Helion Energy and Nuclear Fusion Technology
An Overview of Nuclear Fusion
With the effects of climate change becoming more apparent, the race to find a clear and feasible solution to the world’s growing environmental issues is increasing, especially as the reliance on fossil fuels only continues to rise. Nuclear fusion technology, however, is a leading contender in the fight against climate change with nearly unlimited clean electricity that does not contribute to the detrimental effects of radioactive waste.
Nuclear fusion has many advantages that make it a viable alternative to traditional energy extraction:
- The process produces as much as four times the amount of energy as fission, is renewable, and is essentially inexhaustible.
- Furthermore, fusion does not emit CO2, one of the most harmful greenhouse gases, into the atmosphere.
- Fusion does not produce any nuclear waste. Fusion reactors have a low enough activation to ensure materials are reusable for the next 100 years.
- There is also a more limited risk of proliferation as fusion does not employ fissile materials such as uranium and plutonium.
- Lastly, there is virtually no risk of a meltdown as the fuel used to operate a fusion reactor is not enough to start a chain reaction nuclear accident.
The current nuclear industry’s foundation is based on nuclear fission which is the releasing of energy when an atom is split into smaller atoms. Fusion, on the other hand, works oppositely by creating energy when two atoms collide into a larger one, much like the Sun.
What is Helion Energy?
Helion Energy, an American nuclear fusion company, might soon change the game. They are one of many companies working towards creating this clean energy source and bringing it to the market. They use “pulsed magnetic fusion” to compress and expand fuel to get electricity that requires extremely high temperatures for fusion.
According to CNBC, the company just received $500 million in investments to grow their company and build their fusion facility in Everett, Washington. Sam Altman, the past president of Y Combinator and current CEO of Open AI, describes his $375 million investment in the company as one of the biggest investments he has ever made.
The recent investments in Helion’s technology are different from previous attempts to make fusion a reliable method for electricity production. CEO of Helion, David Kirtley, states that it applies more advanced electronics, fiber optics, and computers that are smaller in size and easier to iterate on. If the investments spur research and the eventual market use of Helion’s nuclear fusion solution, the world has a chance at mitigating the drastic effects of climate change soon.