DeepResource

Observing the renewable energy transition from a European perspective

The Winning Renewables – Solar/Wind or Fusion?

Currently, renewable energy generation, like solar, wind, biomass, geothermal, hydro and hydrogen and batteries as storage, have a cutting edge globally. In the long term, however, huge technological surprises are still possible. Fusion power in a way is proven technology. In fact, the entire universe is based on it. Without fusion energy, there would be no wind, solar and the rest.

The only real difference between stellar fusion and human fusion attempts is that in the first case, the fusion reactor is kept together by the forces of gravity, something that on earth is unthinkable.

The Californian private company TAE Technologies claims to have achieved a significant breakthrough:

Foothill Ranch, CA — April 8, 2021 — TAE Technologies, the world’s largest private fusion energy company, has announced a landmark fusion technology milestone by producing stable plasma at 50M+ degrees Celsius in a proprietary compact reactor design that can scale to competitive fusion-generated power.

The fuel consists of hydrogen and boron-11. The company, that has no shortage of cash, expects to bring a commercially competitive fusion reactor to market by 2030.

The company was founded in 1998, has 150 employees and by 2021 has accumulated $880 million. It has the backing of investors like Goldman Sachs, Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen’s Vulcan Inc., Rockefeller’s Venrock, New Enterprise Associates and the Russian government.

The company said it can now sustain a plasma for an indefinite amount of time. TAE’s reactor needs to be able to heat plasma to 100 million degrees Celsius, but it recently demonstrated it can get to 50 million degrees C, which gives it confidence it can reach its goal before the end of the decade.

Not sure to look forward to a future with cheap, infinite energy, even if clean. It would be a hyper-mobile world.

TAE is not the only one making real progress:

[interestingengineering.com] – China’s Artificial Sun Sets New World Record Getting Closer to Nuclear Fusion

The artificial sun, also called the Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST), achieved plasma temperature at 216 million degrees Fahrenheit (120 million degrees Celsius) for 101 seconds and 288 million degrees Fahrenheit (160 million degrees Celsius) for 20 seconds, reported the Chinese state-affiliated newspaper Global Times

The Chinese achieved higher temperatures than the Americans, but admit that they still haven’t achieved “stability”.

The Wikipedia page for TAE says…

In 2021, TAE Technologies stated Norman was regularly producing a stable plasma at temperatures over 50 million degrees

…which begs the question of what their stability duration record now really is. And if it is stable, can they acieve 100 million Celsius and still keep it stable?

The TAE-fusion reactor

[tae.com] – Fusion Energy Milestone from TAE Technologies
[wikipedia.org] – TAE Technologies
[eetimes.com] – Carbon-free Energy by Fusion Technology
[techh.info] – Fusion timeline
[focus.de] – Alle Energieprobleme auf einen Schlag gelöst? Großer Durchbruch bei der Kernfusion in den USA
[cnbc.com] – Look inside this lab where scientists are recreating the energy of the sun to produce nearly unlimited clean energy
[popularmechanics.com] – This Nuclear Reactor Just Made Fusion Viable by 2030. Seriously.
[world-nuclear-news.org] – TAE reaches ‘hot enough’ plasma milestone
[techcrunch.com] – Claiming a landmark in fusion energy, TAE Technologies sees commercialization by 2030

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