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Technology Solar energy 'breakthrough' could replace fossil fuels in some industries

06:11  20 november  2019
06:11  20 november  2019 Source:   engadget.com

Porsche Taycan demand leads to hiring spree at Zuffenhausen plant

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If solar energy is truly going to take over from fossil fuels, it needs to be hot enough for not only generating power, but replacing industrial processes outright -- and even the 1,049F of the best solar concentrator systems wouldn't cut it. Heliogen, however, may have finally cracked that barrier. The Bill Gates-backed startup has successfully concentrated solar energy at "breakthrough" temperatures above 1,832F, making it toasty enough to replace fossil fuels for industrial tasks like producing cement or steel.

a person sitting on top of a sandy beach

The trick is the use of computer vision (aka a form of AI) to align a large array of mirrors as they reflect sunlight on a solitary target. That allows for the kind of accuracy that hasn't been possible until now.

See a 'cosmic pretzel' stuffed with twin baby stars

  See a 'cosmic pretzel' stuffed with twin baby stars The universe can file this one under "cute baby photos" in its scrapbook.The twin stars are located in the [BHB2007] 11 system, which is in the Barnard 59 dark nebula, which is in turn a part of the larger Pipe nebula.

There's still a lot of work to go before the technology enters real-world use. Heliogen achieved the record heat levels the first day of its plant's operation, company founder Bill Gross told CNN. While impressive, it won't immediately translate to a practical solution.

Nonetheless, the implications are huge. As Gates noted in the announcement, industrial processes are responsible for over 20 percent of emissions. If the technology can cut even a portion those emissions, that could help keep global warming in check. Heliogen has greater ambitions, too. It ultimately hopes to reach temperatures of 2,732F, which would be hot enough to create hydrogen and synthetic gas. At that point, you'd have clean energy being used to produce more clean energy -- there would be relatively little need to generate emissions in the first place.

Heliogen

Parker Solar Probe Scientists Reveal Jaw-Dropping First Results From the Sun .
Today, scientists are releasing the surprising initial results from the Parker Solar Probe’s first two close encounters with the Sun. © Photo: Ronan Laker/GONG/NASA/HelioPy/PFSSPy The lines represent tubes of solar wind emerging from a hole in the corona. I like it because it kind of looks like it could be a punk band’s album cover. From 36 solar radii away, it’s already clear that our Sun is a chaotic beast full of surprises, with solar winds circling it faster than expected, rapidly reversing magnetic fields, and blobs of plasma spewing from its corona.

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