Heliogen, an energy startup backed by Bill Gates has achieved a notable breakthrough in solar power.
On Tuesday, CNN reported that Heliogen has found a way to use artificial intelligence and a field of mirrors to reflect so much sunlight that it could generate extreme heat over 1,000 degrees Celsius. Basically, the startup made a solar oven that is able to reach temperatures that are approximately a quarter of “what you would find on the surface of the sun.”
For the first time, concentrated solar energy can be utilized to make the heat needed to make cement, steel, and glass.
The Founder and CEO of Heliogen, Bill Gross, told CNN Business, “We are rolling out technology that can beat the price of fossil fuels and also not make the CO2 emissions. And that is really the holy grail.”
Aside from Gates, the startup is also backed by Patrick Soon-Shiong, the Los Angeles Times owner. The company thinks the patented technology will be able to lessen greenhouse gas emissions from industry.
Soon-Shiong stated, “Bill and the team have truly now harnessed the sun. The potential for humankind is enormous. The potential to business is unfathomable.”
How it Differs from Traditional Solar Power
Traditional solar power uses rooftop solar panels to store energy from the sun. Heliogen is enhancing concentrated solar power. The technology uses mirrors to reflect the sun to a single point and has been used in the past to produce electricity. However, concentrated solar power before could not get temperatures hot enough to create cement and steel.
The Use of Artificial Intelligence to Solve Climate Crisis
Heliogen and its team of engineers and scientists turned to artificial intelligence to solve the temperature problem of traditional concentrated solar power. The company uses computer vision software, automatic edge detection, and other advanced technology to train a field of mirrors to reflect solar beams to a particular spot.
Gross explained, “If you take a thousand mirrors and have them align exactly to a single point, you can achieve extremely high temperatures.”
This breakthrough is reportedly generating so much heat that the technology could create clean hydrogen at scale. The carbon-free hydrogen could also produce fuel for airplanes and trucks.
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