Microsoft has signed an agreement with Altman-backed engineering startup Hellion Energy, which aims to provide clean energy through nuclear fusion by 2028.
Nuclear fusion energy is a theoretical form of energy production in which energy is produced using nuclear fusion reactions. In a fusion process, two lighter atomic nuclei combine to form a heavy nucleus, releasing energy at the same time.
Since fusion energy has so far been beyond humanity’s reach, and many experts agree that we are unlikely to crack the code for decades, such a goal is extremely ambitious.
To that end, the deal seems to have a lot of risks, especially on Helion’s part. According to the Wall Street Journal, if the Altman-backed startup fails to meet its goal by 2029, it will face a significant financial penalty (the amount of which has not been disclosed).
“We would never have entered into this agreement if we weren’t optimistic about the increasing engineering progress,” Microsoft chairman Brad Smith told the Wall Street Journal.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Hellion Engineering says it will provide a working prototype for display this year.
Altman, for his part, is bullish on Helion and nuclear fusion in general, telling the Wall Street Journal that he thinks the startup may even be able to deliver on its promises ahead of schedule. Considering he’s committed $375 million to the renewable energy company, we’re glad he feels good about his investment.
The head of OpenAI told the Wall Street Journal: “I’ve always believed that two things are very important to build the future and improve the quality of life, one is cheap and the other is to make intelligence and energy abundant. And if we can do that, “We’re going to change the world in a really positive way.”
Speaking to the Wall Street Journal, Helion CEO David Curtley added, “Our contract is flexible, but it’s really important that there are significant financial penalties for Helion if we don’t deliver.” “We think the physics of this work is ready for us to show that commercialization of nuclear fusion is deliverable.”
But while we’re glad these guys are eager to do this big thing, all fusion claims should be viewed with a bit of caution. Despite the recent advances in this technology, which many people have been looking for for a long time, many experts in this field believe that mankind is currently too young to think about nuclear fusion.
Either way, we’ll definitely be keeping an eye on Helion’s activities, and in the meantime we’ll be keeping a close eye on Microsoft’s investment in Altman’s OpenAI.