Energy Availability Is Almost Infinite

By Steven Goddard

http://chamorrobible.org/images/photos/gpw-20050304-UnitedStatesDepartmentOfEnergy-XX-33-thermonuclear-hydrogen-bomb-Operation-Castle-ROMEO-Event-Bikini-Atoll-Marshall-Islands-19540327-large.jpg
A favorite excuse to push the AGW agenda is that “energy is limited, so we have to preserve it for future generations.”  But nothing could be further from the truth.  As that clever fellow Albert Einstein figured out ( E = Mc² ) – energy is available right here on earth in vast supplies beyond our comprehension.  In fact, a primary concern of mankind over the last 65 years has been to figure out how to keep mankind from releasing some of this energy too quickly, in a catastrophic fashion.

Einstein’s equation tells us that one kilogram of matter can be converted into 90,000,000,000,000,000 (ninety million billion) joules of energy.  That is roughly equivalent to saying that one liter of water contains as much potential energy as 10 million gallons of gasoline.  Those who saw the movie “Angels and Demons” are familiar with the concept of combining matter and anti-matter to achieve a highly efficient matter to energy conversion.  Mankind probably won’t have access to that sort of technology for some time into the future, but we already have hundreds of fission reactors generating a significant percentage of the world’s energy.
Scientists and engineers are also actively pursuing control of thermonuclear fusion, which powers the sun, stars and hydrogen bombs – and offers nearly unlimited energy potential using readily available fuel.  All of our current energy sources (coal, oil, wind, gas, nuclear, solar, etc.) are ultimately by-products of fusion.  Controlled fusion uses as fuel primarily the hydrogen isotope deuterium, which is abundant in seawater.
In the south of France, there is a large international fusion effort underway named ITER (Latin for “the way.”)  The project was originally agreed to by Francois Mitterrand, Mikhail Gorbachev, Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher in 1985, and was officially launched in October 2007.
Click to enlarge the image...
It is now being built in the south of France as part of an international collaboration between France, the US, Russia, the UK, the EU, India, China, Korea and Japan.  In 2010, the first concrete will be poured.
The deuterium will be heated to 150 million degrees centigrade, forming plasma (decomposed hydrogen atoms) which will be contained by electrical and magnetic fields inside the Tokomak pictured above.  (Note the size on the person at the bottom right in the picture above.)  The plasma particles combine in a fusion reaction to form helium, and release vast amounts of energy in the process – which is captured as heat and used to generate electricity.
From Wikipedia : (D = Deuterium  T = Tritium  n = neutron)

The easiest (according to the Lawson criterion) and most immediately promising nuclear reaction to be used for fusion power is:

D + T → 4He + n

Deuterium is a naturally occurring isotope of hydrogen and as such is universally available. The large mass ratio of the hydrogen isotopes makes the separation rather easy compared to the difficult uranium enrichment process. Tritium is also an isotope of hydrogen, but it occurs naturally in only negligible amounts due to its radioactive half-life of 12.32 years. Consequently, the deuterium-tritium fuel cycle requires the breeding of tritium from lithium using one of the following reactions:

n + 6Li → T + 4He

n + 7Li → T + 4He + n

Below is the timeline for ITER over the next decade.
Click to enlarge the image...
It is anticipated that some fusion energy will be in the power grid in as little as 30 years, and be the primary source of electrical energy in perhaps 80 years.

By the last quarter of this century, if ITER and DEMO are successful, our world will enter the Age of Fusion – an age when mankind covers a significant part of its energy needs with an inexhaustible, environmentally benign, and universally available resource.

– Hopefully the construction of ITER is not being powered by  frequently motionless windmills.
Whitelee Wind Farm, Scotland. Europe's Largest onshore windfarm.
Some AGW types want us to think small, when in fact the key to meeting future needs is to think large.  You can’t feed 10 billion people by fantasizing about the “good old days” – which never actually existed.
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TO MODERATOR: PLEASE DELETE after reading.
If you need another wind post, sometime, I was inspired to find this data and write this after the comments on the last wind topic where a few people thought Texas was our salvation. NOT.
http://nofreewind.blogspot.com/2009/05/texas-wind-doesnt-work.html
note: I have an expert that is going to review this for accuracy and also an editor for grammar.
Glenn
glenncz@gmail.com

M White

Will helium be branded a polutant?

