The world’s appetite for electricity is about to increase dramatically. Tesla is planning to unveil an electric semi-truck as early as September and Volkswagen is planning a vast network of filling stations for electric cars in the United States.
“Tesla Semi truck unveil set for September,” Elon Musk tweeted on April 13. “Team has done an amazing job. Seriously next level.”
Volkswagen is planning to spend $2 billion build a network of 2,500 charging stations for electric cars, Seeking Alpha contributor Anton Wahlman reported. There will be one supercharger every 66 miles across the United States. The idea is to compete with Tesla’s fast growing network of superchargers.
Tesla currently has around 790 super chargers and 4,148 standalone charging sites for electric cars. Another company, Chargepoint is operating 34,156 charging locations for electric vehicles.
If that was not enough VW just unveiled an electric sport utility vehicle (SUV) called the Crozz at the Shanghai Auto Show. The Crozz is an all-electric crossover that is supposed to go on sale in 2020 and compete with Tesla’s Model Y.
Many people are confused by the difference between hot and cold fusion and it is easy to see why. Both terms are vague catch all phrases for complex phenomena.
Hot fusion would use superhot plasma to generate incredibly high temperatures to make energy. The plasma in some fusion reactors is incredibly hot up to 100 million degrees Celsius. It’s a difficult process, right now scientists know how to make the plasma but not how to contain or control it. The fuel would be so hot that it would instantly burn through the walls of the reactor.
That means magnetic fields have to be used to contain the plasma. Generating those fields will be the tricky and expensive part. The magnets in the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) in France weight almost as a 747 between 10 and 20 tons, Popular Mechanics reported. The ITER project itself is projected to cost $18 billion (€17.05 billion) to complete.
The gigantic European aircraft manufacturer Airbus has filed two more U.S. patent applications for low energy nuclear reaction (LENR) processes.
U.S. Patent application 20170025191 filed on March 15, 2016, is for a “Material arrangement for fusion reactor and method for producing the same.” It mentions “A material arrangement for a fusion reactor comprising at least one material which is configured as a foam-like carrier material for condensable binding and fusing of hydrogen.”
That sure sounds like LENR or cold fusion to me. The process was invented by Bernhard Kotzias of Bremen, Germany. The material described might be something like Andrea Rossi’s “secret sauce” the catalyst that supposedly makes his e-cat LENR device work.
U.S. Patent Application: 20170022055 was for a “METHOD AND APPARATUS FOR GENERATING AND FOR FUSING ULTRA-DENSE HYDROGEN.” It too was invented by Bernhard Kotzias. That too sounds like some sort of LENR utilizing hydrogen; most of the LENR devices such as the ecat and the Brillouin Hot Rube utilize nickel and hydrogen.
Bill Gates is organizing a $1 billion fund that will invest in fusion and other clean energy technology. Breakthrough Energy Ventures (BEV) has the backing of some of the world’s richest people; and it might invest in cold fusion or low energy nuclear reaction (LENR).
Gates will serve as chairman of the fund which is designed to commercialize clean-energy technologies to combat climate change, Market Mad House reported. In the press coverage Gates did not discuss LENR but he did say something interesting.
“Anything that leads to cheap, clean, reliable energy we’re open-minded to,” Gates said. Gates himself was careful not to name any specific technologies but he has invested in hot fusion and nuclear fission research in the past. Gates has pledged to invest $1 billion of his own money in such research in the past.
BEV is the work of the Breakthrough Energy Coalition, a league of the super-rich dedicated to fighting climate change with clean energy. Bill Gates is the leader and organizer of the effort.
Donald J. Trump’s upset victory in the U.S. Presidential election will have little or no effect on either hot or cold fusion.
Under the U.S. Constitution the President has little or no influence over science and technology research because he or she does not write the budget. Congress; especially the House of Representatives, writes the budget which means it supplies the money.
President Trump would have the power to issue an executive order halting; or stepping up, low energy nuclear reaction (LENR) or hot fusion research. Yet that order would be a meaningless piece of paper because Congress would supply the money for the actual research and development.
Trump’s party, the Republicans has control over Congress, but Trump actually has very little control over Republican Senators and Representatives. Instead all he can do is suggest legislation to them and sign it – if it ever reaches his desk.
Germany might become the first of the major powers to abolish use of the internal combustion engine. The Bundesrat; an upper house of Germany’s parliament that represents state governments recommended that the country get rid of diesel and gasoline-powered vehicles by 2030.
The action is not binding but it is surprising and important because Germany is the nation where the internal combustion engine and the automobile were invented. Carl Benz patented a gasoline engine in the country in 1879 and a gas-burning automobile in 1886. The company he founded Benz, still exists as Mercedes Benz, part of Daimler AG, one of Germany’s big three automobile makers.
Autos are big business in Germany; Volkswagen, Daimler and BMW are three of the most important companies in the country. All three are leaders in the drive to put electric-powered cars on the road.
If Germany were to go electric it would certainly provide impetus for other nations like the United States to follow. This move also makes research into next generation power sources like low energy nuclear reaction even more important.
It will be hard for a lot of people to believe but energy prices around the globe are in freefall. Some types of crude oil are now so worthless that producers in the United States are paying to have them hauled away.
Oil prices are collapsing because the only way that countries like Saudi Arabia, Russia, Venezuela and Iran can pay their bills is to sell off oil at whatever price they can get. This has effectively broken the back of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries or OPEC - the cartel of oil-pumping countries that once had a stranglehold on the world’s economy.
One reason why OPEC has lost its power is that countries outside such as Russia and the United States can now export as much or more oil than it can. Even if OPEC raises the price all America or Russia needs to do to pull the rug out from under it is to turn up the pump and flood the market with cheap oil.
Andrea Rossi’s Leonardo Corporation has received a United States Patent that could cover his Ecat low energy nuclear reaction (LENR). Interestingly enough the patent US 9,115,913 B1 dated August 25, 2015, does not mention LENR, cold fusion or the words Ecat or energy catalyzer.
Instead it is for a device called a Fluid Heater. Andrea Rossi is listed as the inventor and his company Leonardo Corporation is listed as the assignee or owner. The Fluid Heater is described as:
“An apparatus for heating fluid includes a tank for holding fluid to be heated, and a fuel wafer in fluid communication with the fluid. The fuel wafer includes a fuel mixture including reagents and a catalyst, and an electrical resistor or other heat source in thermal communication with the fuel mixture and the catalyst.”
The landscape in the world of energy is changing faster than we might expect. Low oil prices forced Saudi Arabia to borrow $4 billion over the last year, CNBC reported. The oil rich kingdom had to borrow the money to cover a budget deficit that was larger than expected.
It is not known how large Saudi Arabia’s deficit is but unknown analysts quoted by CBNC estimated the Saudi deficit at $130 billion. Saudi Arabia is still very rich though it still has cash reserves of around $737 billion. Some experts think Saudi Arabia will have to start cutting spending because it simply cannot finance its lavish economy with $58 a barrel oil. The Saudis would need $105 a barrel oil to cover all their costs.