Energy

Australia and China Collaborate on Fusion

Australia National University (ANU) and the University of South China have embarked upon a major hot fusion research effort.

ANU will ship the H1 Heliac stellerator from its Australian Plasma Fusion Research Facility to China later this year. The device is currently kept in Canberra, Australia’s capitol. Once in China it will be the first stellerator in the People’s Republic. China has four Tokamaks but no stellerators, the facility’s director Dr. Cormac Corr told The Canberra Times. There is also some LENR or cold fusion research going on at the China Institute of Atomic Power in Beijing.

The H1 Heliac Stellerator

A stellerator is a weird shaped fusion reactor that uses magnetic fields to contain superhot plasma. The most advanced stellerator the Wendelstein 7-X in Germany is now up and running and making plasma.

The strange shape in a stellerator makes it easier to contain the plasma. It also makes such devices the but of jokes. The Wendelstein 7-X bears a strong resemblance to Han Solo’s Millennium Falcon.

Hot Fusion Heats Up

Hot fusion might be closer to reality than some of its critics think, but still facing some problems News stories indicate that two important hot fusion milestones might be achieved in the near future.

The International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) in France is scheduled to begin generating hot plasma by December 2025, Wall Street Pit reported. Plasma is the super-hot liquid that makes fusion possible. The ITER is an $18 billion (€17.05 billion) multinational effort to prove that the Tokamak fusion reactor is a practical means of producing power.

The December 2025 date is not set in stone, there’s a strong possibility that the ITER might start producing plasma much sooner. Its administrators might be using the old public relations and customer service strategy of under-promise and over-deliver.

They might think the ITER can produce hot plasma much sooner but they are not sure. Therefore they mention a date that’s several years out, so if the reactor starts producing lasma in 2019 it will be pleasant surprise rather than a disappointment.

Tesla Plans Electric Semi-Truck, Electric Cars Spreading Fast

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.

Plasma is the Key to Hot Fusion

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.

Airbus files for LENR Patents, Tesla builds Battery Farms

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’ League of Billionaires will spend $1 Billion on Energy Research

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.

Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos, back when Jeff had hair.

“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.

Trump Victory will have little or no Effect on Fusion

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.

Germans want to Abolish Internal Combustion Engine

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 Bundesrat

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.

Energy Prices Collapse, World in Chaos

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.

Is Green Energy Bad for the Environment?

Two recent and largely ignored news stores are raising the prospect that so called “green energy” might actually be bad for the environment. To make matters worse policy makers seem to be ignoring the important conclusions these articles point to when they discuss alternatives to windmills and solar such as Low Energy Nuclear Reaction (LENR).

Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System

Both wind mills and some solar energy projects kill large numbers of birds including some endangered species such as eagles, the well-respected American publication High Country News reported. The Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System which uses mirrors to heat water to run an electric turbine in California’s Mohave Desert literally burned up hundreds of birds.

The birds seeing reflections from the mirrors at the solar plant flew down to them and got fried by concentrated beams of heat or solar flux generated by the mirrors. The birds were flying down to the mirrors because they mistook the reflections for water.