Ellie in Belfast

Yes, we need to think big, but there are great merits in thinking small as well. The problem lies not with ‘thinking small’, but with those who think that ‘small’ is the whole answer.
For example in the biomass-to-liquid (b-t-l) field the need for large tonnages and the transport distance therefore required is (one) problem. Smaller b-t-l plants are not economic, nor as efficient, but if they were to become viable they would have huge merits for regions like my own which relies almost solely on import of energy and all the issues that brings, most notably cost and security of supply.

Chris Schoneveld

“Hopefully the construction of ITER is not being powered by frequently frequently motionless windmills.”
Most unlikely ITER is located next to the premises of Cadarache, France’s principal nuclear research facility.

Lindsay H

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tokamak
Worth a read to see how things have developed, looks like the process will be successfull in generating power within 20- 40 years in the 2000 mw range if ITER is succcessful & the DEMO machines proceed. ITER a french machine hopes to produce 500 mw of power for only 400 seconds, DEMO is supposed to be a larger scale and continuous, but its going to be decades before DEMO is built & running.
The following timetable was presented at the IAEA Fusion Energy Conference in 2004 by Prof. Sir Chris Llewellyn Smith.[2] These dates are conceptual and as such are subject to change.
Conceptual design is to be complete by 2017
Engineering design is to be complete by 2024
The first ‘Construction Phase’ is to last from 2024 to 2033
The first phase of operation is to last from 2033 to 2038
The plant is then to be expanded/updated
The second phase of operation is to last from 2040 onwards

Jack Hughes

Another good post, Steve.
Maybe it’s time for some reflection.
What we are are seeing here in the global-warming / climate change / thingy meme is several trends converging:
+ Cultural vertigo: life in developed countries is just so lovely that many people feel somehow guilty about enjoying an unprecedented standard of living.
+ Lefty trouble-makers: disappointed after the fall of the Berlin Wall and unsure where to go next so they hijack the conservation / nature movement.
+ Conservation / nature and animal lovers like the old WWF: hijacked by the new religion.
I guess the answer is to give the lefties some new cause to jump aboard and help the conservation peeps to get back to what they were good at like saving particular species that really were having a hard time like the natterjack toad etc.
I went for a walk in the hills last week with a local “Green” activist and she couldn’t name any of the trees or shrubs or small plants. My wife chuckled every time I asked – she knew I was winding her up. A black robin appeared and she was startled and puzzled. It really did seem like she had never been this close to nature before. We were all entranced – even tho’ I have seen this bird hundreds of times. Walking round you disturb small insects and the bird eats these – and follows you to get more.

John

Have you looked into the boron reactor someone was proposing, it looks like a much cheaper and more sane concept, even though there is some major hurdles to work out but instead of turning heat energy into electrons using steam turbines the concept is to capture the energy released by the boron in an electromagnetic field.
It’s a lot safer, could be completed sooner than the one in france and you can put other things in the reactor other than boron such as nuclear waste and have it turn into electrical energy and then a harmless lump of material afterwards rather than wasting 95% of the uranium potential by burying it for thousands of years.

>> large international fusion effort underway named ITER (Latin for “the way.”)
An interesting name that follows in the wake of Dan Brown’s new film ‘Angels and Daemons’ – illustrating the struggle between science and religion.
For those of you who are still perplexed, ‘The Way’ was the original name for the Church of Jesus and James (not the Church of Saul, which became Christianity).
.

Johnnyb

Fusion in 30 years? 80 years? I will either be an old man or dead.
We have fission today. Holding out this carrot of possible controlled fusion in the distant future in my belief just stall what could be today.

