Google is getting involved to bring nuclear fusion closer to our time

Google and Tri Alpha Energy working together to bring nuclear fusion closer to our time.

Google and a leading company in nuclear fusion from the U.S. are working together to develop a new and very complex computer algorithm that can significantly speed up the road toward limitless clean energy provided by the nuclear fusion reaction.

Tri Alpha Energy is the name of the nuclear fusion company based in California and backed by Paul Allen (the co-founder of Microsoft,) that raised $500 million in investment and worked with Google Research to develop the Optometrist algorithm.

The very complex algorithm enables high-powered computation to be combined with human judgement to find together solutions to complex problems.

Nuclear fusion reaction is an exceptionally complex process that is involving non-linear phenomena, in which small changes can generate large outcomes that makes the engineering behind the security measures to be a very challenging one.

Ted Baltz, software engineer at Google, said that the whole thing involving nuclear fusion is something beyond what they know how to do even with Google-scale computing resources.

It seems that humans and computers are doing a better job by working together and we can use this procedure to speed up the progress towards limitless clean energy.

Google’s Research is working with Tri Alpha Energy’s C2-U machine to solve operations that usually took a month in just a few hours.

The Optometrist algorithm showed unexpected ways of operating the plasma, and the team achieved a 50% reduction in energy losses from the system.

The results have shown an increase in total plasma energy, which must reach a critical temperature of 100 million degrees centigrade for fusion to occur.

Michl Binderbauer, president and chief technology officer at Tri Alpha Energy, stated that such results might take years to solve without the help of the advanced computation algorithm.

The former U.S. energy secretary, Ernest Moniz, was recently added to Tri Alpha Energy’s board of directors, and the company plans to produce clean electricity using the nuclear fusion reaction within a decade.

Tri Alpha Energy’s C2-U machine ran an experiment at every eight minutes, and involved blasting plasma with a beam of hydrogen atoms to keep the plasma spinning in a magnetic field for up to 10 milliseconds.

The aim was to see if the plasma is behaving as theory predicts, and represents a promising route to a fusion reactor that could generate more energy than it consumes.

The Optometrist algorithm has shown the researchers a new configuration in which the hydrogen beam completely balanced the cooling losses, which generated an increased energy in the plasma.

It lasted only for two milliseconds, but still, it was a first!” said Ted Baltz.

In the meantime, the C2-U machine was replaced with a more powerful and sophisticated machine called Norman (they took the name of the company’s late co-founder Norman Rostoker).

The Norman machine managed to achieve the first plasma earlier in July, and if the experiments on the new machine are successful, the company wants to build a demonstration power generator.

Many other teams of researchers around the world are working to achieve the nuclear fusion reaction, but the most funded one is the ITER project located in southern France.

ITER is a $21 billion international project that involves teams of researchers from the U.S., the EU, China, Rusia, Japan, South Korea and India, and it already started to build its own nuclear fusion reactor in southern France.

ITER uses a conventional tokamak reactor (doughnut-shaped reactor) and plans to create its first plasma in 2025, and reach maximum power output by 2035.

ITER uses a conventional tokamak reactor (doughnut-shaped reactor) and plans to create its first plasma in 2025, and reach maximum power output by 2035.

If the project will succeed to achieve its goal, ITER may become the foundation of the first power plants using nuclear fusion.

Magda Savin
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Magda Savin

I write about the renewable energy sector, electric cars and climate change issues.
I love nature and good food, so I travel all over the world to see new places and meet new people.
Magda Savin
Magda Savin
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