LENR vs Solar/Wind, and emerging Green Technologies.

  • “I know the planet's well being hangs in the balance”


    That is an absurd statement. If you are implying that LENR is the only (or even the best) solution to our energy problems, get real. Putting aside any controversy about its existence, it is unquestionably controversial whether LENR could be controlled or exploited in a practical fashion. Not even Jed asserts that is a done deal. But beyond that, conventional renewable energy technologies coupled with energy storage represents a completely viable path to energy sustainability from a technical standpoint. Whether we have the political will to make it happen and push back against the relentless greed of the fossil fuel industry is a whole other question. LENR is hardly the primarily target of the entrenched energy infrastructure.

  • “I know the planet's well being hangs in the balance”


    That is an absurd statement. If you are implying that LENR is the only (or even the best) solution to our energy problems, get real. Putting aside any controversy about its existence, it is unquestionably controversial whether LENR could be controlled or exploited in a practical fashion. Not even Jed asserts that is a done deal. But beyond that, conventional renewable energy technologies coupled with energy storage represents a completely viable path to energy sustainability from a technical standpoint. Whether we have the political will to make it happen and push back against the relentless greed of the fossil fuel industry is a whole other question. LENR is hardly the primarily target of the entrenched energy infrastructure.


    IO,


    For one, that one sentence is better explained when you read my whole post. That puts it in context. Two; LENR if real, and scaleable, may not be the only solution to our problems, but it sure as hell would be the best. It would provide relief in years, and not the decades it will take for the others to make a difference.


    If this becomes a separate discussion, I will transfer our posts over to another thread.

  • Shane,


    I'm not sure we need to go off on a tangent about renewable energy. I would only say that there are two significant dangerous assumptions in your comment. (1) The notion that it will take decades for conventional renewables to make a difference is only correct in the sense that some of those decades have already happened. Solar and wind are already making a major difference and there are many, many places around the world and here in the US where they are planned to be dominant within the next 10 years or so. (2) The notion that LENR (if real) could become a significant energy source in a few years is pretty outlandish considering it hasn't even been proven to exist in 30 much less demonstrated to be in any way practical. Why would you assume that its commercial development would be quick compared with any other energy source you might name? I would assert that the most dangerous and inappropriate thing to do with regard to LENR is to assume anything about either its significance or the timetable for its development. There is simply not enough information to say anything reliable on either subject.

  • But beyond that, conventional renewable energy technologies coupled with energy storage represents a completely viable path to energy sustainability from a technical standpoint.

    That is very expensive, it takes a lot of infrastructure, and it creates a tremendous amount of solid waste when the devices wear out. Especially with PV electricity. Much of that waste cannot be recycled.


    If it works, cold fusion will be 10 times cheaper than any other source of energy at first, and later thousands of times cheaper. It will be so abundant that at a consumption level far higher than today's it will last longer than the sun. (As would plasma fusion, but it is not cheap and it produces lots of radwaste.)


    See my book for details:


    http://lenr-canr.org/acrobat/RothwellJcoldfusiona.pdf

  • Why would you assume that its commercial development would be quick compared with any other energy source you might name?

    Because if it works it will be:


    Much simpler to engineer, more compact, requires no infrastructure, and the power levels and energy density are ideal for a broad range of applications. Also, unlike solar or wind it works 24/7 or on demand. Again, see my book.


    You are wrong about solar having in impact. It is less than 1% in the U.S., and not much else in most of the world. Wind is about 4% to 7% (depending on who you ask), which is significant.

  • Jed, take a look at the growth rate of solar and ask how much longer it will be insignificant. The majority of all new electrical capacity being installed in the world is solar while coal plants and nuclear plants are gradually being decommissioned. Also look at the cost of solar as a function of time and see how that extrapolates over the next decade as the cost of pretty much everything else other than wind goes up.


    All that being said, is your book going to explain how cold funsion works, how it can be made reliable and predictable, and how it can be scaled up? If I was sufficently motivated, I could dig through threads here where you yourself repeatedly say that none of these things are known at this point in time. Maybe it will be relatively easy to commercialize it if really works and maybe it won’t. The statement “if it works it will be simple to engineer” essentially sweeps every unresolved question about cold fusion under the rug. Given how little is actually known about the subject, I put it in the same category as “if my grandmother had wheels, she’d be a bus.”

  • Jed, take a look at the growth rate of solar and ask how much longer it will be insignificant. The majority of all new electrical capacity being installed in the world is solar while coal plants and nuclear plants are gradually being decommissioned.