There is, of course, that now rather old aphorism that thermonuclear fusion is the energy supply of the future – and likely to stay that way.
But SG’s article is essentially right – sub-standard “renewables” such as wind power will never, ever meet mankind’s energy needs though they stand, in the short term, to make an awful lot of (our) money for some and give quasi-religious gratification to others.

peter_ga

ITER will be a fusion power station in that it will create an excess of power for periods of 20 minutes, IIRC. However it is unimaginable that it would be economically competitive with fission power for many decades. Also I believe fission reactors have less radioactive emissions because tritium, being hydrogen, is difficult to contain. One can only conclude that fusion is out of the picture as a major part of power generation for centuries, until concentrated ores of uranium and thorium are exhausted.
NASA should develop a fusion-powered space engine though, to build a space ship around it and blast all round the solar system exploring stuff. Chemical powered human space flight is pointless.

cedarhill

Fusion produces about 3.8 times as much energy per kilogram as fission. For uranium fission using breeder technology, if you use existing estimates of uranium and a simple extraction process from seawater then crank the numbers, we have enough uranium to supply our energy needs for a bit over 5 billion years. Then consider using thorium (about six times more plentiful than uranium) and you have a good idea how silly the AGW folks really are. For example, no one even prospects for thorium because it’s just too cheap and has no market. Fusion just makes the number even bigger.
Energy is used for everything, from cleaning up the environment, cleaning water, processing sewage, making fertilizer, growing food and surfing this site. The real issue should be how cheaply we can produce energy. You can conserve energy if that makes sense to you economically but with so much potential energy should be, well, dirt cheap.

Abitbol

ha ha ha !
It’s François Mitterrand or Jacques Chirac, you have to choose your french president !
By the way, it was François Mitterrand in 1985 who launched the project with his foreign collegues.
I hope we are buildind the future of mankind in south of France…

Allen63

The roughly $2Trillion that the administration accountants say Cap&Trade will “bring in” over the next 8 years (vs the original estimate in the 0.6Trillion range) would pay for nearly all the fission power plants the USA would ever need — and have some left over for parallel rapid development of fusion.
However, the administration only plans to spend 0.15Trillion of that 2Trillion on “green energy” (I.e. climate research and ‘windmills’). The rest will go into the “general fund” to finance other initiatives.
What I am saying is that via Cap&Trade enough money will be coming into the system to pay for all the clean energy dreams outright. Yet, they choose not to do so. Why not?

Steven Kopits

In principle, there is infinite energy. What matters, however, is what we can deliver to the tank of your car in the near to medium future.
In the oil business, a version of the peak oil narrative has become mainstream in just the last few months. You can see James Hamilton and Daniel Yergin, two of the leading industry commentators, testimony to Congress here: http://www.econbrowser.com/archives/2009/05/link_to_jec_vid.html#comments
What you’ll see is, in fact, a call for increased investment in a variety of energy sources, including oil, gas, nuclear and renewables. It is not anti-oil or coal at all, but rather concerned about our ability to deliver needed quantities at acceptable cost in a timely fashion.
At that is the central issue.

If you want chapter and verse on this, JC says he is The Way in Joh 14:6, – while Acts 24:14 explains that ‘The Way’ was a sect.
You will note that the King James Bible translates the Greek hairisis as ‘heresy’ rather than ‘sect’, but the latter is a better translation (as most other Bibles attest). And it is amusing to note that the ‘Sect of Jesus’ (The Way) has become ‘a heresy’ in the King James version. Talk about rejecting the original teachings.
Note also in the INTER logo for fusion research, that the title is superimposed upon the rising disk of the Sun. There was a great deal of the old solar cults immersed the original Church of Jesus and James, which is why JC was said to be born on Dec 25 – the birth date of Sol Invictus. This is why JC was called the ‘light of the world’ Joh 9:5.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sol_invictus
The ancient struggle between the Gnostic** (scientific) religion of Jesus and James (The Way), and the anti-science religion of Saul (Christianity) still simmers on – and not simply in films like Angels and Daemons.
** gnosis can be directly translated as ‘science’.
.

Dave Middleton

Jack Hughes (04:03:39) :
Another good post, Steve.
Maybe it’s time for some reflection.
What we are are seeing here in the global-warming / climate change / thingy meme is several trends converging:
+ Cultural vertigo: life in developed countries is just so lovely that many people feel somehow guilty about enjoying an unprecedented standard of living.
+ Lefty trouble-makers: disappointed after the fall of the Berlin Wall and unsure where to go next so they hijack the conservation / nature movement.
+ Conservation / nature and animal lovers like the old WWF: hijacked by the new religion.
I guess the answer is to give the lefties some new cause to jump aboard and help the conservation peeps to get back to what they were good at like saving particular species that really were having a hard time like the natterjack toad etc.
I went for a walk in the hills last week with a local “Green” activist and she couldn’t name any of the trees or shrubs or small plants. My wife chuckled every time I asked – she knew I was winding her up. A black robin appeared and she was startled and puzzled. It really did seem like she had never been this close to nature before. We were all entranced – even tho’ I have seen this bird hundreds of times. Walking round you disturb small insects and the bird eats these – and follows you to get more.

