Solving the energy crisis

Turning (anti)matter into energy

When matter and antimatter come together, they annihilate: all their mass is turned into energy.

If we can arrange for this to happen, in small quantities, under the right conditions, we can capture the energy.

In principle there’s no reason why this energy couldn’t be used to generate electricity.

Where would the antimatter come from?

Antimatter doesn’t occur naturally on the Earth, like sunshine, or the wind and tides. Unlike coal or oil, we can’t just go and dig it up. If we want antimatter here on Earth, we have to make it.

We make antimatter either through radioactive decay, or in a particle accelerator.

It’s difficult and expensive. Making antimatter takes a lot of energy.

We have to use up energy to make antimatter

How much energy do we need to use up in order to make antimatter?

To find out, we need Einstein’s equation again.

E = mc2

  • E is the energy (in joules)
  • m is the mass of the matter and antimatter (in kg)
  • c is the speed of light (in metres per second)

The equation is the same, whether we’re turning energy into matter, or matter into energy.

So the energy we have to use up to produce a certain amount of antimatter (E=mc2) is the same as the energy (E=mc2) we can get back from that amount of antimatter.

Getting some energy back

Even if everything worked perfectly, we could never get back more energy than we put in.

In the real world, things don’t work perfectly, and it costs us much more energy to make antimatter than we could ever get back.

How much energy?

What’s more, if we added up all the antimatter ever produced on Earth to date, and converted it all to energy, it would only be enough to power a standard light bulb for a few hours.

We’ll have to find some other source to solve our energy crisis.

This myth is BUSTED!

Next: antimatter spacecraft >>


 
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