    The majority of new capacity in the world until very recently was natural gas and coal, unfortunately. Renewables have not grown since 2014. They have diminished slightly in the third world (Africa and South America). World use of coal peaked 2012 and has barely declined. Most of the decline is in the U.S. and China. In the U.S. is only declining because natural gas is cheaper, because of fracking.


    https://webstore.iea.org/key-world-energy-statistics-2017


    https://www.eia.gov/beta/inter…-QBTU.A&vo=0&v=H&end=2015


    In the U.S. most new capacity is natural gas. I do not have much info. on the world, but the EIA has tons of information on the U.S. and it shows that at present growth rates, assuming present trends continue, solar will not have a major impact for 50 to 100 years. Wind power will. Nearly all of the reduced coal consumption in the U.S. has been replaced with natural gas, because it is cheaper. Fortunately, it also reduces CO2 emissions. A much smaller fraction of coal was replaced with wind, not solar. See:


    https://www.eia.gov/electricity/data/browser/


    Solar is 1.2% of electricity. It is, of course, a much smaller fraction of total energy, which includes fossil fuels for transportation and space heating. Natural gas barely edged out coal in 2017. See:


    https://www.eia.gov/tools/faqs/faq.php?id=427&t=3

  • All that being said, is your book going to explain how cold funsion works, how it can be made reliable and predictable, and how it can be scaled up?

    Since no one knows these things, no, the book does not explain them. I expect you and all other readers here realize that no one knows these things, so I consider your question annoying.


    The book is predicated on the assumption that if the research were funded, we would discover these things. As you know, the research is not funded. Not only is it not funded, but for the last 25 years or so, people who try to study it are fired, their reputation is trashed in the mass media, and they are threatened with deportation, so very little progress has been made. Given these circumstances, I predict that no progress will be made, and cold fusion will be forgotten.


    The book describes the physical charactoristics of cold fusion. It makes the technical case that if cold fusion can be controlled, it will be the ideal source of energy. See Table 2.1 on p. 23. It is a short book. You can read the first 20 or 30 pages easily enough. So rather than ask me what it says, I suggest you read it. You cannot expect me to explain it better than I did already. If I could explain this better than I did in the book, or if I could make a better case, I would rewrite the book.



    The statement “if it works it will be simple to engineer” essentially sweeps every unresolved question about cold fusion under the rug.

    No, it doesn't. There are many technical reasons for thinking it should be simple to engineer. Some are covered in the book, and others in the literature. So I suggest you read the book. I have the impression you are making assertions about a subject you have not studied and you do not know much about. That is annoying. Don't dispute my conclusions until you have studied the subject, because I probably know more about it than you do. Perhaps not, but I have spent many years studying it and I have consulted with most of the world's leading experts on cold fusion and many others on energy in general. You can read my books and papers and see if I made a valid case. For example, I compared the likely cost of cold fusion to solar and natural gas, and I also discussed the mass of materials needed for solar, here:


    http://lenr-canr.org/acrobat/RothwellJcoldfusionb.pdf


    You should write a book yourself, or at least a paper, so we can tell how much you know. Do that before you try to teach grandma how to suck eggs.

  • Jed, as always, you choose to avoid the primary point your opponent makes and focus on your standard littany.


    Now that you acknowledge the accuracy of my statement that it is not known how cold fusion works, how it can be made reliable and predictable, and how it can be scaled up, I will reiterate my contention: it is meaningless to assert anything about the application of the technology, particularly how long it might take to accomplish it or its economic or performance characteristics.


    Also see:


    http://tinyurl.com/solarforjed

  • Now that you acknowledge the accuracy of my statement that it is not known how cold fusion works, how it can be made reliable and predictable, and how it can be scaled up, I will reiterate my contention: it is meaningless to assert anything about the application of the technology, particularly how long it might take to accomplish it or its economic or performance characteristics.

    Reiterate it all you like, you are completely incorrect, for the reasons I gave in my book and elsewhere. You are wrong first of all for simple factual reasons. You assume we have no idea at all how to make cold fusion reliable, predicable or scaled up. You are making an absolute assumption, as if knowledge was binary; we know everything, or we know nothing.


    That is wrong. A great about cold fusion is known, and much more can be safely predicted from our knowledge of similar catalytic effects. The outlines have been drawn. We know that it can achieve temperatures and power density equivalent to a fission reactor core in continuous operation for months, because that has been done. Any engineer will know why such temperatures and power density will work well with nearly all energy applications, except in aerospace. Methods of control have been tested and they produced similar results in different labs. It is reasonable to think they would be improved if research were allowed.


    Most of what we know is empirical, rather than theory based. It was discovered by experiment. But knowledge is knowledge. Nearly all technology up to around 1650 was empirical and discovered by trial and error, and much of it still is. This is a powerful method. Expensive, slow, but it works. Tremendous progress in cold fusion has been made. When people say it has not, I usually say, "If you had any idea what has been done, and how difficult it is, you would agree there has been progress." If it were funded and academic freedom were reborn, it is likely that rapid progress would be made. Not certain, but likely.


    You do not know the details and you are in no position to dispute that, or anything else I have written here.

  • “You do not know the details and you are in no position to dispute that, or anything else I have written here” including, I would assume: “I predict that no progress will be made, and cold fusion will be forgotten.”