You can add this category to the list (it might include your “green” friend)…
+Scientific/Technological Illiteracy: Many people totally lack the basic scientific education to even understand energy issues. This effectively renders them Luddites.
In June 2008, my wife and I went to Sedona, Arizona for a week. We’re both geoscientists (in the evil oil industry)…So almost all of our vacations have a geological focus. Well, we signed up for a hot-air balloon ride. There were six passengers and the pilot in the gondola. None of the other four passengers had the slightest clue as to how a hot-air balloon worked. One of the other passengers, a banker from Massachusetts, kept referring to the propane-generated flame as “helium”. So, of the seven passengers and pilot…Only the two geoscientists and the pilot knew how the balloon worked. Funny thing…Politics also came up. The only non-Obama supporters were the two geoscientists from Texas. The pilot didn’t want McCain to win because they would have to close the airspace around Sedona every time he flew in…;)
Wind and solar are great…But they are also very limited in their usefulness – particularly solar, unless we deploy orbital solar arrays that could microwave energy back to Earth. If we sited the wind turbines and the microwave receivers together, we could cook all of the birds that were killed by the turbines.
Leaving the CO2 good/bad debate aside…The only path to carbon-free energy travels through nuclear power. And it has to start with the technology that works now: fission.
Great post, Steve!

Juraj V.

“The prospect of cheap fusion energy is the worst thing that could happen to the planet.”
– Jeremy Rifkin, Greenhouse Crisis Foundation
“Giving society cheap, abundant energy would be the equivalent of giving an idiot child a machine gun.”
– Prof Paul Ehrlich, Stanford University

anna v

Lindsay H (04:01:59) :

The following timetable was presented at the IAEA Fusion Energy Conference in 2004 by Prof. Sir Chris Llewellyn Smith.[2] These dates are conceptual and as such are subject to change.
Conceptual design is to be complete by 2017
Engineering design is to be complete by 2024
The first ‘Construction Phase’ is to last from 2024 to 2033
The first phase of operation is to last from 2033 to 2038
The plant is then to be expanded/updated
The second phase of operation is to last from 2040 onwards

The above timetable contradicts the official ITER time diagram, which is shown above btw with the correct link.
Maybe you are misremembering? Could you be remembering the DEMO?
http://www.iter.org/proj/Pages/ITERAndBeyond.aspx
And certainly it is not a french machine only. ITER is a world collaboration, and France won the location choice by offering the site close to the nuclear reactor and more central than Japan and with easier access to port than Spain ( the other contestants).

bill

Electricity requirements for the ITER plant and facilities will range from 110 MW to up to 620 MW for peak periods of 30 seconds during plasma operation. Power will be provided through the 400 kV circuit that already supplies the nearby CEA Cadarache site – a one-kilometre extension will be enough to link the ITER plant into the network.
Achievements like these have led fusion science to an exciting threshold: the long sought-after plasma energy breakeven point. Breakeven describes the moment when plasmas in a fusion device release as least as much energy as is required to produce them. Plasma energy breakeven has never been achieved: the current record for energy release is held by JET, which succeeded in generating 70% of input power. Scientists have now designed the next-step device – ITER – which will produce more power than it consumes: for 50 MW of input power, 500 MW of output power will be produced.
—————-
If it’s safe, If it’s controllable it will be good. If it ever happens – it has been a long time coming. But will it arrive in time?

