How much energy can antimatter produce

Antimatter power plant

Antimatter: the evil twin of matter

Antimatter is the twin of matter - albeit with the opposite charge. In the Big Bang, matter and antimatter are said to have arisen in equal parts. But if that were the case, the cosmic twins would have had to destroy each other immediately. Therefore, more recent theories assume that there must have been a bit more matter than antimatter. Our universe then emerged from this remnant.

How energy is created from antimatter

The mutual annihilation of matter and antimatter is called the annihilation reaction. Both particles radiate into pure energy without leaving any residue. The amount of energy produced in this way is gigantic. A single kilogram of anti-hydrogen would be enough to meet the energy needs of a small German town for over 100 years. To clarify the relationships, a few figures: While one can gain 39 kilowatts from the combustion of 1 kg of hydrogen, it would be 50 billion kilowatts with the annihilation - that is over a billion times (1,282,051,282.05) as much as with the Combustion.

The problem of generation and storage

For an antimatter power plant, as the name suggests, you absolutely need antimatter. Scientists at the Nuclear and Particle Research Center CERN have already succeeded in generating antimatter particles. In 2011, it was possible to artificially generate and store 309 anti-hydrogen atoms using particle accelerators for almost 17 minutes.

In order for this to work, the particles were cooled to around minus 272 degrees Celsius. So it was achieved that the antimatter particles had a low speed and could be caught in a kind of magnetic cage.

It is only with the help of this magnetic field that it is possible at all to store antimatter. The reason is obvious: as soon as an antimatter particle arises, it is immediately destroyed by the interaction with its counterpart. The magnetic field isolates the antiparticle from its counterpart and thus protects it from undesired annihilation effects - i.e. the meeting of the unequal pairs of twins.

When will there be antimatter power plants?

It will probably be a few centuries before antimatter power plants find their way from the science fiction novel into our everyday lives. And even then, it is questionable whether all difficulties can be overcome. At present, much more energy is required for the production of antimatter than can be obtained from its annihilation. The ratio of energy consumption to energy generation is currently still 1,000,000: 1. Some scientists even assume that an antimatter power plant will never be worthwhile, since technological advances can generate as much energy as was put into it. The profitability would therefore be zero. It would look different if humanity were to discover large deposits of antimatter in space.

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