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The Earth Factory

July 5, 2022

The Earth Factory

We could all be walking around on an “element factory” — Earth — courtesy of Solid-State Atomic and Fusion Energy

 

In his latest work, our partner Professor Mikio Fukuhara, Research Fellow at Tohoku University, and other colleagues in Japan and Canada propose that “light” elements — oxygen, nitrogen and all other elements with atomic numbers up to 25 — can be produced inside the Earth. The authors claim that fusion reactions occur in the Earth’s lower mantle, where they are catalyzed by neutrinos and excited electrons. Those reactions, shown in a model published last year, would involve carbon and oxygen nuclei confined inside the crystal lattice of calcium carbonate rocks, a form of Solid-State Atomic and Fusion Energy (S-SAFE)

To demonstrate the fusion mechanism’s plausibility, the researchers’ model calculated the minimum energy required to initiate the reaction in each case and then analyzed the crystal structure of a mineral found in the mantle that contains the reacting elements. Fukuhara and his colleagues point out that their proposed mechanism remains a hypothesis and should be further tested in experiments carried out at high temperatures and pressures. But they maintain that if confirmed their results would have a profound impact on geophysics. 

If proven, their work would be among the biggest breakthroughs since the Big Bang model, which posits the only elements present in the early universe were hydrogen, helium and tiny amounts of lithium. It is thought in this theory that elements with atomic numbers between four and 25 are instead made through the progressive fusion of heavier nuclei inside massive stars. Now, it looks as if elements may have been forged on Earth, as well as in space. 

We congratulate Mikio and his team on their discovery and their ongoing progress in uncovering the mysteries of element creation through S-SAFE. Who knows? We could all be walking around on an astonishing element factory: Earth.

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