Jump to content

Microsoft signs power purchase deal with nuclear fusion company Helion


Recommended Posts

Looks like another major transition is underway. Clean power!

Fusion clean renewable energy will back up solar, wind, hydro, geothermal, energy sources. If their timeline is correct it is just in time to shut down the fossil fueled power plants.

But it's still five years away from estimated to be online. Joel, it's always five years away right? But it looks better with recent breakthroughs. They will demonstrate their seventh gen machine online generating power next year? I'm with Joel's earlier comment that he'll believe it when he sees it! 😉

Excerpt:

"WASHINGTON (Reuters) -Private U.S. nuclear fusion company Helion Energy will provide Microsoft with electricity in about five years, the companies said on Wednesday, in the first such deal for the power source that fuels the sun but has been elusive on Earth.

Government labs and more than 30 companies are racing to generate power from fusion, which could one day help the world slash emissions linked to climate change. Unlike today's fission reactors, it could generate power without producing long-lasting radioactive waste.

Fusion occurs when two light atoms such as hydrogen, heated to extreme temperatures, fuse into one heavier atom, releasing large amounts of energy. So far, earthly fusion reactions have been momentary and suck up more energy than they release, but companies have raised about $5 billion in private funding in the quest to achieve net energy gain.

Helion's plant is expected to be online by 2028 and will target power generation of 50 megawatts or greater after a one-year ramp-up period, it said. One megawatt can supply up to about 1,000 U.S. homes on a typical day.

"Fifty megawatts is a big first step of commercial-scale fusion, and the revenue feeds right back into us developing more power plants and getting fusion out on the grid both in the United States and internationally as fast as possible," David Kirtley, Washington state-based Helion's founder and CEO, said in an interview.

Polaris, Helion's seventh-generation machine, should come online next year and demonstrate electricity generation, using a mix of laser and magnet technologies to achieve fusion, Kirtley said. In 2021, Helion was the first private company to achieve 100 million degrees Celsius (180 million degrees Fahrenheit) and the optimum temperature for fusion is about twice that, Kirtley said.

While many fusion companies are looking to tritium, a rare hydrogen isotope, to help fuel reactions, Helion plans to use Helium 3, a rare type of the gas used in quantum computing.

Helion has so far raised more than $570 million in private capital, with OpenAI CEO Sam Altman providing $375 million in 2021.

Brad Smith, vice chair and president at Microsoft Corp, said in a news release that Helion's work "supports our own long-term clean energy goals and will advance the market to establish a new, efficient method for bringing more clean energy to the grid, faster." 

The companies did not disclose financial or timing details of the power purchase agreement, or which Microsoft facilities would get fusion-generated electricity.

Kimberly Budil, the head of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, which is experimenting with fusion, said last December that a few decades of research and investment could put scientists in a position to build a power plant.

Helion still needs design and construction approvals from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), as well as local permits. But the fusion industry was cheered by the NRC's decision last month to separate fusion regulation from that of fission, a move backers say could reduce timelines for license approvals.

Andrew Holland, head of the Fusion Industry Association, said nothing about fusion has been easy and that the power purchase contract likely had clauses regarding the timing of the delivery of electricity. But he said the deal shows trust is building.

"The business world is starting to understand that fusion is coming and perhaps sooner than a lot of people thought," Holland said in an interview. "It's a vote of confidence that Helion is on its way, as are other companies building their proof-of-concept machines now."

Source:

https://www.msn.com/en-us/money/companies/microsoft-signs-power-purchase-deal-with-nuclear-fusion-company-helion/ar-AA1b0sSP?OCID=ansmsnnews11

Edited by RV_
Link to comment
Share on other sites

One thing that is usually overlooked in articles about fusion is that it is not nearly as radioactively "clean" as people imagine it is.  No, it doesn't produce nuclear waste as a byproduct of the fusion process, but the energy produced by fusion comes in the form of 14.1 MeV neutrons which can "induce" radioactivity in many materials.  What this means is that a fusion power plant may become increasingly "hot" over time as it is used which may make it difficult to maintain it.  I don't think much effort is being put into this topic yet, but it will definitely be important when commercial power plants have been commissioned.  Back a few decades ago there was one proponent of fusion power using Tokamaks who proposed that the plants be built "cheaply" so they can be economically discarded when they malfunction, since they will be too radioactive to service safely.  This, no doubt, is a bit of an exaggeration, but it is a non-trivial commiseration.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

Joel, it's not ready yet, then we'll see, right?

This should be interesting for investors to watch. Regular fission plants are acceptable to all sides in most cases.

The old saw about "buy the rumor, sell the news" may apply. Or not. 😉

Edited by RV_
Link to comment
Share on other sites

7 hours ago, Chalkie said:

IF they can get it to work there will be no need for wind or large scale solar. Big at this time that is a big if.

See Joel's post.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Does Fusion produce radioactive nuclear waste the same way fission does?

Nuclear fission power plants have the disadvantage of generating unstable nuclei; some of these are radioactive for millions of years. Fusion on the other hand does not create any long-lived radioactive nuclear waste. A fusion reactor produces helium, which is an inert gas. It also produces and consumes tritium within the plant in a closed circuit. Tritium is radioactive (a beta emitter) but its half life is short. It is only used in low amounts so, unlike long-lived radioactive nuclei, it cannot produce any serious danger. The activation of the reactor’s structural material by intense neutron fluxes is another issue. This strongly depends on what solution for blanket and other structures has been adopted, and its reduction is an important challenge for future fusion experiments.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

19 minutes ago, Kirk W said:

Does Fusion produce radioactive nuclear waste the same way fission does?

Nuclear fission power plants have the disadvantage of generating unstable nuclei; some of these are radioactive for millions of years. Fusion on the other hand does not create any long-lived radioactive nuclear waste. A fusion reactor produces helium, which is an inert gas. It also produces and consumes tritium within the plant in a closed circuit. Tritium is radioactive (a beta emitter) but its half life is short. It is only used in low amounts so, unlike long-lived radioactive nuclei, it cannot produce any serious danger. The activation of the reactor’s structural material by intense neutron fluxes is another issue. This strongly depends on what solution for blanket and other structures has been adopted, and its reduction is an important challenge for future fusion experiments.

Yep!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...