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General => General Chat => Topic started by: NiHaoMike on March 17, 2011, 02:07:32 am

Title: The future of energy
Post by: NiHaoMike on March 17, 2011, 02:07:32 am
Given the ongoing nuclear catastrophe in Japan, Americans (among others) are becoming even more afraid of nuclear power. So now, it's time to look at other alternatives. (For the record, I still support nuclear power, as long as it is safe. It's just that too many uninformed Americans are terrified by it now.)

I think a combination of solar, wind, and hydroelectric power are some good alternatives to look at. Solar and small scale wind power can be installed right at home. Hydroelectric power is very reliable and has built in energy storage to compensate for the varying output of wind and solar. Buildings should start becoming interactive parts of the grid as opposed to just dumb loads. And of course, Americans really need to actually think about saving energy. Making the price of energy progressive (costing more per unit for increasing use) would be a great way to encourage conservation.
Title: Re: The future of energy
Post by: EEVblog on March 17, 2011, 02:14:46 am
Oz could go 100% renewable by 2020, all it takes is money and someone with the balls to actually do it.

http://www.beyondzeroemissions.org/ (http://www.beyondzeroemissions.org/)

Unfortunately that person does not exists, because the government is run by politicians who only think about the next election and their lifetime retirement pension.

Dave.
Title: Re: The future of energy
Post by: Time on March 17, 2011, 02:42:16 am
The answer will be fusion.
Title: Re: The future of energy
Post by: Psi on March 17, 2011, 05:00:10 am
If they can crack making high voltage super capacitors which have energy density better or near lithium batteries we'd have an awesome way of storing energy.

Power grid load balancing using capacitors would vastly reduce energy problems.
They'd no longer be building enough power-stations to meet peak-demand and could instead build for average demand which is far far less.

Personally I'd like to invest in a decent array of solar cells on the roof but not when i'd have to replace the battery bank every 5-10 years.
Super capacitor storage would solve this problem nicely as capacitors should last many times longer.



Title: Re: The future of energy
Post by: the_raptor on March 17, 2011, 05:35:25 am
I think a combination of solar, wind, and hydroelectric power are some good alternatives to look at.

Solar is only good for day time unless we get better capacitors/batteries. Wind is highly volatile*, unsightly, and likely to be expensive due to the continuing rise in steel prices. Hydroelectric is mostly a non-starter as most decent hydro sources are already in use, and most further hydro development would cause environmental damage.

Making the price of energy progressive (costing more per unit for increasing use) would be a great way to encourage conservation.

Oh sure if you want to get lynched. Many people base their entire lives on getting a big house with lots of gadgets. Any political party that suggested scaling electricity costs would get thrown out of power quick smart. If you want to stay in power you never attack the "basics" (power, water, food, housing) no matter how rational a change in the status quo might be.

All that is going to happen is that coal plants will keep burning despite the greenhouse gas AND radioactive emissions (American coal plants release more uranium than is contained in all the nuclear power plants in America). The general publics greed and self-interest will not be over ruled by negative effects in what is to the average person the far future.

* Not only do you have problems when the wind is too slow, but turbines can't handle fast wind either.
Title: Re: The future of energy
Post by: EEVblog on March 17, 2011, 06:14:10 am
Solar is only good for day time unless we get better capacitors/batteries.

Looks at solar thermal systems based on molten salt to store energy when the sun goes down. Completely viable, esp here in Australia.

Dave.
Title: Re: The future of energy
Post by: the_raptor on March 17, 2011, 06:34:27 am
Solar is only good for day time unless we get better capacitors/batteries.

Looks at solar thermal systems based on molten salt to store energy when the sun goes down. Completely viable, esp here in Australia.

Dave.

I've read about those but don't know how well they would work as base load power (particularly as you get increased power use in the mornings before the sun is supplying much thermal energy).

I am being negative at the moment because I believe that nuclear is the only really viable option for base load power in Australia (other places could use geothermal), and the Japanese tsunami has pretty much killed any public support. I simply do not believe that energy conservation is politically viable.
Title: Re: The future of energy
Post by: Nermash on March 17, 2011, 07:15:39 am
The answer will be fusion.

