A wild new study suggests we could use tiny black holes as nuclear power sources: ScienceAlert
The idea of black holes is an idea that inspires terror and awe. They are inevitable! They devour everything! Nothing ever comes out!
The accuracy of these beliefs falls within the range of controversy to error. Two physicists have now calculated how to extract blood from a black hole’s rock. According to Zhan-Feng Mai and Run-Qiu Yang of Tianjin University in China, small black holes could theoretically be used as an energy source.
Their calculations found that these ultra-dense objects could act as rechargeable batteries and nuclear reactors, providing gigaelectronvolts of energy.
In fact, the energy extracted does not come from inside the black hole, but from directly outside it: the strongest known concentrations of gravity in the universe.
Our universe is thought to be full of black holes, but they’re not always easy to spot. What we found indicates that these mysterious objects range in mass from about five times the mass of the Sun to tens of billions of the mass of the Sun.
But there is another class of black hole weight, at least in theory. These are primordial black holes, and they can be spatially small, down to subatomic sizes.
Where stellar-mass black holes form from the collapsed cores of massive dead stars, primordial black holes are thought to have formed from excess density in the primordial plasma that filled the universe after the Big Bang.
We don’t know whether primordial black holes exist, but if they do, it opens up a lot of possibilities. One is dark matter, for which primordial black holes are an attractive candidate.
And now it looks like we might be able to harness these virtual dimples in space-time in some way.
The battery converts non-electrical energy into electrical energy. A nuclear reactor uses the power of nuclear reactions to produce energy. May and Yang believe that a small black hole could theoretically do both.
“Taking into account that a black hole has a very strong gravitational force, an interesting question arises: Considering at least theoretically, can we use the gravitational force of black holes to generate electrical energy, i.e. make use of black holes as batteries?” Writing in their paper.
“In this paper, we argue theoretically that we can use a Schwarzschild black hole as a rechargeable battery.”
Now, there’s a problem with very small black holes: Hawking radiation. This is the mass lost by the black hole due to the interaction between the black hole’s event horizon and the quantum fields next to it. The smaller the black hole, the faster it loses mass via Hawking radiation. If the black hole is small enough, it will completely evaporate relatively quickly.
A small black hole is also expected to swallow matter very quickly, making it difficult to extract anything from the space around it.
May and Yang have found that they can regenerate and recharge a primordial black hole above a certain mass in a way that produces electrical energy. A black hole the size of an atom and a mass of 1015 And 1018 Kilograms should be able to produce this energy when replenished with charged particles.
According to the researchers’ calculations, a black hole can convert a maximum of 25% of the input mass into energy. That’s a 25 percent efficiency rate. Most commercially available solar panels have an efficiency rating of less than 23 percent.
The team also determined that a black hole could have an efficiency similar to a nuclear reactor. Their equations showed that in the vicinity of a primordial black hole, 25% of the mass of an alpha particle, resulting from radioactive decay, can be converted into kinetic energy.
It’s not really something we’ll be able to test. Even if we knew for sure they were there, we wouldn’t be able to capture a primordial black hole, let alone contain and control it. But the analysis opens the door to some interesting food for thought.
In particular, the team says their black hole reactor model falls within the proposed mass range for dark matter, raising the intriguing possibility that we might be able to harness one of the most mysterious forms of matter in the universe to power our refrigerators.
The research is scheduled to be published in Physical review dwhich is available on arXiv.