Heliogen, a super-secret clean energy company supported by billionaire Bill Gates, has just announced that it has made a breakthrough in the field of solar energy.
What’s That? Solar energy is the energy created by the Sun, which can be used to power different things here on earth.
Heliogen says that they have managed to come up with a way to generate heat above 1000 degrees Celsius using mirrors and artificial intelligence. The technology works like a solar oven and can create the extremely high temperatures required to make materials that humans need, like cement, steel, and glass.
So what’s the big deal? This breakthrough is significant because it produces clean energy in large quantities, and this clean energy is less expensive than that obtained from fossil fuels. That this can be done on a large scale will allow solar energy to replace traditional energy forms in a more widespread manner. So industries like cement and steel-making, that contribute upto one-fifth, or 20% of global greenhouse gas emissions can use this new technology to power them. Pretty cool!
How are they doing this? This has been achieved through the use of artificial intelligence and a field of mirrors all being pointed at one spot. The AI software trains the mirrors to concentrate the solar beams to generate that high temperature.
Are there other companies that are trying to do this as well? Yes! One in Europe is called Solpart. They have also been able to generate enough power to try and fuel a cement plant.
What happens next? Heliogen’s team needs to demonstrate that the energy it generates is able to power cement plants. This would be proof-of-concept, or proof that this idea or concept can work.
Both teams need to show that they can also store the solar power so that there will be enough energy for industry even when the sun isn’t shining!
Heliogen’s Dream: The company’s dream is to use its technology to create a form of clean hydrogen without the use of carbon dioxide. This could then be used as fuel for airplanes and trucks, which will change the future of travel as well!
Adapted from CNN and Wired
Written by: Disha Mirchandani. Disha is a former lawyer turned freelance content writer. She is a fitness enthusiast and amateur aerialist with her own fitness photo-blog as well.