I agree, of all solutions presently viable, this one is the most elegant one... I am watching closely at Rossi's energy catalyst, from Bologna Uni Italy.
Title: Re: The future of energy
Post by: Lawsen on March 17, 2011, 07:29:44 am
My mother pays $100.00 USD/month on the average for a 1,300 ft^2 house in an average neighborhood in Stockton, California.  We are powered by: imported electricity from coal fired plants in Nevada, Diablo Canyon nuclear, hydroelectricity, wind mills of the Altamont Pass.  We do have a resident with solar photovoltaic panels made by British Petroleum a few blocks from here, the only house.  My mother would never pay into this system, because it is expensive.  I am not working much, a geologist is useless in Stockton, California.  I have been warehoused here for three years.  There is nothing to do here in this agricultural residental community.  We try to save electricity by using less, LED light bulbs, compact fluorescent bulbs and tubes, turn off lights, and less heat at night as we have blankets.  California is not a pro-nuclear state, but we have two stations, each with two reactors similar to one in Fukushima, Japan, but not as large a campus.  Those will run for another 10 to 20 years into the future.  I will be old.  They are along faults and sea side for cooling water.  We used to have Racho Seco, near Sacramento, California, but Sacramento voters with a ballot by SMUD, Sacramento Municipal Utility District voted against it.  Sacramento has to pay a lot for electricity.  Once per year, SMUD allows the public to visit their old nuclear power plant water pond to fish trout and eat it.   Gasoline prices rose to $4.15/gallon here and our DOW collapsed by the disaster of the 3RD largest economy, Japan.  Our electronics industry is eroding away to outsourcing to China and Philippines.  The world is becoming more technical savvy.  

President Obama gave a gift to the state of Georgia, far in the southern part of America four giant water nuclear reactors that will bring in jobs in constructions and jobs in taking care of it for decades.  Nuclear power is coming back in America in some places.  We do not have enough electricity and have scheduled power outtages by block numbers and expensive rates.  

I ride a recumbent bicycle to save my allowance money for my debts from the university era.  That is the only reason why I am not bankrupt, that recumbent bicycle.  I live poorer than my parents and I have three times more education than them, because there is scarcity in work.  Stockton's unemployment is 18.5% and we are listed as a miserable place to live in America.  

There is not enough water in Australia for hydroelectricity.  New Zealand has a lot of water falls and hydroelectricity.  Ayers rock is bone dry.  Australia can have solar farms in the center.  Fukushima actually is doing well given the amount of damage around it, 9.0 earthquake and huge tsunami afterwards.  The reactors are intact, but not the cooling and machine shops are ruined by the tsunami.  The fire is at a spent fuel storage pond.  The radiation is coming from the spend fuel storage pond.  One worker died at the hospital from the hydrogen gas blast.  Two workers are missing from the tsunami.  One worker might have died at the tower, not sure.  I am reading this from the news.  There is a lot of non sense fear in the West Coast about Fukushima reactor leaks.  Pocket Geiger counters have sold out in many on line stores in the U.S.A., that is insanity to pay for $250. USD for an instrument that one would not need, because we are in the U.S.A., not Fukushima, Japan!!  There is the need for a little amount of science education to use it properly and interpret the numbers coming from the instrument?  

Poverty is going to bring down my country, before we run out of gasoline and electricity.  My mother wanted supreme unleaded gasoline and my neighborhood gasoline station ran out of supreme and mid grade isooctane, non triethlylead gasoline.  We have to buy regular.  The gasoline station ran out of money to buy the more expensive supreme unleaded.   I have not worked much for three years.  Your blog has sort of been a social link to the outside world.   A church gave out free pancakes in Lodi, California and fight ensued, when the pancakes ran out, that I called it the pancake riot, 20 miles (32 km) from here that I read in the newspaper awhile ago.  The food bank use is increasing here.  

America's future in energy is trying to keep it the same way.  That is not my decision.  I can chose to ride a recumbent.  My mother and brother do not ride bicycles.  I am the only one with that environmentalist univerisity experience.  

I do see more wind mills of various designs on the Altamont Pass, between Stockton and San Francisco.  There was an egg whisks beater wind mill, not the propeller design, neat.  I did a paper in my oceanography class about using radar to map ocean currents.  That might be useful for another form of sea side coast energy, tidal power.  All of these alternative energy could not seem to replace fossil and nuclear fuels.  The demand keeps increasing, not going lower.

I did applied for a firm called, Nano Solar in San Jose that prints solar photovoltaic indium, gallium ink onto plastic films as a photovoltaic cell than silicon based ones.  They would have hired me as a solar cell sorter, where not every printed cell would collect electricity the same amount.  The less efficient ones would be sorted away from the more efficient ones in different bins.  These cells would be made into a mosaic for a target efficiency level for uniformity.  I was not hired, because of the budgets and NASDAQ plummet on worsen economy, for now.

Lawsen
Title: Re: The future of energy
Post by: the_raptor on March 17, 2011, 07:53:59 am
The answer will be fusion.

