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A-L-E-X
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30 Oct 2020 07:25

midtskogen wrote:
Yes, sustainable is a far better word and should replace renewable.

Nuclear fuel needs to be mined, whereas wind and sun are directly available for as long the planet can sustain life, but mining can be fine as long as new areas aren't taken up faster than nature can reclaim.  Maybe we can say that fusion power is renewable if all the fuel can be produced from water, whose supply is practically unlimited.  Like power from tidal forces, not strictly unlimited, but certainly for our purposes.  However, a fusion plant could require large amounts of rare elements to be built.  Power production would be sustainable, but one could argue that expansion is not.

Yes, we need sustainable but not necessarily renewable.  I was reading about harnessing the power of waves, which is also unlimited, but for what we want it definitely has its limitations.  They've been talking about cold fusion using water since the 80s, but it still doesn't seem to be any closer to fruition than it was back then.  When I mentioned it in a discussion, the possibilities of ITER and TOKAMAK were brought up, which may be something we could do on a faster time scale?
https://www.iter.org/proj/inafewlines
How close are ITER  and TOKAMAK to being realized?
 
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midtskogen
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30 Oct 2020 11:17

Cold fusion is a dream, but there is nothing in physics that hints that it should be possible.  It's likely simply alchemy of our time.  Driven by wishful thinking and self deception.  I'm not holding my breath.
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30 Oct 2020 15:29

midtskogen wrote:
Cold fusion is a dream, but there is nothing in physics that hints that it should be possible.  It's likely simply alchemy of our time.  Driven by wishful thinking and self deception.  I'm not holding my breath.

But are ITER and TOKAMAK only about cold fusion?  It seems like they are trying different things, looks like the first tests will begin in 2025.

The tokamak is an experimental machine designed to harness the energy of fusion. Inside a tokamak, the energy produced through the fusion of atoms is absorbed as heat in the walls of the vessel. Just like a conventional power plant, a fusion power plant will use this heat to produce steam and then electricity by way of turbines and generators.

The heart of a tokamak is its doughnut-shaped vacuum chamber. Inside, under the influence of extreme heat and pressure, gaseous hydrogen fuel becomes a plasma—the very environment in which hydrogen atoms can be brought to fuse and yield energy. (You can read more on this particular state of matter here.) The charged particles of the plasma can be shaped and controlled by the massive magnetic coils placed around the vessel; physicists use this important property to confine the hot plasma away from the vessel walls. The term "tokamak" comes to us from a Russian acronym that stands for "toroidal chamber with magnetic coils."

First developed by Soviet research in the late 1960s, the tokamak has been adopted around the world as the most promising configuration of magnetic fusion device. ITER will be the world's largest tokamak—twice the size of the largest machine currently in operation, with ten times the plasma chamber volume.

https://www.iter.org/proj/inafewlines#4
 
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Watsisname
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30 Oct 2020 17:58

A-L-E-X wrote:
Source of the post But are ITER and TOKAMAK only about cold fusion?

Hm? They are definitely not cold fusion.

Cold fusion really means room temperature fusion, but achieving it and making it practical is quite dubious for reasons of fundamental physics. Atomic nuclei are positively charged and hence repel each other. So to get them to fuse they basically need to come together very fast. In quantum mechanical terms, they must have enough energy to have a non-negligible probability of tunneling across the Coulomb barrier. So the conditions for fusion are calculable and pretty well understood. When Pons and Fleishmann claimed in the 80s to achieve it at room temperature, it received much media sensation, but to physicists did not seem very credible, and attempts to replicate their experiment failed to show an effect. It's much like the EMdrive claims over the last few years.

