What you are really after is a catalyst compound for the specific conditions of the cold fusion...
which I know *nothing* about - so I'll get my coat...
Jinbish, Nov 22 2006

       It's a good idea! However as has already been said chemical reaction just don't have enough energy to overcome the coulomb barrier.   

       However something similar was theoretically investigated. It involved the injection of muons (heavy electrons) into the plasma. When bound in an atom these exist closer to the nucleus than electrons. And allows other nuclei to more easily approach, thus aiding fusion.   

       See Link
vaccumac, Nov 22 2006

       Crossfertilization of ideas is a source of innovation. I do not know enough about fusion to comment on the soundness of the idea, but it seems like a reasonable concept to explore.
bungston, Nov 23 2006

       I really like this idea. Think, you can make fusion at home like you ferment bread. Get a powder, put into the shaker and bake it. Nice fusion cake.   

       I don't know about the feasibility of this fantastic idea, however. But I can make some QM comments: 1. Ignoring the electrons, the proton pool is like a Harmonic Oscillator, except it is reverse (this anology is more classical thinking though). In the Harmonic Oscillator example of QM, the particles 'tunnel' through the barrier (coulomb barrier or other potential). 2. If you could put the proton in some certain state, you can increase the chances of QM tunneling. What this state is could be determined from the solutions to the HO. 3. I will give you a hint on what the HO solutions are like: #(x, n) = $*1 / (sqrt(2^n*n!)) * H(&,n) * e^(-&^2/2) Of course, nothing is percievable from this writing, but you get the idea 'what a pain in the butt' it is. 4. The enzyme (a.k.a. organic catalyst) should be responsible for putting the protons in this kind of state. The protons btw are nothing but acid.
xkuntay, Jan 09 2009

       An enzyme is a specific type of catalyst, a compound (usually organic) that helps some sort of organic chemical reaction to occur. Since an enzyme is typically a complex molecule with a complex shape, it can use part of its shape to hold onto Organic Molecule A in a certain place, and another part of its shape to hold onto Organic Molecule B in a certain place. Both A and B of course have their own complex shapes, and it is quite possible that they can react with each other only when a particular spot on A encounters a particular spot on B.   

       Well, when A and B are being held by the enzyme, they find themselves in a position where interacting with each other becomes fairly easy (compared to the two molecules randomly colliding, with their reaction-sites hitting nowhere near each other). Sure, electron-tunneling may be part of the situation (all molecules interact with each other through their electrons), but the main part is simply that the reaction sites of A and B happen to end up near each other, when the catalyst latches onto them.   

       There are other types of catalyst (platinum metal is used in the "catalytic converters" of automobiles).   

       A nuclear catalyst basically has to help the Strong Nuclear Force come into play. The main problem here is that this is a very short-range force; the nuclei of two distinct atoms normally do not interact because they are simply much too far apart. We can now imagine two ways to help out the Strong Force. First, we would want to somehow increase its range, but there is no known way to do such a thing. Second, we could somehow encourage certain particles, the ones that would interact via the Strong Force if only they could get close enough together --we would them to get close enough together.   

       Muon-catalyzed fusion does that last thing. The electron-catalyzed fusion described in a recently published hypothesis also would do that last thing, if valid. They can do this by getting in-between two protons, and thus shielding those particles from their mutual repulsion. Since any ordinary enzyme or catalyst is at least a whole atom; trying to use it to enhance fusion is like shoving a hydrogen atom (one of the smallest atoms) directly between two protons and saying, "Here, I'm blocking your repulsion, so fuse!" --Except the two protons are MUCH too far apart to be able to do that, when a whole atom is between them!
Vernon, Jan 10 2009


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