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Thread: Cold Fusion around the corner?

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    Politics.ie Member Akrasia's Avatar
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    Default Cold Fusion around the corner?

    There are two types of nuclear reaction, Fission, the splitting of atoms to release energy, the traditional kind of nuclear power generated in conventional nuclear power stations around the world, and Fusion, the fusing of atoms to release energy.

    Up to now, the majority of research into the development of commercial nuclear fusion have revolved around trying to reproduce the conditions that allow fusion in stars, ie, intense heat pressure and gravity forcing atoms together to produce a self sustaining reaction. This has yielded some results and progress is slow but steady although it is still unclear if we will ever be able to make it a practical alternative to Fission power.

    However, it seems like a team at the University of Florida are after making a break through on an alternative method of fusing atoms that they have been working on for more than 11 years. According to the extremely limited information in the news report, their process appears to be using a particle accelerator to ram streams of hydrogen atoms into boron 11 isotopes at massive speeds causing them to fuse into helium which can then be converted into energy.

    According to this report, the only by product is helium and it can potentially be scaled up to industrial levels of production within a decade.

    I know there have been a number of false dawns in the energy debate, but I think this project really looks like something to watch for the future. If it can be rolled out successfully, it could be the most important invention in the history of our species, unlimited, cheap, safe, energy which would allow our civilisation to take the next technological leap into our wildest dreams.

    That said, This report contains hardly any specific information and there is feck all out there on the internet either. Hopefully it's not just another example of lazy hacks and even lasier editors trying to fill space on a slow news day with non stories.

    Lets keep our feet on the ground and keep developing alternatives as there are never any guarantees and many others have promised the same thing

    Fusion breakthrough a magic bullet for energy crisis? - Science, News - The Independent
    Last edited by Akrasia; 13th January 2010 at 01:37 PM.
    Actual morality is doing what is right regardless of what you're told. Religious morality is doing what you're told, regardless of if it's right.

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    If this is viable, would it be feasible to convert the test centre under Switzerland to a cold fusion facility?
    We have turned the corner.I commend this Budget to the House. Brian Lenihan, 9 December 2009

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    Politics.ie Member Half Nelson's Avatar
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    Here's another report on the same project. Check the date.

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    Politics.ie Member Malboury's Avatar
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    There have been literally dozens of false starts (and sometimes just false data!) concerning cold fusion since the 80's. A claim like this would need some serious vetting before it could be taken seriously. It's a pity; cold fusion could easily be a magic bullet for the energy crisis, but there's plenty of theory to say it's either incredibly unlikely or even impossible.

    The best hope for fusion is probably the 'Hot' fusion experimental plants such as ITER in France, where it is planned to build a 'sun in a box', replicating the conditions found in the sun in order to produce energy. So far the main problem isn't the sun, but the box. No one seems to have a plan for a material/mechanism that can hold the plasma in place without it eating through the 'box'. They hope to have this problem solved by 2040 or so, thought that's of course based on some as yet unknown breakthrough.

    Anyway, just my 2 cents. Claims for cold fusion aren't as disreputable as those for, say, perpetual motion, but are still fairly out there.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Half Nelson View Post
    Here's another report on the same project. Check the date.
    *bummer*

    I've given up on fusion at this stage.

    As far as I can see, all of these false dawns founder on the same conundrum, that it takes more energy to make them work than they produce.

    The simplest solution to all of this is, and always will be, greater efficiency.
    A demagogue is someone who will preach doctrines he knows to be untrue to men he knows to be idiots.

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    Politics.ie Member Akrasia's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by goosebump View Post
    *bummer*

    I've given up on fusion at this stage.

    As far as I can see, all of these false dawns founder on the same conundrum, that it takes more energy to make them work than they produce.

    The simplest solution to all of this is, and always will be, greater efficiency.
    Yeah, I've done some more looking and Colliding beam fusion doesn't seem to have had any new developments since 1998 when the last paper appears to have been published (other than another paper in 2003 critiquing their calculations on how much energy they could extract)
    It looks just like some more shoddy journalism. I'm e-mailing the Independent as we speak, they usually have higher standards than this.

    Edit to add, that the quiet around this research does not necessarily indicate a lack of progress, given the money at stake and the fact that this is now privately funded, it is perfectly understandable that they might be getting good results privately but are not prepared to publish until they are at a more advanced stage and have the correct patents in place.
    Last edited by Akrasia; 13th January 2010 at 02:39 PM.
    Actual morality is doing what is right regardless of what you're told. Religious morality is doing what you're told, regardless of if it's right.

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    Fusion has 'always' been 30 years away. The above process is not useful for power as most of the energy is lost due to 'bremsstrahlung' unless a way can be found around that.

    The traditional hot fusion process has the major stumbling block that no low enough activity materials exist. In other words the neutrons emitted by the process will degrade the reactor materials of construction. This limits current fusion experiments to seconds.
    Using Helium 3 as the raw material in this process has been demostrated as technically feasible (no neutron problem) over hours or days. However He 3 is very rare and the closest industrially viable amount is the moon assuming that water data we have can be extrapolated (a big if).
    Electrical capacity=electrical generation
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    Quote Originally Posted by Malboury View Post
    The best hope for fusion is probably the 'Hot' fusion experimental plants such as ITER in France, where it is planned to build a 'sun in a box', replicating the conditions found in the sun in order to produce energy. So far the main problem isn't the sun, but the box. No one seems to have a plan for a material/mechanism that can hold the plasma in place without it eating through the 'box'. .
    Saw something on a documentary recently where they were flying the plasma around in a circle, like a huge doughnut wrapped in electromagnets

    Think this is the basic idea
    Fusion: Magnetic Confinement

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    Politics.ie Member QuizMaster's Avatar
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    The thing to remember about fusion is that it is 10 years away. Always has been, maybe always will be.
    And if they ever get it working, why then Duterium and Tritium, altough they come from seawater, will be expensive non-renewable resources. Round and round we go. What will be the next big thing after Fusion?
    If there is a future, it will be Green.

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    Politics.ie Member Akrasia's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by QuizMaster View Post
    The thing to remember about fusion is that it is 10 years away. Always has been, maybe always will be.
    And if they ever get it working, why then Duterium and Tritium, altough they come from seawater, will be expensive non-renewable resources. Round and round we go. What will be the next big thing after Fusion?

    God. once we can harnass the power of the sun and stars, the next logical step is to be able to tame the omnipotentce of Mr God and use him to power our ipods and playstation 9s
    Actual morality is doing what is right regardless of what you're told. Religious morality is doing what you're told, regardless of if it's right.

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