Alternative nuclear plant could work

I agree with Mr Francis Cheng ("Nuclear energy comes with many risks"; last Thursday) and Mr Tan Peng Boon ("Nowhere to safely site a nuclear plant in Singapore"; last Friday) that operating nuclear plants here is a highly risky venture, with no room for error.

Those who run such plants would be hard put to ensure that human error does not occur, which was what happened at both Chernobyl and Three Mile Island.

So far, the discussions have been mainly about nuclear power plants based on nuclear fission rather than fusion, the technology of which is currently undergoing development in many countries, including France and Germany ("German physicists see landmark in quest for nuclear fusion energy"; ST Online, Dec 11, 2015).

The mechanism involves fusing two atoms, such as hydrogen atoms, to release energy. Doing sohas vast differences, implications and outcomes from the splitting of atoms.

If scientists are able to push nuclear fusion into active production towards the generation of electricity, it would be the most efficient way to release energy locked up in matter.

It would also have zero carbon emissions.

The most important advantage of plants run on nuclear fusion is that there is no danger of a meltdown.

We have abundant sources of hydrogen in our seas that would last us for a very long time.

Our professionals could partner the countries currently working on perfecting nuclear fusion technology, so as to expedite its development and find ways to render it more economical.

At present, there are many problems that have yet to be ironed out.

Nuclear fission, which is the conventional way, has been found to be too risky for Singapore.

But we have yet to explore fusion.

We must act soon if we are to hand in a good report card on our carbon emissions.

Lee Kay Yan (Miss)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 26, 2016, with the headline 'Alternative nuclear plant could work'. Print Edition | Subscribe