Saturday, January 25, 2014

Ideas for energy that I like

This is a post a lot like the other one I did yesterday about space.  Since the blog is handicapping potential solutions to big problems, the other big one, which is energy, should not be left out.

I will follow the same conventions as I did with that one, but will add a couple new twists.  One twist is to handicap it as to its likely adoption in the future.  A second twist is that I will say what I don't like about it, or put in some negatives about it.  Like before, this is in no particular order.

  • Molten-salt reactors  What I like  Proven in the lab.  Only one step from commercialization.  What I don't like Politics is against it.  Nuclear energy, especially fission energy, is becoming almost forbidden.  To put it more accurately, I don't like the leadership on the issue, not the technology itself.  Odd of success?  Maybe 50-50.  With appropriate leadership, it's a can't miss prospect.
  • Focus Fusion ( aneutronic fusion method )  What I like  It is also on the list for fusion propulsion for space travel.  Very, very elegant energy solution.  What I don't like  People do not see the value of this proposal.  To put this one more accurately, what I don't like is the failure of leadership on this issue as well, not the technology itself.  However, this may be changing for the better.  Odds of success?  Technology wise maybe less than 50-50.  Otherwise better than 50-50.
  • Polywell Fusion ( aneutronic fusion method)  What I like  Very elegant.  What I don't like  May not work.  The original inventor of the idea has died.  There is nobody to move it forward like Robert Bussard could have.  Odds of success?  Less than 50-50.
  • Cold fusion  What I like  Even more elegant solution than aneutronic fusion.  What I don't like   It may be a futile quest for the Holy Grail of Energy.  In reality, there may not be any clean and safe source of energy at all, and the risk is that the quest could be a big waste of time.   Odds of success?  Less than 50-50.
  • Muon catalyzed fusion  What I like  It almost works, so somebody may figure it out and make it work someday.  What I don't like  This one is like Focus Fusion.  It is a technology that is being overlooked.  It's not a technology problem, it's a people problem.  Odds of success?  Less than 50-50.
  • Hydrogen fuel cells  What I like  It can work today.  What I don't like  Again, nothing wrong with the tech, it's the failure of leadership that's the problem.   Odds of success?  Less than 50-50 because of poor leadership, as for the technology itself, it already exists.
  • (updated) Fracking  What I like  It works today.  What I don't like  If there's anything here that causes concern, it that we can't burn fuel in the atmosphere forever.  This changes the atmosphere.  Do we really want to do that? Odds of success?  N/A since it already works and is in production.  Long term prognosis is uncertain.
  • (updated) Ethanol and Flex Fuel Vehicles  What I like It works today  What I don't like It doesn't include methanol, but ethanol could be produced cheaply soon from methane with new GTL methods.  Odds of success? N/A because it already exists, but ethanol from natural gas doesn't exist yet.  The odds of that are better than 50/50.
Hmm.  That's all I can think of for now.  As before with space, if I can remember something, I will add it in.

For the record, I positively do not like solar, wind, and other so-called renewables.  These are huge wastes of money and time as they will definitely not work.  At least not on the ground.  Solar energy may work in space.

Update: Part 2 of a series.  Part 3 here.  Part 1 here.

1 comment:

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