Sunday , March 7 2021

According to Hawking, the most promising technology for mankind

An hour of individual sunlight has enough power to deliver earth energy throughout the year. Why is the sunlight so powerful? Because it is generated by a reaction called nuclear fusion.

This process, which has the potential to create eternal energy, is regarded as the sacred grain of the energy sector, and many of the world's brightest minds seek to develop it.

BBC's interview with British physicist Stephen Hawking, who died last March, said the technology that enables nuclear fusion is the most promising mankind.

"I would like to see the development of fusion energy"he answered and listened to the idea that could change our society most.

"The nuclear fusion would be a source of practical energy that would give us inexhaustible amounts of energy without polluting or global warming," he said.

Unlike conventional nuclear energy that is generated by separating the atoms – a known process of fission – this new energy source is created by merging – or combining – the atoms.

More concretely by combining hydrogen to produce helium, a reaction that releases huge amounts of energy, such as the Sun.

The idea is basically to create "microcells" on Earth.

Competition to reach a sacred boulder

Today is more than 25 private companies many of whom are funded by some of the world's most famous entrepreneurs such as Bill Gates (Microsoft), Jeff Bezos (Amazon) and Peter Thiel (PayPal).

The first private project was Tri-Alpha Energy (or TAE Technologies), located in California, USA, which has existed for two decades.

One of the most famous investors was Microsoft Founder Paul Allen, who died last October.

The focus is on Commonwealth Fusion Systems, which has been launched by six prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) professors.

Although it was created only one year earlier, it is considered one of the most ambitious projects as it aims to create a reactor prototype for 2025.

Gates and Bezos are two companies that fund this business together with other well-known entrepreneurs such as Richard Branson and Michael Bloomberg.

also some oil companies are beginning to invest in the future without fossil fuels. According to Bloomberg's agency, Eni SpA, an Italian company, led the Group, which invested US $ 50 million in the Commonwealth Fusion System last March.

International efforts

But some experts believe that the most likely project is not in the private sector.

It's a call International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER, in English), built in Cadarache in southern France, with a budget of USD 23 000 million.

35 countries cooperate in this scientific experiment, which began over three decades ago.

The people in charge of ITER are ready to produce a large-scale reactor by 2050.

Several countries also develop their own initiatives. Last April, the BBC was able to use facilities in Anhui Province, China, where scientists from that country they claim to be more sophisticated than their peers The United States, the European Union (EU), Japan, South Korea and Brazil.


However, all these projects have a similar problem, which is not curious about nuclear fusion.

The big challenge is how to generate more energy than the process used.

The fusion is based on the heating agent at very high temperatures that exceed hundreds of millions of degrees. In this state, the material is referred to as plasma.

Unlike in the sun, the planet has no prerequisites to keep the plasma warm. To achieve this, the plasma must be isolated from other materials. To this end some special cameras, called the ringthatwith tokamak.

tokamak they use powerful magnets create a magnetic field that holds the plasma insulated. The problem is that today, these cameras use more energy than they can produce.

The solution mentioned by companies such as Commonwealth Fusion Systems is to use better magnets, but the truth is that nobody has managed to overcome this great obstacle.

Some, like Tesla's creator, Elon Musk, believe that they should invest in creating better solar panels and batteries to capture Sun's energy, and not waste money trying to produce our stars.

However, IP Group Plc's investor told Bloomerg that although the duration of the fusion energy is longer than it was intended to develop, many innovations in this industry they have proved to be very lucrative.

"Research firms are patenting many of their creations, programs that simulate plasma burning to 150 million degrees Celsius to a new type of magnet that has medical applications," Bloomberg reports.

At the same time, we have to wait for Professor Hawking to want unlimited and clean energy.

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