As stated in the sidebar to my blog at gapatton.net, which republishes automatically on Facebook (though it's often much delayed), I am trying to develop a daily discipline of reflecting upon the world in which we live (or more precisely, the "worlds" in which we live, one of those worlds being a world we create ourselves).
I used to debate with my father about whether or not things were "different" now from when he was young. My contention was always that "our times" were different. He said that things were just the same as ever. According to my Dad, things were always this way (always this bad, in other words).
I am, by nature, a catastrophist. I still think things are different now, and worse now than they were when my father was a young man, and that we are likely to see (and maybe even create) some huge and transforming changes (and horrible changes) in the world we inhabit. History really is a story, and all stories have an end, and don't go on forever. And if we're not getting towards the end of the story itself, we must, at the very least, be pushing the end of a chapter.
According to the way I see it, there are realities beyond our control (the world of Nature I call it), even though we like to pretend otherwise. When we persist in disregarding our ultimate dependence upon the natural world (and boy are we doing that!), we put our own world, the human world, in peril.
To my mind, getting out of the box of our obliviousness about our real situation is going to require not only some rather revolutionary actions, but also some rather revolutionary thinking. And time is short. That' s why, when I'm done posting to my blog at gapatton.net, I almost always hit the "Next Blog" arrow at the left hand side of the ribbon across the top. (To do this, of course, you need to be on the "real" blog, and not on Facebook). It's amazing and heartening to find out what a wealth of art, ideas, and communications are available to inspire us.
To keep ourselves going, I think we should probably all be hitting that "Next Blog" button more frequently - and paying attention to what we find!
Saturday, May 29, 2010
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Inexpensive energy is what has made our country prosper. But all of our incentive efforts are aimed at developing ever more expensive sources of energy, many of which will never repay the investment that has been made in them for they are known to be impractical in terms of energy efficiency, energy availability, or demand load requirements.ReplyDelete
To be real about what is needed to meet the energy crisis, one only needs to step back and look at where we have been. Wind, solar, and biomass have many problems becoming the base load for the 14 TW needed by 2050. The world cannot afford the CO2 load in the atmosphere from fossil fuel that is expected to be used in the next 20-30 years.
So what is the alternative? Fusion, but not as we have been currently lead to believe to gain energy. (Laser fusion is a spoof, magnetic confinement needs a magic material for protection and plasmas are squirrely – uncontrollable.)
Fusion is an energy source that has been known and generally understood by scientists for more than 5 decades. Fusion requires tremendous heat and compression for its ignition. It takes energy to provide this heat and compression and the energy one gets in return must be large enough to assure that more energy is created than the amount it took to initiate the reaction. The H bomb resulted from a small trigger yielding more than 1000 times as much yield. But controlled releases are also possible at much smaller levels that still put out 100 times as much energy as is consumed.
A controlled process to do this was defined in the 1970s by Argonne National Laboratory (ANL). But are we supporting research in these processes now? No, not one single federal dollar is directed to these promising avenues of achieving fusion through RF accelerator driven fusion reactions as researched in the 1970s by ANL. Why? The research was done in a weapons lab by the DOD and it can not be a weapon. And because the energy industry is built on the delivery of about 1GW at a location. Fusion requires the delivery of more than 10 Gigawatts of energy from one site to become economic and the driver is thought to be too expensive and cannot be made smaller. In the 1970s this decision may have been wise for the US had no need for large new sources of clean energy at the time. But now, we have an urgent need to replace a significant amount of our dirty base load facilities with sources that do not emit CO2 or other harmful products and do not go critical.
Fusion comes in many flavors, from the impractical systems that produce less energy than they consume, to the ones that produce massive amounts of radiation due to their failure to adequately shield the system from the neutrons generated by the Deuterium-Tritium fusion reaction. Only one system has repeatedly received the endorsement of hundreds of scientists and that is a system that uses a large RF (radio frequency) accelerator to provide the energy to drive the fusion reaction. It would produce no climate altering CO2 and, since all the research has been done, it could be online in about a decade.
RF accelerator driven fusion should be our showcase national energy project, but this process seems to be totally unknown. It does not have the support of the US Department of Energy and thus is unknown to politicians.
Politicians need to understand that RF accelerator driven fusion is a viable option for the replacement of fossil fuel for energy generation, now.
RF accelerator driven fusion is a technique that has been endorsed by leading scientists throughout the world for the past 35 years and it is time it was implemented.
Thanks for this comment. I must confess that I am totally uninformed about the fusion energy system you discuss - and I don't think I am alone in that! I would definitely like to see more information made available(and more discussion to go along with it).ReplyDelete