Compression of the spark plug results in a fission explosion that creates temperatures comparable to those of the Sun and a copious supply of neutrons for fusion of the surrounding, and now compressed, thermonuclear materials. Thus, the fission and fusion processes that take place in the secondary are generally much more efficient than those that take place in the primary. In an efficient, modern two-stage device—such as a long-range ballistic missile warhead—the primary is boosted in order to conserve on volume and weight.
Boosted primaries in modern thermonuclear weapons contain about 3 to 4 kg 6. The secondary typically contains a composite of fusion and fissile materials carefully tailored to maximize the yield-to-weight or yield-to-volume ratio of the warhead, although it is possible to construct secondaries from purely fissile or fusion materials. Historically, some very high-yield thermonuclear weapons had a third, or tertiary, stage.
In theory, the radiation from the tertiary can be contained and used to transfer energy to compress and ignite a fourth stage, and so on. There is no theoretical limit to the number of stages that might be used and, consequently, no theoretical limit to the size and yield of a thermonuclear weapon. However, there is a practical limit because of size and weight limitations imposed by the requirement that the weapon be deliverable.
Uranium and thorium and some other fissionable materials cannot maintain a self-sustaining fission explosion, but these isotopes can be made to fission by an externally maintained supply of fast neutrons from fission or fusion reactions. Thus, the yield of a nuclear weapon can be increased by surrounding the device with uranium, in the form of either natural or depleted uranium , or with thorium, in the form of natural thorium.
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This approach is particularly advantageous in a thermonuclear weapon in which uranium or thorium in the outer shell of the secondary capsule is used to absorb an abundance of fast neutrons from fusion reactions produced within the secondary. The explosive yields of some weapon designs have been further increased by the substitution of highly enriched uranium for uranium in the secondary.
However, to obtain tailored weapon effects or to meet certain weight or space constraints, different ratios of fission yield to fusion yield may be employed, ranging from nearly pure fission weapons to a weapon where a very high proportion of the yield is from fusion. Another tailored weapon is the enhanced radiation warhead, or neutron bomb , a low-yield on the order of one kiloton , two-stage thermonuclear device designed to intensify the production of lethal fast neutrons in order to maximize mortality rates while producing less damage to buildings.
The enhanced radiation is in the form of fast neutrons produced by the fusion of deuterium and tritium. The secondary contains little or no fissionable material, since this would increase the blast effect without significantly increasing the intensity of fast neutrons.
The United States produced enhanced-radiation warheads for antiballistic missiles, short-range ballistic missiles, and artillery shells. Thermonuclear warhead. Article Media.
Basic two-stage design
Info Print Print. Table Of Contents. Submit Feedback. Thank you for your feedback. Introduction Basic two-stage design Enhanced designs. Written By: Robert S.
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Norris Thomas B. Missiles are both cheaper to produce and more accurate when fired, although custom-made ordnance does enjoy the possibilities of near-unlimited range and either remote or autonomous homing.
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Warheads are used in some Pre-Built Ships to lay traps for unsuspecting players. Usually one of the ship's reverse thrusters is placed so that turning on the Inertial Dampeners will damage and detonate the Warhead. In some cases, this first detonation will set off a chain reaction. Wheels 1x1 Wheel , 3x3 Wheel , 5x5 Wheel. Lighting Interior Light , Spotlight. Explosive Cube. Sign In Don't have an account?
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