So, fusion requires a lot of kinetic energy per particle. There are many ways to do it. It can happen in a very high temperature plasma, which may be magnetically confined (like the Tokamak design). Or it can be achieved by shining intense lasers at a small target, heating and compressing it. Or it can be achieved in certain nuclear weapons by compressing the material first in the detonation of a fission weapon (a good way to get fusion to happen, but not a good way to power a city.) Finally, it's possible to achieve fusion even at home (with much effort and technical knowledge) by accelerating ions through a strong electric field into a target. That is the "fusor" design, and there is a community of hobbyists who build them. This manner of fusion is not a good way to get more useful energy out than you put in, but it can be a neat tabletop physics demo, and is also a neutron source. The detection of those neutrons is the proof that the fusion is occurring.

The most promising way I know of so far to turn out a gain from fusion is probably through some manner of magnetically confined plasma, and the difficulty is really in how to get the energy out of the reaction efficiently without compromising the reaction or the vessel containing it. But I like to think that we already have useful fusion energy, from the Sun. Nature provided the reaction already. Gravity contains it, hydrostatic equilibrium moderates it, and the output energy falls on Earth constantly. Put up a solar panel, and you literally harness fusion power. 

The dream of fusion reactors is not so much to get energy from fusion processes, but to obtain much more than 1300 watts per square meter of area.
 
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31 Oct 2020 07:28

Yes- that's what I thought too.  That cold fusion was a dream that ended at the end of the 20th century.  I got confused because I thought Mid was implying that ITER/TOKAMAK were trying that also.  I'm fascinated by this tabletop experiment involving fusor, I might try that at home, since lockdowns seem to be going back into effect.  

The way you described what we already have with regards to the sun got me thinking- do you think humanity will ever have the capability of creating miniature versions of the sun to power (let's say) interstellar space ships?  I guess that's what a fusion reactors is.  And when you describe magnets containing it, are they substituting for gravity's role and the natural processes that go on inside the sun?
 
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Watsisname
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31 Oct 2020 11:22

A-L-E-X wrote:
Source of the post I'm fascinated by this tabletop experiment involving fusor, I might try that at home, since lockdowns seem to be going back into effect.  

I probably should have emphasized that while it can be tabletop sized and in principle done at home, it is not a quick, easy, cheap, nor particularly safe project. (Dangers include high vacuum, high voltage, x-ray and neutron radiation, ion beams, etc.)
 
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31 Oct 2020 19:51

Oh I was thinking it would be like a tabletop particle collider experiment.  This one:



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZAmlHSmRXHU
 
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midtskogen
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01 Nov 2020 01:00

A-L-E-X wrote:
Source of the post That cold fusion was a dream that ended at the end of the 20th century.  I got confused because I thought Mid was implying that ITER/TOKAMAK were trying that also.

No, I assumed that you were talking about different things, so I didn't bring in that.  Cold fusion would be a perfect energy source, but the current understanding of physics is against us.  There have been multiple claims of successful cold fusion, but given that nobody has been able to reproduce the results beyond doubt many years after all these experiments, it's pretty clear that the initial results were wrong, whether due to incorrect measurements, incorrect setup of the experiments, incorrect interpretations, ignored assumptions, wishful thinking, self deception or plain fraud.  In recent time the Italian Andrea Rossi has claimed to have working prototypes achieving cold fusion through his E-cat and that commercialisation is just a year or so away.  The trouble is that he's been saying that for a decade or so, which should be enough to draw conclusions.
NIL DIFFICILE VOLENTI
 
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01 Nov 2020 06:24

Yes E-Cat got much attention a few years ago but haven't heard much from him in the last few years.  History is strewn with self-deception and snake oils salesman, but I'd like to think he got overly excited from an early incorrect interpretation and now is the victim of his own wishful thinking and doesn't want to be embarrassed.  But the writing is on the wall as they say.
 
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08 Nov 2020 20:48

New PBS series beginning next Monday

https://www.pbs.org/show/power-trip-story-energy/
 
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13 Nov 2020 15:32

Published: 12 November 2020
An earth system model shows self-sustained melting of permafrost even if all man-made GHG emissions stop in 2020

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-75481-z

In this paper we report that in the ESCIMO climate model the world is already past a point-of-no-return for global warming. In ESCIMO we observe self-sustained melting of the permafrost for hundreds of years, even if global society stops all emissions of man-made GHGs immediately.

