How Cold Fusion will Affect Various Business Sectors
So how would a successful cold fusion or low energy nuclear reaction (LENR) device affect various sectors of business? Obviously the availability of a source of large amounts of cheap (not free) energy that doesn’t require a large transportation infrastructure as present sources like fossil fuels do will be profound. Let’s take a look and please remember the projections here are entirely speculative in nature.
Electric Power: The main effect on the electric industry would be to reduce prices for electricity because LENR does not require vast amounts of fossil fuels or any sort of transportation infrastructure. One big effect will be that many businesses and institutions will be able to disconnect from the grid completely. Another is that will be easier to set up new power plants to compete with the existing infrastructure. Utilities will see reduced costs but more competition which should keep rates low for all users.
Coal Mining: Coal mining which exists to supply power plants would be devastated because its main customers will switch to something cheaper. The situation will be made worse for coal miners because many governments would simply ban coal burning once LENR became available on a wide scale in order to eliminate air pollution and reduce global warming. Expect to see the coal industry and coal dependent economies such as that in West Virginia collapse. An interesting side effect might be that coal will be used for something else perhaps to make plastics out of.
Railroads: These will be hit hard because hauling coal is one of their main sources of revenue. Yet railroads will benefit because LENR will make large amounts of electricity available to them. That will mean cheaper operating costs from more electrification. At some point steam or turbine powered LENR locomotives might appear further reducing transportation costs.
Airlines: The effect here is harder to see because not everybody thinks LENR powered airplanes are possible although NASA does. One result might be larger airliners that can fly further and stay in the air longer. Giant LENR powered aircraft could be used to haul freight or passengers. Reduced operating costs and ticket prices might be the ultimate result.
Retail: The giant big box stores favored by companies like Wal-Mart cost a fortune to heat and light. LENR would reduce their operating costs. One result might be that companies like Wal-Mart and Target build LENR power plants at each store. That would give them a steady source of power and heat at a lower cost. Naturally LENR would lead to lower manufacturing prices which would mean lower prices at the cash register for the average consumer.
Manufacturing: Cold fusion could reduce manufacturing costs in two important ways. First it could provide the heat for a wide variety of manufacturing processes including those used in the chemical, plastics, food processes, smelting, cement, steel, pharmaceuticals and many other industries. Second it would make cheaper electricity available. Both of these developments would greatly reduce manufacturing costs which would reduce the prices of numerous products for consumers.
Mining: Even though LENR would hurt coal mining it would make mining for metals cheaper because it would provide vast amounts of power for mines. Many new areas would be accessible for mining because no connection would be needed to the grid to power mines. Obviously mining costs would go down and drive down materials prices which would make the price of many manufactured products cheaper.
Data Centers: The internet and the cloud run on giant data centers which are massive users of electricity. If these could be powered by LENR the savings would be enormous. Internet service will get cheaper and more available. More importantly a massive drain on the grid will be eliminated which will reduce electric rates for average people. More data centers would expand the size and capability of the net.
Shipping: The major expense in shipping whether it is on the rail or seas is energy in the form of fuel. LENR would reduce shipping costs because it would be a simple matter to power ships with it. Ships wouldn’t have to refuel so they could spend more time hauling freight. Ships would be able to haul more cargo because they wouldn’t have the added weight of fuel. Larger ships will be available. Ships including cruise ships that stay at sea almost all the time might be possible as well because they wouldn’t have to refuel. Reduced shipping costs will mean lower costs for many products.
Wireless Cloud: LENR could be used to power cell phone towers in remote areas expanding the network to even the most remote areas. That means it will be possible for smartphones to reach poorer people and those in more remote areas.
Waste Disposal: Cold fusion could revolutionize waste disposal because it could be used to completely to destroy a wide variety of wastes including many that now need special disposal. New waste disposal technologies make it possible to destroy vast amounts of waste without generating any air pollution. The costs of shipping waste to landfills and other sites will be eliminated. Many pollution problems including medical waste, chemical waste and nuclear waste could be completely eliminated. The cost of waste disposal could be significantly lowered which could lower costs in many industries including manufacturing and retail.
Natural Gas: Natural gas and liquefied natural gas (LNG) are widely used as heating fuels and to generate electricity. Obviously LENR would reduce the demand for these and for expensive attempts to get them such as deepwater drilling. It would eliminate the need for fracking as well. One benefit of LENR is that LNG or natural gas could be converted into plastics or fertilizer instead of burned as fuel. So the price of those commodities could fall.
Automobiles: cold fusion could be used to power cars in two ways. First it could be used to generate electricity for electric vehicles. The problem here is recharging which could be solved by wireless electricity. Another potential solution would be to use cold fusion to make steam for steam driven cars. Steam cars can be just as fast as internal combustion engine cars and quieter. Other technology that might be harnessed to drive cars with LENR includes turbines and Stirling engines which can run on hot air.
Heating: a final use of cold fusion or at least a potential use is to generate large amounts of heat for central heating systems for large buildings or for entire neighborhoods. In some European and American cities steam plants heat the entire community. Such plans could easily be adapted to run on steam.
- Big planes
- big airplanes