I agree, of all solutions presently viable, this one is the most elegant one... I am watching closely at Rossi's energy catalyst, from Bologna Uni Italy.

Over 50 years and no viable reactor. Also if people are panicking over the kind of releases from the damaged Japanese reactors they won't accept fusion either because it produces similar low level waste.
Title: Re: The future of energy
Post by: Simon on March 17, 2011, 07:56:25 am
I don't have a problem with nuclear per se. But i firstly do not trust humans to run it safely while not thinking too much about the bellions they are manking and of course natural disasters could spell nuclear disaster.

We need to reduce our usage big time. Too many oversized cars, too many poeple just leaving stuff on and wasting because they think it is "cool" to waste and be "big". I only run one radiator in my house at night and often keep most others off during the day. I know energy costs will soar soon so I'm gradually investing in solar panels. Won't make a huge difference but as the price rises they will be more and more of an asset. Of course when petrol really sors so will solar panels as they are transportwed from china.

I don't know why we don't use the rubbish as fuel in the UK instead of burying it. I think in years to come landfill sites will become the new "oil fields" at least then the UK will have a "natuaral resource" again.

I live on £30 of gas and electric a month in the UK and that's damn low.
Title: Re: The future of energy
Post by: rf-loop on March 17, 2011, 08:04:56 am
Nuclear power plants are today realistic and good solution for heating and electric power. Specially after we get more full electric cars.

It is only political stupidity/game about talking unsafe nuclear power.

What we need, we need more good nuclear power plants.

But earth quakes and zunamies we can not avoid. These have been and these come agen and agen.
Also tsunami is possible without earth quake. (example heavy mountain wall collapse in reasonable place)

But what need look more carefully in future - where is safe places for nuclear plants.

Many "green" peoples can not use calculators. They do not understand magnitudes.

But also need develop solar power plants and geothermal powerplants and wind power.
Around 1970 there was lot of nice science for solar powerplants with example natrium based transmission lines.

But what I do not understand - Japanese style of work with these damaged nuclear plants.
I think it is more good to put scientist and engineers to work as leader to design and also command how to do. Now there seems littlebit as political high peoples are to much as leader for this working. It is really stupid (but this hierarcy is also becouse it is included to japanese culture)

It is NOT high science to arrange cooling water to plants - but some reason they have not do it. Now they are situation where they do nearly as playing game. (some tons of water with helicopters, may be lot of peoples think that yes...seems wery powerful... but in real it is just as hollywood solution. Not real solution.

I can ask: Many days ago they know situation. WHY they do not arrange water pumps to area this time when radiation level is still quite low. Yes I know nearly whole infrastructure is destroyed but, we can give high power diesel "fire pumps" if they need. There need also be emergency storage where are more these pumps and fuel. Where are they in japan? Example my country nuclear power plants have these generators allready, they can start pumping after some minutes with full power loose, example for this situation that whole electric system collapse. Yes where are plant inside electric emergency generators? It must be, this must be arranged already in every hell nuclear plant over this Tellus. Why they have not? All nuc plants may loose whole electric and it must be still safely shuttaböle down. (Yes I know also what was this test what they try demonstrate in Tzhernobyl and what test fails and now we talk nuclear power plant catastroph. It was exactly and pure human made catastroph. They do it, it was not axident... I have read papers where is nearly every seconds and minutes what before and just as this happend. It was exactly human made. This problem was not in reactor (yes there was also some small design fail but... without this stupid "test" there is no this catastroph at all. Test was just as put train to go and then shut brakes off and test if it stop before (uncnown placed) wall. Who want go this train)

One problem is also that now in japan reactor number 3 is military nuclear machine!

Also need remember that today and in future nobody build these extremely old fashion reactor types. (But still this is lot of more safe as tzhernobyl type what is extremely labile if loose some control.)

Now they have build in Japan electric power line ready near reactors... but they have loose lot of time.
Whole this time they have possible to use "fire pumps" to keep cooling water. (If they have tell tell truth about situation)

---

But yes, greenpeace take now all out from this case for demonize nuclear power. These guys do not know nearly anything about nuclear power plants and nuclear physics if I little understand how they now argument.
Title: Re: The future of energy
Post by: the_raptor on March 17, 2011, 08:07:00 am
There are other types of fission reactor besides pressurized water reactors like the Japanese plants Simon. The Chinese are developing a "pebble bed" reactor where the fuel is contained in ceramic spheres and moderated by the coolant. That means a coolant loss stops the reaction and the fuel can't "melt down".