Also this amazing new November high record in the high Arctic (78N):

https://twitter.com/Ketil_Isaksen/statu ... 3577537536

https://www.inverse.com/science/the-per ... -is-doomed

https://www.inverse.com/article/54695-t ... ate-change

https://www.inverse.com/science/5-strat ... ate-change

https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/ob ... than-ever/
 
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02 Dec 2020 06:59

New Zealand was the first nation to declare a climate emergency and has pledged to go green within 5 years (for all government vehicles and power sources) and says that corporations cannot be relied on to do it themselves and that leadership must come from the government.  Way to go, New Zealand and Jacinda Ardern!  She's my favorite world leader by far.

the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) issued its provisional report on the state of the global climate in 2020. Key takeaways:

1. 2020 will be among the 3 warmest years on record despite a La Nina. The last 6 years will be the warmest 6 years on record.

2. 80% of the ocean experienced a marine heat wave at some point this year.

3. The Arctic sea ice extent minimum was the second lowest on record and the Greenland ice sheet continued to lose mass.

4. The Atlantic basin recorded a record 30 tropical cyclones.

The full report can be found at: https://library.wmo.int/doc_num.php?explnum_id=10444
 
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midtskogen
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02 Dec 2020 13:26

Sigh.  "Emergency" because some statistics, which in a sane world only weather nerds would find interesting, has become tabloid.  I don't know what "go green" means in NZ, but doing things based an imagined emergency generally doesn't result in quality decisions.  The takeaways, alone or together, don't constitute an emergency in any non-tabloid meaning of the word.  Ok, so not yet and what about 100 years from now?  Better to ask, what about emergencies closer at hand?  The primary planetary emergency is land/sea use change caused by humans.

Quantifying the threats is not easy.  Here's an attempt by the UN intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (from their latest assessment report):
ipbes.png


Land/sea use change and direct exploitation account for roughly half of the decline in nature.  If we include indirect effects of our use and exploitation, like pollution and invasive alien species, it's much more.  Climate change is given a 10 - 15% share.

This is important.  Over here in Norway the "green shift" has caused a significant destruction of nature, precisely what science tells us is the greatest problem by far.  Largely unexploited areas have been turned into industrial sites at a rate never seen before for the sake of unreliable wind power, which is utterly nonsensical as the >99% of the country's electricity is already from renewables (reliable hydro, not even running at full capacity).  Don't underestimate how easily politicians can be duped into allowing such things to happen.  For instance, make them declare an emergency so that rationality doesn't so easily get into the way.
NIL DIFFICILE VOLENTI
 
A-L-E-X
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02 Dec 2020 18:18

Thanks for that Mid.  UN Secy General issued a pretty dire warning today, I dont know if you had a chance to see it or not.  But they pretty much said that we have 10 years before we completely destroy our environment.

Like you, I really wish we had stuck with nuclear power back in the 80s.

He also mentioned about evolving towards a more plant-based diet being important.

I didn't see wind power being mentioned but solar and hydrogen were both mentioned also.

https://twitter.com/ScottDuncanWX/statu ... 0569843717

Warmest Canadian winter night in their history....temps remaining above 60 F all night in Nova Scotia (which doesn't even normally happen in the summer, let alone the winter.)
 
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08 Dec 2020 01:07

In many cases, you all provide very interesting and correct research. But all of this research leaves out a few things:
1) We live in a capitalist world, which means the profit of large producers comes first
2) In many cases this profit depends on cheap energy
3) Cheap energy often produces a lot of carbon emissions
4) Some countries have already started to regulate the use of renewable energy. But it's a small list.

Taking this into account, it can already be seen that humanity is not yet ready for the transition to a new stage of development, which would help reduce climate change to a minimum.

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