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Green World

This start-up aims to make nearly unlimited clean energy

Then Brendon Sorbom A 2010 graduate of Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, he decided to fly to Boston, taking the “thousand dollars” he had accumulated and his credit card (with 0 percent interest for one year).

Sorbom wanted to defend his doctoral dissertation. in nuclear fusion, but all five programs he applied for were rejected, including from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. MIT had told Sorbom, who studied electrical engineering and engineering physics at his bachelor’s degree, that he had no practical laboratory experience.

So Sorbom went there to get a job in the school’s fusion energy lab.

“It was probably a really stupid strategy, looking back,” Sorborm said. “But I was 22 and I was like, ‘I can definitely do this.’

Brandon Sorbom graduated in 2010 from Loyola Merimount University with a bachelor’s degree in fuzzy.

Sorborm did it: he got the job, and 12 years later Sorborm worked his doctoral degree from MIT and co-founder and chief research officer Commonwealth fusion systems, the fast-growing company stepped out of the research of Sorbom and its founders. CFS aims to commercialize, integrate a safe and almost unlimited source of “clean energy” to combat climate change. The company is funded by energy investment funds such as Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates Strong energy.

Why a merger?

At the heart of Commonwealth Fusion Systems lies nuclear fusion. This process the two atoms collide with each other and combine into a heavier atom to form energy. This What gives the sun power.

The pros of Fusion are many: First, it’s clean. (A lot of energy used all over the world formed as a result of combustion of carbon-based materials release gases into the atmosphere, heating the planet.)

Plus, it’s an almost limitless resource. Other clean energy is radically limited – wind energy depends on wind blowing, and solar energy, for example, depends on sunshine.

In addition, nuclear fusion is generally safe, so reactors can be located near settlements or cities, which contributes to infrastructure. (This is different from nuclear fission or energy generation as opposed to fission of an atom, i.e. the same process used in an atomic bomb. Fission occurs hazardous radioactive wasteand some sensational accidents caused a massive massacre, but now produces nuclear fission power plants 20% Electricity used in the United States)

Then there is the fusion potential. Because isotope hydrogen is the main fuel of fusion, the right technology can produce a glass of water a day, aka H2O, boosts fusion reactions enough to produce the amount of energy a person consumes throughout their life. CFS.

“Fusion can provide both electricity generation and heat, i.e. it can meet a variety of energy requirements, including: powering homes, recharging batteries, creating clean fuels, controlling chemical processes, or for other industrial purposes, ”he said. Andrew Holland, executive director of the Fusion Industry Association.

It is “directly compatible with existing networks and does not require significant upgrades,” Holland said. Ideally, once enlarged, the fusion energy will eventually be compared to the current cost of electricity with cost.

On the other hand, fusion has one big problem: with current technology, it absorbs all the energy it creates to continue the fusion reaction and leaves no “pure energy” to power other things.

A Cooperation of 35 countries in the south of France He is trying to change it by creating the largest fusion machine on the planet called Iter (Latin for “road”). This is “the most expensive scientific experiment humanity has ever tried with a $ 20 billion order.” Egemen Kolemen, Assistant Professor, Department of Mechanics and Aerospace Engineering, Princeton University.

But for Sorbom and the rest of the Commonwealth fusion systems, Iter will be very costly and should have a significant impact on the upcoming global warming crisis.

CFS solution

Fusion provides a wide range of day-to-day emissions, the Netherlands says. But getting there will not be easy.

Creating and capturing solar energy is delicate. The special form of hydrogen must be heated until it reaches the fourth state of the substance, i.e. the plasma state.

“If you heat a solid, it turns into a liquid. If you heat that liquid, it turns into a gas. If you heat it, it becomes a plasma,” he says, “and you get charged particle soup.”

Plasma is a very weak state of matter. If interrupted, the fusion reaction stops. Thus, scientists have developed a machine known as the Russian acronym tokamak, magnetic fields are used to keep the donut in the plasma safe in the container.

Research by Sorbom and his colleagues has focused on improving the tokamak, specifically “making better and better magnets,” Sorbom said.

Good and strong magnets mean good insulation for the plasma, and the more efficiently the plasma can be heated, the more energy can be generated and the more accurate the energy generated. In CFS-operated machines, the temperature is 100 million degrees Celsius, which is approximately 180 million degrees Fahrenheit.

Although the founders of CFS were initially funded by MIT and the U.S. Department of Energy, Sorbom and its colleagues turned to capitalism and launched the Commonwealth Fusion Systems in June 2018.

So far, Commonwealth Fusion Systems has raised more than $ 215 million its most recent funding period was announced in May. Breakthrough Energy Ventures, With investments from Gates, Bezos, Ray Dalio, Richard Branson, Jack Ma, Michael Bloomberg, and others, the fund has contributed to the Commonwealth’s fusion systems. Engine, A venture capital company affiliated with MIT. CFS said the current funding will lead the company until 2021, but it is looking for additional funding.

According to KFTEN Communications Director Kristen Cullen, CFS will generate revenue for customers through the design and construction of nuclear fusion power plants, which could generate revenue over the next decade.

Brandon works at Sorbom Commonwealth Fusion Systems

When CFS eventually replaces other power sources, it becomes competitive one of the largest markets in the world economy.

CFS also works in other commercial applications of magnetic technology, such as MRI machines or wind turbines.

Now its next phase is the debut of magnetic technology this summer, and then by 2025 a SPARC is a machine that demonstrates this CFS technology can produce net energy.

From there, CFS was to move on to the development of the ARC, the first fusion power plant to be connected to its power grid. The CFS says it expects to generate fusion energy in the grid “in the early 2030s”.

Currently, a spinning machine developed by the team at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Commonwealth Thermonuclear Systems is a presentation of SPARC, which aims to create and limit energy-generating plasma.

CFS / MIT-PSFC is a CAD produced by T. Henderson

There is a lot that the Sorbom and CFS team have to do before they can be widely marketed. But industry observers are hopeful. Thermonuclear Industry Association Holland innovations over the next decade are expected to drive commercialization by 2030, which is “critical to the climate crisis over time,” he says.

And even if the government-backed forecasts for fusion commercialization are a little longer, UCLA Physics Professor Troy Carter thinks it is possible for a short time.

“With the private and public sectors working together, I think we can do that, but we need to start now, and we need more investment,” Carter said. He chaired a committee that published a report for the Ministry of Energy outlining a strategic plan to build a pilot fusion plant by 2040.

Sorbom is also encouraged by The Biden administration is focusing on climate change, but it is also realistic. “Climate change is a huge problem,” Sorbom said. “People think the pandemic is bad, but if you look at the forecasts [climate change] It could look like 2050 … that’s pretty scary. ”

Indeed, “fusion power is a solution to global warming,” says Holland. “The challenge is to get it to the network quickly.”