This makes it nearly completely safe compared to PWR which requires control rods to moderate the reaction and constant coolant cirulation to prevent fuel melt down.
Title: Re: The future of energy
Post by: EEVblog on March 17, 2011, 09:10:07 am
The answer will be fusion.

I agree, of all solutions presently viable, this one is the most elegant one... I am watching closely at Rossi's energy catalyst, from Bologna Uni Italy.

Over 50 years and no viable reactor. Also if people are panicking over the kind of releases from the damaged Japanese reactors they won't accept fusion either because it produces similar low level waste.

It borders on trivial compared to fission.
Fusion will happen, I have little doubt it will be cracked eventually.

Dave.
Title: Re: The future of energy
Post by: david77 on March 17, 2011, 09:13:02 am
I can't see any alternative to nuclear either, at least not here in middle Europe. Solar power in Germany has never been viable, it only kind of works because the government used to subsidise it heavily and the price per kWh sold to the grid is insanely high. Even the guys that install solar admit to that if you talk to them privately.
I can imagine that AUS could use the big empty inner part of it's landmass for solar power generation but that is simply not possible in most parts of Europe.
Those windmills seem to me the biggest rip-off ever. There are a couple round here that a rich farmer has put up but half the time there's either no wind or there's too much wind and the things stand still.
And even if they run they ususally only put out a fraction of their rated capacity. There are also experts who critizise off shore wind parks, they claim the windmills will simply rust away due to the salty seawater.

Then there's that frankly ludicrous plan to plaster northern Africa's deserts with solar panels and string a wire over to Europe. Yeah, right. Very politically stable region, northern Africa, is it? Would we want to rely on them for power? It's bad enough already with the damned oil.

As long as we can't store the energy by both solar and wind we will always need conventional power plants to provide energy. And those are going to be coal and gas fired if we shut our nuclear plants down.
Who knows, maybe the long dead coal mining industry will come back? Apparently there's still plenty of coal left.

I'm still in favour of nuclear energy but as Simon says you can't trust the people who run those places,
at least not the management. I am less concerned about the engineers and technicians working there. I'm certain they know what they're doing and if a reactor wasn't safe to operate they wouldn't.
Here the loony Atomkraft-Nein-Danke lefties are coming back stronger than ever and this time they might win. The politicians decided to shut down our 7 oldest nuclear plants now. There are some local elections coming up soon... A week ago the party that runs the place at the moment was totally pro nuclear, they even reneged the previous governments decision to get out of nuclear until 2030. Now they have turned 180° and are suddenly all against nuclear. Funny.
25 years ago the loonies have practically written Germany out of nuclear technology R&D and now they are complaining that our reactors are 30-40 years old and - as they claim - are no longer safe to run. Bollocks.
The pebble bed reactor was invented here at KFA Jülich originally but they were forced to stop their researches after the Tschernobyl accident. That would probably be a better alternative to BWR or PWR reactors now had they continued.

Fusion seems to be the only real alternative to nuclear, I might be lucky and see that working when I'm an old man.


Title: Re: The future of energy
Post by: EEVblog on March 17, 2011, 09:17:49 am
I've read about those but don't know how well they would work as base load power (particularly as you get increased power use in the mornings before the sun is supplying much thermal energy).

They are a perfectly workable solution for solar base load solar power.

Quote
I am being negative at the moment because I believe that nuclear is the only really viable option for base load power in Australia (other places could use geothermal), and the Japanese tsunami has pretty much killed any public support. I simply do not believe that energy conservation is politically viable.

Geothermal is a big option for Australia, we have plenty of it.
We have plenty of everything renewable (except water), what we lack is the R&D funding and the will to do it.

If we had to, we could go 100% renewable.

I'm glad nuclear is likely off the table for us now, in 50-100 years time I have little doubt those who went the fission route will be very sorry.

Dave.
Title: Re: The future of energy
Post by: mikeselectricstuff on March 17, 2011, 09:52:52 am
This looks like a very interesting technology :
Thorium Remix 2009 - LFTR in 25 Minutes (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EHdRJqi__Z8#)
Title: Re: The future of energy
Post by: Chasm on March 17, 2011, 10:14:07 am
This looks like a very interesting technology :
Thorium Remix 2009 - LFTR in 25 Minutes[/url]

The big problem with the new designs is that they are theoretical.
We know next to nothing about them. Even if there were a few test reactors decades ago they are everything but what would be build today.

We know a lot more about SWR and PWR reactors today than when they were build.
There have been many accidents of various, mostly low, severity levels. Each and every time the reactor designs have been modified with the new knowledge in mind. Retrofits have been developed for existing reactors.


