Solar-Powered Laser Promises Almost-Unlimited Energy, More Efficient Death Stars

solar_laser_x220.jpgThe Tokyo Institute of Technology has created a solar-powered laser which is the first to use "Fresnel lenses made of neodymium-doped yttrium aluminium garnet doped with chromium." OK. Whatever. For all I care they can call it "fansworthtricorderium doped in darthvadium" —as soon as it delivers on its promise of providing unlimited energy from a practically-never-ending source: Magnesium.This element has ten times the energy storage density of hydrogen, with 1,800 trillion metric tons readily available in sea water.

The solar laser-based magnesium combustion process produces extreme heat, hydrogen and magnesium oxide. The heat could be used to power turbines while the hydrogen could power cars with hydrogen-based engines. Meanwhile, according to Prof. Yabe the magnesium oxide could get recycled back into magnesium again using the laser itself.

Apparently, the solar-powered laser created by Prof. Yabe is three times more efficient than existing solar lasers, like similar concepts previously touted by the Osaka University Institute of Laser Engineering to beam solar power to Earth. The fresnel lenses can focus 80% of the ambient light. The power of this type of lenses increases exponentially: with a 1.3-meter-squared lens they get a 25-watt laser but they "are expecting 300 to 400 watts with the four-meter-squared Fresnel lens." [Technology Review]

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