Ron de Haan

Thanks for the article Steven.
The point is that the Alarmism Movement initiated by the Club of Rome and the United Nations do not intend to feed 10 billion people.
http://icecap.us/images/uploads/GlobalWarmingMyth.pdf

Think big indeed, billions of small sunshades in orbit around Earth, i just saw it again on Discovery. Nice idea but completely out of reality and not even for the fact that we don’t need such a sunshade. As they stated, if they are going to use rockets than they would have to launch a rocket every 20 minutes for at least 6.5 years to get that sunshade up.
The best rockets we have score a 97% succes rate (wich was nicely demonstrated in the program, the test rocket that only was supposed to simulate a launch failed because the seccond stage ignited two secconds late, that was just one of the 1300 things that could go wrong during a launch), guess how many launches will fail during the construction of that sunshade?
±5200 failed launches at minimum for those 6.5 years if we take 97% as granted. All those rockets with their toxic fuels and so on, al that schrapnell and debris in orbit (and that does not include those launches who are succesfull, because even those tend to leave debris behind).
Call me sceptic but i see more in fourth generation nuclear powerplants and eventually fusion-power (wich always seems to be 50 years away).

Noelene

Until the call for windmills and solar came along,man had not gone backwards,good to see some trying to go forward.Man will find a way,he always has,there may come a day that man can harness energy from space,who knows?The possibilities are endless.It must suck to be a scientist,knowing that there is still so much to discover.

The news clips this morning showed the increased holiday traffic this year to last. The people and business’s seemed quite happy that America is getting out and driving again. Not everyone is happy. Hansen, the lead IPCC scientist, would describe this traffic as the Automobiles of DEATH. (google coal trains of death, he is deadly serious!).
Right now in Congress there is the Cap/Trade bill whose sole purpose is to take us common folk so that driving for fun becomes uneconomical. Once again our political leaders, urged on by the strong lobbyists of special interest groups, are creating an additional tax which will increase the cost of every bit of real energy we consume. Of course they won’t be taxing energy which is already expensive, the renewable energies. (often energy NOTS!)

A rather content-free of article about ultra dense deuterium is at http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/05/090511181356.htm . Their claim is that they have produced deuterium with a density of, umm “Imagine a material so heavy that a cube with sides of length 10 cm weights 130 tonnes, a material whose density is significantly greater than the material in the core of the Sun,” i.e. 130 x 10^6g/10^3 cm^3, or 130,000 gm/cm^3.
(No, don’t ask me why a web site with the word “science” in the URL doesn’t expect readers to know what density is.)
They can only make microscopic amounts, they don’t say how, but are looking at it as feed stock for laser inertial confinement fusion.
I wonder if muon catalysis can compress it further (muons are a lot like electrons only heavier).

RW

“A favorite excuse to push the AGW agenda is that “energy is limited, so we have to preserve it for future generations.””
First of all, what is the “AGW agenda”? And second, I have never heard anyone say anything of this kind. Who do you have in mind?

anna v

bill (04:53:28) :
If it’s safe, If it’s controllable it will be good. If it ever happens – it has been a long time coming. But will it arrive in time?
It is safer than your car engine, and if it were not for the stringiness of the governments involved it would have been here already.
IMO there are two things wrong with ITER.
1)The aforementioned stinginess. You cannot make omelet without breaking eggs
2)The organization’s framework that comes because of 1).
Instead choosing a world team of the best scientists and fund them to hire and oversee the best engineers and scientists, parsimony has created an organization with much less than necessary personnel for such an ambitious project, the rest being supplied by the laboratories and universities of the involved countries on a volunteer basis. This means that not the best people are at the crucial and non crucial jobs. Thus things take longer by a factor of pi, as we used to say.
ITER could have already been ready with better funding.
CERN was successfully launched back in the 1950s on the excellence principle: the directors were financed by a fixed amount from each country and results were expected. Laboratories and universities contributed by doing experiments, not by building the machine as is happening at ITER and even now at CERN, on the ubiquitous parsimony principle. A false economy on such projects. I have not read this anywhere, but I am sure that the recent ( last autumn) accident and consequent delay in the LHC construction at CERN was due to this Parsimony Principle.

