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with h/t Fred

Cal on August 31st, 2015

Comments from Huffington Post Science Blog by David H. Bailey (Lawrence Berkeley National Lab (retired) and University of California, Davis) and Jonathan M. Borwein (Professor of Mathematics, University of Newcastle, Australia), August 29, 2015 on the media reports regarding the potential discovery of cold fusion (low energy nuclear reactions) by Italian enegineer/entrepreneur Andrea Rossi:

 

Rossi’s work leaves us with three stark choices: (a) Rossi and those working with him or independently have made some fundamental and far-reaching blunder in their experimental work; (b) Rossi is leading a conspiracy of sorts to cover dishonest scientific behavior; or (c) Rossi has made an important discovery with sweeping potential impact.

With each passing month, and with more researchers finding similar results, (a) and (b) look less likely. On the other hand, skepticism is certainly still in order until Rossi comes forward with more details on the designs and control techniques used in his system.

Needless to say, the stakes are very high, for any or all of these projects. Among the potential impacts are:

  1. An environmental windfall — enabling a dramatic and rapid conversion of existing coal- and gas-burning electric power plants to a “green” source with minimal fuel costs.
  2. Potential applications even in transportation, water purification, small businesses and homes.
  3. Most likely, a further dramatic drop in oil prices worldwide.
  4. Financial repercussions; according to a new recent report, at least one-half trillion dollars of bonds are at risk if oil prices drop further.
  5. Political repercussions; already Saudi Arabia is having great difficulty keeping its economy afloat with the current drop in oil prices and its own longer term goals.

One way or the other, whether these effects are confirmed (and large commercial enterprises engage) or refuted, the next few months promise to make a very interesting chapter in the history of science. Hold on to your hats!

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Cal on August 31st, 2015

Something Different

Cal on August 30th, 2015

This week the World Trade Organization (WTO) found that India’s subsidies for solar power contravene WTO trade rules. India must now remove these subsidies or face trade sanctions. The US filed the WTO complaint in 2013 alleging that India’s subsidies for the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (NSM) discriminated against foreign suppliers of solar components. NSM’s goal is to generate 100 gigawatts of electricity annually from solar power by 2022.  India mandates that a specific proportion of specified materials used in the NSM must be manufactured in India, including thin film technologies. US exports of thin film technologies dominated the Indian market and led to the US challenge before the WTO.

A new wind energy electricity generation record has been set in Brazil, with more than 2,9 gigawattt-hours of electricity generated from wind energy projects in the South American country on the day of July 20, 2015. That is enough energy to power 13 million homes. Wind electrical generation capacity now represents about 3.5% of that country’s total electricity generation mix.

About half of the electric trains in The Netherlands will run on wind power by early 2015, and the entire Dutch rail network is expected to run solely on wind power by 2018. Wind farms within the country and also in Belgium, and nearby Scandinavian countries will generate the energy for the electric trains.

The US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission reports 18% of the electricity used by that country in June of this year came from renewable sources. In May the number was 15%.

The world’s first plant to use both geothermal energy and biomass went into operation in Tuscany, Italy by electricity producer Enel Green Power. The facility uses locally sourced forest biomass to heat steam, generated from geothermal energy that enters the plant, to a temperature of over 200° Celsius. The integration of the two renewable energy sources enhances cycle efficiency and the volume of steam generated at the plant will improve production capacity by 5 megawatts (MW) to 18 MW.

German automaker Audi announced that within the next few years it is planning to produce a fully electric SUV with 311 miles (500 kilometers) of range. So far only Tesla and General Motors have plans to market a long-range all-electric vehicle.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology announced plans to build a compact nuclear fusion reactor called ARC for the purpose of both researching and producing practical fusion power. New, commercially available superconductors make the project possible, as they are capable of producing stronger magnetic field coils. This allows for the fusion process to work effectively in a smaller, less expensive reactor than ever before. In theory, ARC should be able to produce three times the amount of energy it takes to keep it running and could be in operation by the end of this decade.

 

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Cal on August 29th, 2015

From E-Cat World we learn that Andrea Rossi was granted a patent for his E-Cat cold fusion mechanism this week by the US Patent Office.  The patent was issued on August 25, 2015. Rossi has been tight lipped about how his E-Cat works but the patent provides some new information such as diagrams of his device and the contents of the “fuel” in Rossi’s reactors: it is a powder of 50% nickel, 20% lithium and 30% lithium aluminum hydride.

Rossi claims that he has developed a tabletop nuclear reactor that produces heat by an as-yet-not-fully-understood low energy nuclear reaction (LENR) process.

He has also said that he and a private firm, Industrial Heat, LLC of Raleigh, North Carolina in the US, have actually installed a working system at an undisclosed commercial customer’s site. According to Rossi the system is producing 1 megawatt continuous net output power, in the form of heat, from a few grams of “fuel” in each of a set of modest-sized reactors in a network. The system has been operating for approximately six months, as part of a one-year acceptance test. Rossi and Industrial Heat are in talks with Chinese firms for large-scale commercial manufacture.

Another private firm in the area of low energy nuclear reactions is Brillouin Energy Corp. of Berkeley, California, where researchers are developing what they term a controlled electron capture reaction (CECR) process. In their experiments, ordinary hydrogen is loaded into a nickel lattice, and then an electronic pulse is passed through the system, using a proprietary control system. They claim that their device converts H-1 (ordinary hydrogen) to H-2 (deuterium), then to H-3 (tritium) and H-4 (quatrium), which then decays to He-4 and releases energy. They report that they have confirmed H-3 production in their process.

Additional technical details are given at the Brillouin Energy website, and in a patent application. Their patent application reads, in part, “Embodiments generate thermal energy by neutron generation, neutron capture, and subsequent transport of excess binding energy as useful heat for any application.”

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Cal on August 29th, 2015

Earth's Energy