# Why can't we use fusion to make ourselves rich?

As we know on fusing two hydrogen atoms we can convert it to helium and by breaking them we get two $\ce{H}$ atoms. So why can't we convert mercury to gold by removing 1 proton per atom?

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The quick answer is that (a) We can't do this in bulk yet, only to a few atoms, and (b) it's very, very expensive to do this. Hopefully someone else can expand on it. –  ManishEarth Feb 22 at 17:49
@Manishearth - For nuclear transmutation in the most generic sense (be it fusion, fission, spallation, etc.) that's not really true - Tc-99m, Am-241 and Pu-239 all spring to mind as valuable materials which are synthesised economically in macroscopic quantities. –  Richard Terrett Feb 25 at 3:33
@RichardTerrett: True... but not gold, iirc. –  ManishEarth Feb 25 at 5:13

While it is possible to synthesize gold from mercury-196 (exists as 0.15% of natural mercury) the resultant gold will be radioactive and will not be gold for long!

There is actually the spallation neutron source which creates gold from liquid mercury.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Synthesis_of_precious_metals#Gold

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Why can't we use fusion to make ourselves rich?

Because at the current stage of technological progress making gold from other elements by fusion in large quantities is so costly (energy-wise and therefore money-wise), that it is just extraordinarily unprofitable to do that.

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