THE big lesson from Fukushima so far is that it is not enough to develop those fixes. You also have to force other nations to deploy them.

After Three Mile Island there were a lot of modifications to reactors all over the world. Well, apparently all over the world but Japan.

The sad thing is that with those modifications the problems at Fukushima reactors 1-4 would not have happened, or would have been orders of magnitude less dangerous.

Or to put it even more bluntly.
All the problems we now see live on TV were identified in the '80s.
Retrofits to prevent or at least mitigate them were developed.
They were deployed all over the world, but apparently not in Japan.
Title: Re: The future of energy
Post by: NiHaoMike on March 17, 2011, 01:25:36 pm
Hydroelectric is mostly a non-starter as most decent hydro sources are already in use, and most further hydro development would cause environmental damage.
Why haven't they looked into hydroelectric power that does not require building dams?
Quote
Oh sure if you want to get lynched. Many people base their entire lives on getting a big house with lots of gadgets. Any political party that suggested scaling electricity costs would get thrown out of power quick smart. If you want to stay in power you never attack the "basics" (power, water, food, housing) no matter how rational a change in the status quo might be.
Since when did politics actually solve problems? One way that would effectively implement the same idea would be to give a discount to efficient customers.
Title: Re: The future of energy
Post by: the_raptor on March 17, 2011, 03:21:52 pm
They are a perfectly workable solution for solar base load solar power.

What percentage of peak output do they run at over night? I mean with enough of any power generator you can handle base load, but if you need generators that could supply 2000% peak capacity to handle over night it probably isn't very economical way to do it.

I also doubt this could be done in a matter of decades simply due to shortage of local manufacturing and skilled labour. State and local authorities around here can't even build a hundred kilometres of highway in under a decade.
Title: Re: The future of energy
Post by: the_raptor on March 17, 2011, 03:27:15 pm
All the problems we now see live on TV were identified in the '80s.
Retrofits to prevent or at least mitigate them were developed.
They were deployed all over the world, but apparently not in Japan.

The main problem appears to be the spent fuel ponds required active cooling and the coolant has boiled off. I can understand a reactor requiring active cooling but relying on it for spent fuel seems poorly thought out. The reactors have containment vessels which means the most serious threat is just irradiated steam, the ponds are open air and apparently the fuel in them has started burning.
Title: Re: The future of energy
Post by: Time on March 17, 2011, 03:47:58 pm
There are 0 issues with reactor meltdow in fusion.  Depending on the type of fusion reaction, there isn't even a need for radioactive fuel.

Fusion will be widely accepted over fission and fossil fuels.  Anyone who thinks otherwise is probably just not entirely informed on the nature of the concept and simply views all nuclear reactions the same.

The experiments to watch are ITER, NIF, Tokamak reactors, and Polywell.  These are all thermonuclear approaches which are widely accepted within the nuclear and physics communities.  There are also many small scale efforts in the area of cold fusion but this is a pretty debated and controversial subject.
Title: Re: The future of energy
Post by: Chasm on March 17, 2011, 05:22:15 pm

The main problem appears to be the spent fuel ponds required active cooling and the coolant has boiled off. I can understand a reactor requiring active cooling but relying on it for spent fuel seems poorly thought out. The reactors have containment vessels which means the most serious threat is just irradiated steam, the ponds are open air and apparently the fuel in them has started burning.

At ars technica the evaporation rate of a fully filled spent fuel ponds of a size as at the Fukushima reactors was calculated at IIRC 100 liter per minute.
That is not much, esp. since you only have to fill an open pool and not pump against the pressure in the containment or reactor vessel.

But if you don't top it off... Well, we now know that the theoretical time limit of 4 days until problems because of missing water manifest is also the practical one. (Also calculated at ars technica)

I could understand such problems at reactors 1 or 3. 3 was trashed pretty badly in the hydrogen explosion. But at 4? Words fail me.
Title: Re: The future of energy
Post by: Zero999 on March 17, 2011, 05:35:18 pm
I think nuclear is pretty safe in comparison to other technologies, when things are running as they should. Think of the alternatives: coal, oil and gas and all the accidents that occur on oil rigs, coal mines and in transporting coal vs the tiny amount of nuclear fuel required. Of course with nuclear there's the potential for a huge disaster and storing the waste correctly.
Title: Re: The future of energy
Post by: NiHaoMike on March 17, 2011, 06:13:42 pm
I wonder why they don't store the used fuel in a pit below sea level. If they did, it would be trivial to flood the pit with sea water.
Title: Re: The future of energy
Post by: Simon on March 17, 2011, 06:30:07 pm
I wonder why they don't store the used fuel in a pit below sea level. If they did, it would be trivial to flood the pit with sea water.

wouldn't that make the water radio active ?
Title: Re: The future of energy
Post by: Neilm on March 17, 2011, 06:56:06 pm
There are 0 issues with reactor meltdow in fusion.  Depending on the type of fusion reaction, there isn't even a need for radioactive fuel.

