Saturday, January 22, 2011
Coal is Toast
Although we do not actually know how so called cold fusion actually works and it may not be fusion at all, although I find that unlikely, we suddenly have a configuration that exploits the phenomena and in fact produces a massive amount of heat. The clear existence of gamma rays supports a nuclear process of some sort that we have been unable to define, not least because the actual event itself and its products occur rarely within a mass of material. It is a true needle in the haystack problem.
In the end, this is not unexpected and was my first conjecture on hearing of the initial discovery decades ago. Success has come in looking at the details and to keep working at it.
The big news is that this protocol appears to be suitable for a straight forward scaling up to produce high quality steam in a pressure chamber. Even more dramatic is that it appears to lend itself to rapid manufacture. At best we are looking at a simple pressure chamber to generate the high quality heat. At worst, the reactive powder needs special attention during fabrication.
So unless something really weird causes us a problem we can move to rapid and relatively inexpensive heat engines to swiftly replace all coal and Uranium based power plants. This discovery spells the complete demise of both industries just as fast as we like. The only asset any of them have today is access to market share.
Once the science is a little better understood, we will see a rush to increase general efficiency. This is surely not the last word on that.
The metals themselves should turn out to be easily reformed at worst in order to put back into use after they are spent. They will not be true consumables.
This also spells the end of a substantial amount of our global CO2 emissions. The global warming debate is on the way to been irrelevant. The real irony will come when we decide to deliberately burn these fuels in order to make carbon available for a richer biosphere. After all we do want and can green the deserts and dry lands of the globe. To do that properly will demand huge amounts of carbon.
At the present a heat machine can be built in bulk that produces 15 to 20 times unity with no fuel of any significance. It is produced as steam and that is ideal for the power industry. It will not be that easy, but we are replacing coal burners and reaction stacks with a reaction pile using powered nickel. One can anticipate retrofitting many plants.