theBuckWheat

Not only is unlimited energy available via nuclear reaction, the earth is literally awash in hydrocarbons that can be converted into suitable liquid fuels.
One company woking on a successful conversion processes has estimated that the amount of hydrocarbons in US sewage sludge, if converted into liquid fuels, could totally eliminate oil imports.
On the quantity of methane hydrates, the USGS states: “The worldwide amounts of carbon bound in gas hydrates is conservatively estimated to total twice the amount of carbon to be found in all known fossil fuels on Earth.”
(google “usgs methane hydrate”, look for USGS Fact Sheet)

jsuther2013

There is fission fuel enough for at least hundreds of thousands of years with fast breeding and reprocessing, as my papers at this site show.
http://www.energypulse.net/centers/author.cfm?at_id=283
http://www.energycentral.com/reference/whitepapers/102136/The-Nuclear-Reactor-Closed-Cycle
http://www.energycentral.com/reference/whitepapers/102137/Nuclear-Reactor-Overview-and-Nuclear-Cycles
It may take much longer than we think to get to commercial fusion power.

SSSailor

The “green” of our planet has a black root, aka; fossil fuel. Homo Sap is only one of many enablers in the conversion process. The life span of our species does not mesh well with the cycle span of the conversion process.
We humans do not create anything but, merely manipulate that which exists. It is heartening to know that we (humans) are finally attempting to manipulate that which is truly of survival value.
Thank you Steven Goddard for the good news.

Oh boy – the old Fusion thing coming to our rescue! I have wished before that this blog could stay within the realms of climate science – where it is absolutely brilliant, and steer away from energy policy and political commentary – where it most commentators are downright naive and reactionary.
In 1978 I set up a small independent research group in Oxford – and we focussed out efforts mostly on the huge environmental problems created by nuclear waste from the fission programmes around the world – Britain, the US, the USSR and France were the chief culprits with all manner of problems – with a great deal of secrecy. We were also mindful of our responsibility as critics to provide some non-nuclear solutions. We were joined by a doctorate mathematician (Balliol, Oxford) who left the Fusion programme at Culham to focus on alternatives. Fusion is not clean. It is hugely expensive, requires the same level of elite social control and centralised grids and is irrelevant as a power source for 2/3rd of humanity. Our expert – Dr Gordon Thompson eventually was poached by Princeton, and there-after he set up the independent Institute for Resource and Security Studies (IRSS). I recall his reason for leaving Culham and the Fusion programme – he said it had become a cult, a solar-worshipping religious and technological sect capable of gaining huge funds and support but would never be able to deliver anything relevant to the mass of humanity. That was 30 years ago, and little has changed.
Please, oh please, all you commentators with technical fixes, reflect on the elements of beauty, grace, community and spirit that really mark out humanity as special – and then on what sustainability really means – because if we don’t sustain those elements of our humanity, what is survival really worth. Life in the ‘developed’ world is not beautiful nor sustainable for at least one-third of its members, and two-thirds of the ‘developing world’ will never benefit from the current ‘development’ model and simply see their own community and beauty destroyed in the process.
The answers are not simply technical. And much of the technology proposed perpetuates elitist survivalism.
I currently have few allies among the environmentalists I have worked with for over three decades – because they have bought into the ‘global warming’ bollocks – but they did so because, at first, they genuinely believed humanity was imperilled. Later, a kind of corporate-creep took over, and they lost their critical faculties and have been taken over by zealots who – as one commentator rightly observed, have little real contact with the living world and its incredible diversity – nor do they represent communities and the aspirations of those who have little material wealth.
But is does not serve anyone’s cause to belittle, to name call, to impugn integrity, and do indulge in naive descriptions of social sectors such as ‘lefties’ and green ‘nazis’ any more than when the AGW lobby denigrates ‘deniers’ and ‘sceptics’.

Stephen Parrish

Fusion research has produced one clear success, they have found a constant.
In Excel:
today() + constant = Date of Commercial Fusion
Where constant = 30y.
Leastways when I completed my NE BS and MS degrees 17y ago it was 30y away.

