So fucking cool!!!!!!

You gotta see this!

I totally love this!!!!

I am concerned that by the time we "get there" it WILL be too late....but it's a shot in the dark.

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That is cool, but may never work on a commercial level even if it can be done in the lab.

More interesting to me is Thorium Reactors, which could actually use up and neutralize the fuel rods which have been produced by the more traditional reactors. They are also much safer to operate and aren't subject to overheating and explosions.

I'm sure there will be problems to be solved, but the obstacles to fusion reactors may be insurmountable whereas thorium reactors are probably much more easily brought online en masse.

It seems as if we have been working on fusion all my life (I'm in my 50s) and it is continually 20-30 years away.

I've always felt that fusion is the most theoretically profitable, but its design time line has been underestimated for decades. Thanks to Gallup's Mirror (and others?), I now see the more realistic prospect of thorium salt reactors, at least in the nearer future.

So I think fusion will continue to get research dollars because of its focus on pure/theoretical science (and therefore bonus, spinoff science and technology), but thorium is likely the next big thing. I'm also afraid of how any sudden, massive increase of freely available energy might negatively affect us as a civilization.

Somehow the word has to get out to the general public that "nuclear energy" does not = atomic bomb and that thorium reactors present far less danger than even fossil fuel sources.

I think we're already faced with the reality that we have already reached the point of no return. Anything and everything we do or try at this point may possibly delay our extinction. It's worth doing. EVEN if it's "always 20 years out." at least we can try.

Since fusion power is about as close as it's possible to get to something like a perpetual motion machine, you can count on researchers trying to make it happen.

They're still working on fusion. Here's an example story I posted a couple years ago, and I've seen news keep coming about fusion work since then.

It just occurred to me that molten salt looks simple and safe enough to be relatively inexpensive, and in fact portable reactors would be feasible. This would be a big plus, compared to a fusion setup, which will probably only be worthwhile at first in huge sizes. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if molten salt reactors could make fusion more affordable eventually, because a good amount of auxiliary power is necessary to start up a fusion reactor, and restart it as necessary.

That's actually true for a lot of (dead-dino-powered) generators today.  If they all went down, for some reason, we'd be really fucked.  Aside from that aside, the power from one fusion reactor could be used to start others...once the first one is up and running.

Could it ever be possible (in your wildest imagination) to have battery sized near perpetual energy gizmos in your devices or at least one in every home (fusion powered or whatever-powered)? Any idea how it might actually work assuming unlimited time and money to develop it?

I can imagine it...I just can't imagine it right now.  And any guess I make as to how such a non-existent system would operate, would be just that, a guess.  It's about like talking about what god would be like if he/she/it existed.

I'm not arguing against researching future power sources...I am arguing against relying on a positive outcome to that research, certainly on a deadline.  There are a number of promising approaches, but promises mean nothing until they are actually fulfilled.

Here was an interesting thought I read one place:  Once we get some sort of big-power-plant cheap-clean-power (be it thorium, fusion, or something else), we could use it to power vehicles even if battery tech continues to suck, by using those power plants to make methanol out of atmospheric CO2 and water vapor...then sell that methanol for use in cars.  If the power was cheap enough, it could be favorable next to freshly pumped dino juice.  It would not add to CO2 in the atmosphere, because it would be carbon that came out of the atmosphere in the first place.  The methanol becomes a storage medium for the cheaply generated big-plant power.  Another similar possibility is generated-from-CO2-and-Water-Vapor propane.

Little "Mr Fusion" units in everyone's house and car appear to be pure fantasy right now.  And the push for hydrogen some people are trying to start is non-sensical--it too can only be a means of energy storage (thus it cannot replace gasoline, which is an energy source) and there are more economical ways to do that.  (Handling a gaseous fuel in a mobile thing is hard.  We'd be better off on propane, because it can be liquefied with modest effort--I have a couple of big tanks of it already.)

Something I just wrote elsewhere:

Is thorium production dirtier than producing and using fossil fuels? Bear in mind, too, the miniscule quantity of fuel needed by a thorium reactor vs the vast quantities of oil and coal we consume, and yet thorium is abundant enough that the supply even under heavy use could outlast mankind.
The reason the powers that be don't push thorium reactors is that they don't produce anything useful for making nuclear weapons.
Had it not been for mankind’s seemingly insatiable desire to fight, thorium would have been the world’s nuclear fuel of choice. Unfortunately, the Cold War pushed nuclear research toward uranium, and the momentum gained in those years has kept uranium far ahead of its lighter, more controllable, more abundant brother to date. History is replete with examples of an inferior technology beating out a superior competitor for market share, whether because of marketing or geopolitics, and once that stage is set it is near impossible for the runner-up to make a comeback. Remember Beta VCRs, anyone? On the technical front they beat VHS hands down, but VHS’s marketing machine won the race and Beta slid into oblivion. Thorium reactors aren’t quite the Beta VCRs of the nuclear world, but the challenge they face is pretty similar: it’s damn hard to unseat the reigning champ.(source)

The real problem that killed beta was total capacity, i.e., the length of the tape.

I really need to learn more about thorium.  I always got the impression it needed to be "bred" into fuel by another reaction (sort of like the way one breeds plutonium from non-fissile U-238).  If that's the case we won't be rid of uranium reactors any time soon.  Even if my impression is correct, it would be a good way of exporting a usable reactor that couldn't be weaponized.


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