Fusion will be widely accepted over fission and fossil fuels.  Anyone who thinks otherwise is probably just not entirely informed on the nature of the concept and simply views all nuclear reactions the same.

The experiments to watch are ITER, NIF, Tokamak reactors, and Polywell.  These are all thermonuclear approaches which are widely accepted within the nuclear and physics communities.  There are also many small scale efforts in the area of cold fusion but this is a pretty debated and controversial subject.

Isn't there a trial of a commercially viable fusion reactor being built in France at the moment?

Neil
Title: Re: The future of energy
Post by: Time on March 17, 2011, 07:16:08 pm
http://www.iter.org/mach (http://www.iter.org/mach)

Yes, thats ITER.  I wouldn't say commerically viable - its a long way away from the commercial market.  Like all fusion projects, they have their skeptics about its feasibility so its still considered highly experimental.

Its the largest most expensive effort for fusion, by far.
Title: Re: The future of energy
Post by: Simon on March 17, 2011, 07:24:14 pm
when I read about fusion as a kid it said that it would get so hot we did not have a material to make the reactor out of. Have we overcome that ?
Title: Re: The future of energy
Post by: jahonen on March 17, 2011, 07:53:13 pm
when I read about fusion as a kid it said that it would get so hot we did not have a material to make the reactor out of. Have we overcome that ?

I'm not sure if that is the heat, but the intense neutron flux coming from the fusion process. Plasma is easily contained in magnetic field (at least as easily as making a torus from a jelly using rubberbands).

Regards,
Janne
Title: Re: The future of energy
Post by: ChrisGammell on March 17, 2011, 08:42:31 pm
Bill Gates had a talk on an alternative method that was being investigated as an option. Granted, it's still in the simulation phase, so it has no guarantee of working. The Japan disaster will set back getting one install as well, probably.

[youtube]Bill Gates on energy: Innovating to zero! (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JaF-fq2Zn7I#ws)[/youtube]

It's called a traveling wave reactor (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Traveling_wave_reactor). My favorite part is that it burns off spent fuel. Imagine getting rid of all the already existing nuclear waste ALONG with getting energy out of it!

That Bill Gates fella, he's going somewhere...he's gonna be big, just you wait.
Title: Re: The future of energy
Post by: Time on March 17, 2011, 10:31:32 pm
Yes, there are different ways of confining the plasma.  ITER is an example of magnetic confinement.  The torus type field geometry that Janne mentioned would called a tokamak
Title: Re: The future of energy
Post by: Zero999 on March 17, 2011, 10:46:33 pm
It's called a traveling wave reactor (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Traveling_wave_reactor). My favorite part is that it burns off spent fuel. Imagine getting rid of all the already existing nuclear waste ALONG with getting energy out of it!
It still produces nasty radioactive waste so is not a solution.

Title: Re: The future of energy
Post by: the_raptor on March 18, 2011, 05:26:46 am
The experiments to watch are ITER, NIF, Tokamak reactors, and Polywell. 

Which have all been "ten years away from full production" for my entire life. Given fusion researchers poor record of over coming the massive engineering problems, waiting on fusion is about as sane as waiting for magic nanobots that will gobble up all the C02 for us.
Title: Re: The future of energy
Post by: apex on March 18, 2011, 01:05:33 pm
Some power-things:
- Scientist can reform water and CO² to alkanes, which - when mixed - give you petrol

- If you would plant solar thermal power plants all over Algeria, you could generate enough energy for at least Europe and Africa

- Ten years ago, fusion power was 50 years away

- Now, fusion power is 50 years away

- In ten years, fusion power will be 50 years away

- 50 years is the usual timespan a power company manager is known for having worked at a company

- Technics is cool...       ...if it works!

- Fusion is really cool!

- You could store the solar energy in hydrogen, which then could be deployed all over the earth

- There are two possibilities to get the energy back from the hydrogen: burn it, or use a fuel cell.