The idea of fusion as a reliable, infinite energy source is grand, but it is just a dream. The reality is that two difficulties must be overcome: first, a magnetic bottle cannot be continuously fed raw material, nor have products removed; second, materials of construction disintegrate or melt at fusion temperatures.
“There seem to be insurmountable difficulties in finding materials of construction that will not melt or evaporate at the very high temperatures obtained in a fusion reaction. Magnetic pinch bottles were used [in the 1980’s], and perhaps still are, to squeeze plasma until it begins the fusion process. Even if that fusion process is someday sustainable (they were thrilled at achieving fusion temperature for a fraction of a second), melt-down is a very real problem.
There were two fundamental problems to overcome, the first being how to sustain the fusion reaction, the second how to keep the thing from melting. Sustaining the fusion reaction required a magnetic bottle with an inlet for fresh fuel, and an outlet for the reaction products. The nature of a magnetic bottle does not allow for inlets or outlets, at least at that time. There may have been advances since then, I do not know.
Then, finding a way to do something useful with the heat without melting the reactor is a bit of a problem. The materials science professors and researchers were having quite a bit of difficulty with that one. It had something to do with the energy of inter-atomic bonding, under which everything they tried disintegrated at those temperatures.
It is a very good thing that the sun is so very far away from Earth.
Therefore, unless some amazing breakthroughs in magnetic bottles and heat-resistant materials have occurred, or will occur, fusion is off the list of energy providers.”
— Roger E. Sowell, May 18, 2009
So, does anyone have answers to those fundamental problems? Have materials scientists invented Indestructium? How does one add material and take away products from a magnetic bottle while fusion occurs?

In addition to hot fusion, cold fusion refuses to go away. (People are trying to call it LENR, Low Energy Nuclear Reaction, since researchers generally don’t chill the experiments.) In a rather disappointing article from Science News, http://sciencenews.org/view/feature/id/41220/title/Cold_Panacea , the many commenters make up for it and include people actively involved with current research, and some have been involved since Pons & Fleischmann days.
If that article require login, the major links in it are to http://lenr-canr.org/ and http://newenergytimes.com/
If hot fusion continues to promise commercialization in the next 30 years (they’ve been saying that for 40 years now), cold fusion certainly deserves as much attention!
BTW, the most bizarre suggestion in the LENR arena is one that suggests muons from cosmic rays may help trigger fusion reactions. So perhaps cold fusion works best during a cooling climate. 🙂

Note to moderators – I just posted something on cold fusion, but don’t see it in the “pending” state. If that means the spam filter gobbled it, please rescue it for me, thanks. (It was a short post with three URLs, spam fodder, if I understand correctly.)

Jeremy

Steven Kopits (04:35:31) :
I read the Econobrowser regularly. Dr Hamilton is what they call an “old-school” professor and the reading on Econobrowser is highly intelligent and interesting – no hype, no bull and no agenda (at least from James). James always places caveats around any assumptions or projections. Finding ‘old-school’ professors is hard these days. Econobrowser is to Economics what WUWT is to climate science. Lots of science and theory but dished out with a healthy dose of humility – that is with out the pretense or certainty of having resolved all the answers to everything.

Jon Jewett

anna v (06:07:56) :
Some good points, but I have a personal quibble.
The metaphor “You can’t make an omelet without breaking eggs” was published in the New York Times newspaper (byline: Walter Duranty) in the 1930s. It was used to justify the killing of an estimated 10 million people as necessary for the creation of a Socialist Utopia in the Fatherland of the Proletariat (i.e. the Soviet Union.).
It carries negative connotations, especially to Ukrainians.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holodomor
http://newsbusters.org/node/2886/print
Regards,
Steamboat Jack

Christian Bultmann

Does that mean in the future we will starve countless plant species out of much needed CO2 driving them to extinction?
The unprecedented drop in CO2, maintained in the past by burning fossil fuels, in the atmosphere will bring on the next ice age much sooner than expected.
The negative feedback of the cooling oceans absorbing any remaining CO2 will turn earth into an ice ball much like Jupiter’s moon Europa.

Douglas DC

Scarcity is the mother’s milk of panic.If there is no want there is no panic.Freedom scares the daylights out of Bureaucrats. I heard a critic of the new “Star Trek” film say it
was -“too abashedly pro-development.” and,”too optimistic”.
I say: “Engage!” or, simply ,from another era:”Light the candle!”…

Ray

Abitbol (04:28:00) :
I hope we are buildind the future of mankind in south of France…
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A wine powered reactor, yeah!!! I always new the future was based on wine.
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I drove past the place last Christmas, nice complex.

