Young seniors looking back from 2050 to June 2021:

Summer coat for polar bears

Text:
Stan Vullings  ‘Finalist Nationale Scheikunde Olympiade 2021’
Beeld:
Shutterstock
10 june 2050

You probably remember it, back in the days of the climate crisis. The earth was warming so drastically that it required a new way of life to stop it, the fossil fuels could no longer be used if we wanted to prevent catastrophe. What a contrast with the present, the CO2 emissions have been reduced so much that my father would say that the polar bears are even cold, although that is of course nonsense.


This all started as a dream, mine and thousands of others worldwide. You can certainly remember the drop in biofuel price and the mass decrease in gray power due to the perfection of nuclear fusion. Breakthroughs for which I am partly responsible.

In my early years as a chemical engineer at Green Enterprises, my colleagues and I received grants from several governments around the world to manufacture a more efficient way to synthesize biofuels. We came up with the idea to design an enzyme that has a lower activation energy by means of metal complexes, so that it can more efficiently convert various organic compounds into hexadecane (diesel). We perfected the enzyme by combining multiple active centers into a “Super Enzyme”, this super enzyme has the advantage of having several active centers that can bind different substances without the centers needing different conditions to function. This saves a lot of time and money, which makes it financially profitable. As a result, large companies such as Shell have massively invested in biofuels and today every drop of diesel has been created from biological waste.

Now I thought the answer was in nuclear power, I wondered why we hadn't got our promised sun on Earth working yet

While this was a big step in the right direction, it turned out not to be enough. The amount of biomass was not yet significant enough to compensate for all gray electricity. Now I thought the answer was in nuclear power, I wondered why we hadn't got our promised sun on Earth working yet. Apparently the rim of the reactor became porous and unstable after use. It was at that moment that I realized there might be an opportunity to use self-healing polymers. I knew that the heat generated by the fusion reaction can be used to initiate the healing polymer reaction. After introducing my idea to differ, I was hired to make a reactor wall that met the requirements. After spending five years with my team perfecting this project, we finally made it. Now when a particle shoots out of the plasma and collides with the reactor wall, it hits the polymer first, which affects the polymer but protects the rest of the wall. The polymer repairs itself and the reactor wall can last for years longer.

This kickstarted the fusion energy era. Fossil fuels were soon enough put out of the game and after the construction of the fusion reactors, world energy was dominated by fusion. All this has ensured that the climate agreement has been achieved and that is reason for a big celebration.

Text:
Stan Vullings  ‘Finalist Nationale Scheikunde Olympiade 2021’
Image:
Shutterstock