- Steam turbines are normally up to 80% efficient

- The fuel cell approach has two possibilities: Cold fuel cells and hot fuel cells

- Cold fuel cells are about 50% efficient, but portable

- Hot fuel cells are about 95% efficient, but as big as a railway carriage

- You could possibly deploy the energy, but no one wants to build there!

- You could get the next Bill Gates by investing in this sector

- Wind power and water power are solar power, too!

- We need to use less energy, but no one wants to!

- So the task is the engineer's: Build gadgets with less energy hunger

- But you gadget needs to be cool to! Look at the CFLs. They aren't accepted at all!

Just my opinions...

apex
Title: Re: The future of energy
Post by: Zero999 on March 18, 2011, 06:23:29 pm
- Steam turbines are normally up to 80% efficient
I doubt that.

In theory yes but practical turbines don't give anywhere near that level of efficiency: materials aren't strong enough to withstand the temperatures required.
Title: Re: The future of energy
Post by: apex on March 18, 2011, 07:42:38 pm
OK, wikipedia says about 40%.
My fault.

apex
Title: Re: The future of energy
Post by: Chasm on March 18, 2011, 09:07:26 pm
It's called a traveling wave reactor (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Traveling_wave_reactor). My favorite part is that it burns off spent fuel. Imagine getting rid of all the already existing nuclear waste ALONG with getting energy out of it!

The traveling wave reactor has one major problem:
How do you turn it of once you started it?
Title: Re: The future of energy
Post by: ChrisGammell on March 18, 2011, 11:00:33 pm
From my (poor, I'm sure) understanding of the traveling wave, it's buried in the ground...so you...don't. Haha.

Those are just details, right? Let's get these suckers rollin!
Title: Re: The future of energy
Post by: Time on March 26, 2011, 02:33:16 am
The experiments to watch are ITER, NIF, Tokamak reactors, and Polywell. 

Which have all been "ten years away from full production" for my entire life. Given fusion researchers poor record of over coming the massive engineering problems, waiting on fusion is about as sane as waiting for magic nanobots that will gobble up all the C02 for us.

If you want list any of the engineering problems that need to be overcame I'd gladly discuss this with you.  I'll admit that the fusion promises of the early years were pretty hollow but things are quite different now.

No researchers are claiming 10 years away from full scale production that I know of.  Maybe I am wrong.



Title: Re: The future of energy
Post by: housey on March 26, 2011, 06:00:15 pm
My mother pays $100.00 USD/month on the average for a 1,300 ft^2 house in an average neighborhood in Stockton, California.  We are powered by: imported electricity from coal fired plants in Nevada, Diablo Canyon nuclear, hydroelectricity, wind mills of the Altamont Pass.  We do have a resident with solar photovoltaic panels made by British Petroleum a few blocks from here, the only house.  My mother would never pay into this system, because it is expensive.  I am not working much, a geologist is useless in Stockton, California.  I have been warehoused here for three years.  There is nothing to do here in this agricultural residental community.  We try to save electricity by using less, LED light bulbs, compact fluorescent bulbs and tubes, turn off lights, and less heat at night as we have blankets.  California is not a pro-nuclear state, but we have two stations, each with two reactors similar to one in Fukushima, Japan, but not as large a campus.  Those will run for another 10 to 20 years into the future.  I will be old.  They are along faults and sea side for cooling water.  We used to have Racho Seco, near Sacramento, California, but Sacramento voters with a ballot by SMUD, Sacramento Municipal Utility District voted against it.  Sacramento has to pay a lot for electricity.  Once per year, SMUD allows the public to visit their old nuclear power plant water pond to fish trout and eat it.   Gasoline prices rose to $4.15/gallon here and our DOW collapsed by the disaster of the 3RD largest economy, Japan.  Our electronics industry is eroding away to outsourcing to China and Philippines.  The world is becoming more technical savvy.  

President Obama gave a gift to the state of Georgia, far in the southern part of America four giant water nuclear reactors that will bring in jobs in constructions and jobs in taking care of it for decades.  Nuclear power is coming back in America in some places.  We do not have enough electricity and have scheduled power outtages by block numbers and expensive rates.  

I ride a recumbent bicycle to save my allowance money for my debts from the university era.  That is the only reason why I am not bankrupt, that recumbent bicycle.  I live poorer than my parents and I have three times more education than them, because there is scarcity in work.  Stockton's unemployment is 18.5% and we are listed as a miserable place to live in America.  