Windmills beginning to fall by the spears of WUWT Don Antonio Quixote!
There is another portable source of energy:This patented generator is a solid-state generator which uses the nuclear resonant ferromagnetic effect in a cylindrical rod of iron(56). This effect has been named by the inventors the “isotopic mutation effect”.
http://jnaudin.free.fr/html/mmcgen.htm

MartinGAtkins

O’boy would I like to fit one of those beasts under the hood of my ute.

Frank Ravizza

Another technique for generating energy via nuclear fusion is Laser Inertial Fusion Energy (LIFE). LIFE uses powerful lasers to compress the fusion fuel, composed of isotopes of hydrogen to produce fusion. LIFE is not only about fusion, it’s a hybrid reactor combining fission and fusion. The neutrons given off during the fusion process are used to drive sub-critical nuclear fission of low grade fission material lining the interior wall of the reactor. Nearly all of the fission fuel is burned up in a LIFE reactor. There is tremendous amount of fuel stored as spent nuclear waste at conventional fission reactor through-out the world.
Read more here:
https://lasers.llnl.gov/missions/energy_for_the_future/life/

Stephen Goldstein

Stephen Parrish
“Leastways when I completed my NE BS and MS degrees 17y ago it was 30y away.”
Think there’s been some backsliding here . . . .
When I completed my BS in Physics 42 years ago, it was 25y away.

Chris D.

R. Nebel has said that we’ll know within 1.5-2 years whether Polywell fusion is a bust or boon. Beyond that, 6 or so years to having a demonstration reactor. It’s might be a long shot, but still one can hope.
http://www.talk-polywell.org/bb/index.php
http://www.talk-polywell.org/bb/viewtopic.php?t=1283

E.M.Smith

anna v (04:49:14) : and with easier access to port than Spain
Well, I like Spanish Port more than French, but there is something to be said for easier access, Hic! 😎

Forgive me for again being a skeptic(!), but, since this is a government-run project, it’s likely the timeline projections and cost will both at least double before this becomes reality, if it does.

rbateman

Speaking of that same constant, I met a phsycist some -constant- years ago who was working on the mathematical equations for the magnetic field to hold the plasma. The problem, as he stated it, was that at fusion temps, the magnetic fields would break down, and the reaction was ended as the plasma fell from fusion temperature (i.e. – containment was lost).
Did ITER solve this yet?

BarryW

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. — Arthur C. Clarke
Unfortunately for most people this includes all present technology.

E.M.Smith

Stephen Parrish (07:07:51) : Where constant = 30y.
Leastways when I completed my NE BS and MS degrees 17y ago it was 30y away.

Well, at least they have improved the precision if not the accuracy (a common trend these days)… In the mid ’70s (about 40 years ago) it was 30-50 years away …
While I have great hope for fusion “Hope is not a strategy”. Some issues:
1) It’s always 30 years and a few hundred $Billion of R&D away.
2) Those pesky “n” particles. How can it be lacking in radiation and ‘clean’ with all those energetic neutrons whacking the vessel walls?
3) How to get the net energy out of the plasma in enough excess to overcome the losses in the REST of the system to make net e- in the wires?
4) Lithium is not exactly an abundant resource. Not particularly unavailable, but you start burning it as fuel and, well, the price is going to go up. Way up. A lot. (It comes from old dry desert lake beds in places like Chile and Nevada.) This will change your profit projections. A lot. I know of all of two producers: FMC and SQM (I own SQM) They are trying to figure out how to deal with the e-car demand for batteries…
So count me with the folks who expect us to be using fission for the next 100+ years to actually make electricity.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not anti-fusion. It ought to be funded full tilt so that as Anna V. put it they could employ “the best engineers and scientists” (I’d even go so far as asserting they ought to do that and fund some of the less center stage folks with slightly more odd ideas too… )
http://chiefio.wordpress.com/2009/03/09/mr-fusion/
It’s just that being much closer to the end of my life than the beginning and having had the fusion carrot “just 30 years away” for all of the time that the fusion concept has existed – well, lets just say this particular donkey is not interested in trying to reach that carrot on a stick quite so much any more … Some other mule gets to it, well, then I’ll mosey over and share lunch… Until then, this fission hay pile is just fine…