Cold Fusion around the corner?

Akrasia

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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
 
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DCon

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If this is viable, would it be feasible to convert the test centre under Switzerland to a cold fusion facility?
 

Half Nelson

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Here's another report on the same project. Check the date.
 

Malboury

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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.
 

goosebump

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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.
 

Akrasia

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*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.
 
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riven

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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).
 
G

Gimpanzee

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
 

QuizMaster

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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?
 

Akrasia

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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?

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
 
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One of the best things about a truly feasible form of fusion would be the chaos it would cause for such regimes as the Russians and the Saudis, amongst others who use their energy supply as a blunt instrument.

However, I am with many posters on this thread who arently overwhelmed at the claim, its a perennial claim it seems.
 

cry freedom

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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

Another "free" lunch offering !
 

fiannafailure

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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?
A Dyson Sphere, now that is engineering
 

QuizMaster

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A dyson sphere is inherently unstable.
Even the slightest shift in its position would cause it to go tumbling into its star. The same goes for Larry Niven's deeply flawed Ringworld.
 

Malboury

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A dyson sphere is inherently unstable.
Even the slightest shift in its position would cause it to go tumbling into its star. The same goes for Larry Niven's deeply flawed Ringworld.
Ah, but as Niven pointed out in the sequel to Ringworld, a series of Ramjet's could be used to stabilize the Ringworld. Though in general, you're right. The centre of gravity rests inside the star; not a stable place to be:) As for a Dyson sphere; well, it's super-science or bust at that stage of engineering anyway.

A series of much smaller ringworld's built in orbit of a star with mirrors used for lighting would be a better idea. All that said, great to see a fellow scifi fan on P.ie!
 

Malboury

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Link to data please
Ringworld build with Star at it's centre is incredibly unstable, as it's centre of gravity sits on the star. Check out Niven's foreword in Ringworld Engineers for the data you need. Same goes for a Dyson Sphere.

That said, not sure if you were being serious or not. But there's the info you need anyhow :)
 

fiannafailure

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A dyson sphere is inherently unstable.
Even the slightest shift in its position would cause it to go tumbling into its star. The same goes for Larry Niven's deeply flawed Ringworld.
Igor Sikorsky solved that problem for the helicopter, intelligent solar wind reflectors would solve the Dyson problem
 

fiannafailure

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Ringworld build with Star at it's centre is incredibly unstable, as it's centre of gravity sits on the star. Check out Niven's foreword in Ringworld Engineers for the data you need. Same goes for a Dyson Sphere.

That said, not sure if you were being serious or not. But there's the info you need anyhow :)
simply trying to be a poor mans Da Vinci or Babbage
 

soubresauts

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... Claims for cold fusion aren't as disreputable as those for, say, perpetual motion, but are still fairly out there.
I suppose so. Nevertheless, Steorn haven't thrown in the towel. Far from it, they're sticking to their guns and continue ploughing their own furrow, with no end of chutzpah, despite hostile people, hostile weather, broken rib, and everything. Anyone visited them at the Waterways Centre?

People talking about orbits and Steorn's Orbo remind me of Orbs, featuring Micheál Ledwith, former President of Maynooth University.
 


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