There is not enough water in Australia for hydroelectricity.  New Zealand has a lot of water falls and hydroelectricity.  Ayers rock is bone dry.  Australia can have solar farms in the center.  Fukushima actually is doing well given the amount of damage around it, 9.0 earthquake and huge tsunami afterwards.  The reactors are intact, but not the cooling and machine shops are ruined by the tsunami.  The fire is at a spent fuel storage pond.  The radiation is coming from the spend fuel storage pond.  One worker died at the hospital from the hydrogen gas blast.  Two workers are missing from the tsunami.  One worker might have died at the tower, not sure.  I am reading this from the news.  There is a lot of non sense fear in the West Coast about Fukushima reactor leaks.  Pocket Geiger counters have sold out in many on line stores in the U.S.A., that is insanity to pay for $250. USD for an instrument that one would not need, because we are in the U.S.A., not Fukushima, Japan!!  There is the need for a little amount of science education to use it properly and interpret the numbers coming from the instrument?  

Poverty is going to bring down my country, before we run out of gasoline and electricity.  My mother wanted supreme unleaded gasoline and my neighborhood gasoline station ran out of supreme and mid grade isooctane, non triethlylead gasoline.  We have to buy regular.  The gasoline station ran out of money to buy the more expensive supreme unleaded.   I have not worked much for three years.  Your blog has sort of been a social link to the outside world.   A church gave out free pancakes in Lodi, California and fight ensued, when the pancakes ran out, that I called it the pancake riot, 20 miles (32 km) from here that I read in the newspaper awhile ago.  The food bank use is increasing here.  

America's future in energy is trying to keep it the same way.  That is not my decision.  I can chose to ride a recumbent.  My mother and brother do not ride bicycles.  I am the only one with that environmentalist univerisity experience.  

I do see more wind mills of various designs on the Altamont Pass, between Stockton and San Francisco.  There was an egg whisks beater wind mill, not the propeller design, neat.  I did a paper in my oceanography class about using radar to map ocean currents.  That might be useful for another form of sea side coast energy, tidal power.  All of these alternative energy could not seem to replace fossil and nuclear fuels.  The demand keeps increasing, not going lower.

I did applied for a firm called, Nano Solar in San Jose that prints solar photovoltaic indium, gallium ink onto plastic films as a photovoltaic cell than silicon based ones.  They would have hired me as a solar cell sorter, where not every printed cell would collect electricity the same amount.  The less efficient ones would be sorted away from the more efficient ones in different bins.  These cells would be made into a mosaic for a target efficiency level for uniformity.  I was not hired, because of the budgets and NASDAQ plummet on worsen economy, for now.

Lawsen

Wow that is just sad, and one of the reasons I'm truely greatful I didn't stick with uni like most people I know have done. I walked straight out of uni shortly after entering, to the initial outcry of my parents and into a boring deadbeat job earning $45,000 a year. I have since got an apprenticeship so I earn slightly less but once I am qualified in 3 years I will be on $100,000 per year. I am living at home still but I'm only 19 and have a $400,000 house that I am paying off with some of my wages + the rent I recieve.

So many people around my age and a bit older have nothing. They have their uni degree, and unpaid uni fee's and the only work they can find is completely unqualified work in the retail/food industry, earning just enough to live comfortably with mum and dad and enough to go out and get drunk on the weekend. One day they will wake up, close to 30 years old and realise they have gone nowhere, and everything that they expected would just come to them like a great job everyones parents and teachers always told them they would "achieve if they believe in themselves". I honestly believe all that crap that was fed to us as children, that we were all special and all our dreams would come true has been the biggest bane for Gen Y and is going to be a massive problem for years to come.

I honestly always thought I would just end up a chemical engineer or something earning $200,000 per year, working 9-5 5 days a week and driving a flash car, and if you asked anyone else what they were going to be it was some high paid financial planner or marketing genius. No one wanted to do a fair days work for a fair days wage, thats not very exciting is it? It didn't ever hit me until I ended up 2 weeks into my uni course, and realised that it wasn't for me and contrary to what everyone had told me throughout my life up until that point, I was just a mediocre human being, slightly above mediocre at best. This really depressed me and hit me hard

The funny thing is that I have somehow ended up in a job that I genuinely like doing, all those niggling worries like where will you be working in 5-10 years are completely gone, my family is supportive of me again, I have a gf that loves me and in all honesty my future is looking brighter than 90% of my friends futures are, which some of them are just starting to realise now after giving me crap for dropping out of uni.
Title: Re: The future of energy
Post by: Simon on March 26, 2011, 06:07:30 pm
yes i know someone that got a chemistry degree and is now working as an analyst for a bank - wow yes apparantly her analytical skills in chemistry help her in this financial job: BULLSHIT

there are plenty of fold running around with degrees in the UK and nothing to do with them