One hour of sunlight has enough power to supply the earth with energy for one year. Why is sunlight so powerful? Because it occurs in the reaction of nuclear fusion.
This process, with its potential to generate eternal energy, is considered the Holy Grail of the energy industry and some people with the brightest minds of the world are trying to develop it.
Stephen Hawking, the famous British physicist who died in March, said in an interview with the BBC in late 2016 that the technology that can cause fusion is the most promising for humankind.
"I want to see the development of fusion energy."He answered, and we talked about ideas that could change the most in our society.
"Fusion will be a practical energy source that can give an infinite amount of energy without causing or polluting global warming," he said.
Unlike traditional nuclear energy (a process known as cleavage), created by separating atoms, this new energy source is created by combining fusions, or atoms.
More specifically, it combines hydrogen to produce helium, which is a reaction that emits a tremendous amount of energy, as happens in the sun.
Essentially, the idea is to create "microsoles" on Earth.
Competition to the Holy Grail
Today is More than 25 private venture companies Some of the most well-known entrepreneurs on the planet, such as Bill Gates (Microsoft), Jeff Bezos (Amazon) and Peter Thiel (PayPal), are some of the financiers.
The first private project is Tri-Alpha Energy (or TAE Technologies), based in California, USA, for 20 years.
One of the most famous investors was a co-founder of Paul Allen, who died in October of last year.
The heavyweight division of this division was founded by six professors from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), renowned for Commonwealth Fusion Systems.
It was created just a year ago, but is considered one of the most ambitious projects because it aims to create a prototype reactor in 2025.
Gates and Bezzo are two of the venture capitalists with well-known entrepreneurs like Richard Branson and Michael Bloomberg.
Also Some oil companies have begun to bet on the future without fossil fuels.. According to a Bloomberg agency, Italy's Eni SpA led a group that invested $ 50 million in Commonwealth Fusion Systems in March.
However, some experts believe that the private sector is not the most likely project to move forward.
It's about the phone. International Thermal Nuclear Test Reactor (ITERIt was built in Cadarache in the south of France and has a budget of $ 23 billion.
35 countries cooperate in this scientific experiment, which began 30 years ago.
ITER estimates that large-scale reactors are ready by 2050.
Some countries also develop their own initiatives. In April, the BBC was able to access facilities in Anhui Province, China. They claim to be more advanced than their peers. In the United States, the European Union, Japan, Korea, and Brazil
But all these projects face the same problem. It is interesting that this is not the way to achieve nuclear fusion.
The big challenge is How to generate more energy than is consumed in the process.
Fusion is based on heating materials to very high temperatures of over hundreds of billions. In that state, the substance is called plasma.
Unlike the sun, the earth has no conditions to keep the plasma warm. To do this, the plasma must be isolated from other materials. for teeth A special camera in the form of a ringaTokamak.
Tokamak They use powerful magnets. Creating a magnetic field that keeps the plasma in isolation. The problem is that today's cameras consume more energy than they produce.
The company's solution, such as Commonwealth Fusion Systems, uses better magnets, but in fact, no one has overcome these big obstacles.
Tesla's creator, Elon Musk, thinks you need to invest in making better solar panels and batteries. It captures the energy of the sun.Instead of wasting money trying to reproduce our star.
IP Group Plc investors, however, say in Bloomerg agencies that fusion energy takes longer than desired to be developed, but many innovations created for this industry They are very profitable..
According to Bloomberg Communications, research institutes have patented a number of creations from software that simulates plasma burning to temperatures up to 1.5 million degrees Celsius.
Meanwhile, Professor Hawking will have to wait to see if he can realize his desire for infinite and clean energy.