    Apparently, all you actually care about is being perceived as the font of all knowledge. Fine, you are the Oracle of Delphi. But presumably even you yourself hope you are wrong about at least some things...

  • Other sources such as the EIA dispute this. It is complicated. For one thing, they are probably counting nameplate rather than actual power, which is a lot lower with solar, because it does not work at night. Also for example, most of the wind and solar power in China is, in essence, fake. It is not connected to the network, and it is not likely to be in the future. The system is very corrupt. They are spending billions on useless wind turbines, while the coal industry prevents the construction of an infrastructure to deliver the electricity from those turbines. They have 120 GW of wind capacity unconnected, with the equipment rotting away. 120 GW may be the nameplate capacity, but it is still a tremendous waste, and it is not likely to be fixed. Nameplate capacity would be ~40 U.S. nuclear reactors sitting idle. Meanwhile, Beijing still has some of the worst air pollution in the world.


    There are several sources for this, such as:


    https://www.fticonsulting.com/…gy-world--fti-article.pdf


    This resembles the Chinese real estate boom, where thousands of empty condos and shopping centers are rotting away. It resembles the bicycle rental boom, which has resulted in millions of discarded bicycles. See:


    https://www.theatlantic.com/ph…d-broken-bicycles/556268/


    The Chinese economic system combines the worst features of communism, capitalism and keptocracy to produce tremendous waste, pollution and inefficiency.


    I am a big fan of solar and wind power, but there is a great deal of misinformation and hype associated with them.

  • “You do not know the details and you are in no position to dispute that, or anything else I have written here” including, I would assume: “I predict that no progress will be made, and cold fusion will be forgotten.”


    Apparently, all you actually care about is being perceived as the font of all knowledge. Fine, you are the Oracle of Delphi. But presumably even you yourself hope you are wrong about at least some things...

    I certainly hope I am wrong about that. But the reasons I make that prediction are not obscure. This is not a Delphic Oracle style prediction. Storms and many others have also made this prediction. Anyone who looks at the age of participants at an ICCF conference, and who is familiar with actuarial tables, will see why we say this. Anyone who has first-hand experience with the opposition to cold fusion from academic and government institutions knows that it is very unlikely the research will be funded. There is terrific opposition. I cannot think of any way to overcome it. Can you? A demonstration of what you claim to have might do the job if it were deployed correctly.

  • "The Chinese economic system combines the worst features of communism, capitalism and keptocracy to produce tremendous waste, pollution and inefficiency."


    I would certainly not argue with that statement.


    "I am a big fan of solar and wind power, but there is a great deal of misinformation and hype associated with them."


    There is indeed a great deal of misinformation and hype associated with them. However, it cuts both ways. Much of the misinformation is negative misinformation. People here claim that Big Oil is busy sabotaging cold fusion. I sincerely doubt cold fusion is anywhere on their radar screens. They are busy trying to hold back solar and wind power and they now have a US administration trying to help them.


    It is interesting that you are a big fan of the renewables, considering you don't seem to think they can take over the energy system. At this point, whether they will or not is not primarily dependent upon technology advancements, it is more a matter of political will and industrial power struggles. If you are really a fan, I hope you are rooting for them.

  • It seems someone deleted a number of messages here, including some of mine. That's annoying. I put a lot of effort into writing such messages. Please do not delete them.


    They are in a far, far better place. :) Just joking. I started a new thread like I told IO I would if this became involved. It is titled LENR vs Solar/Wind and emerging Green Tech. All your posts are there. One of the Admins has to approve it though, before you see it. You and IO keep on. Great discussion. When the new thread is approved, I will move the new stuff over.

  • This thread makes the assumption that LENR will one day be proven commercially viable. Therefore, it is a hypothetical, so no need to point that out.

    I’ll buy that. If LENR is hypothetically proven to be commercially viable, then hypothetically it may turn out to be simple to engineer and economical as well, based on various unproven assumptions about it. Therefore, hypothetically it is a superior solution to our energy problems and is hypothetically worth trillions.


    Given such a rosy state of affairs, it is sad that a cabal of relatively obscure academics have successfully quashed the salvation of humanity to protect their meager turf.


    N.B. This is all a “meta” discussion. I am not espousing a particular assessment of LENR. Despite the fact that Jed always insists that I am not entitled to do so, I hold no definite opinion on its existence or its prospects. In an eerie resemblance to Adrian, I am content to “wait and see what happens.”

  • I’ll buy that. If LENR is hypothetically proven to be commercially viable, then hypothetically it may turn out to be simple to engineer and economical as well, based on various unproven assumptions about it. Therefore, hypothetically it is a superior solution to our energy problems and is hypothetically worth trillions.


    My goal was to relieve non believers (with you in mind), of having to first state it was hypothetical, and that said..... continue on with their argument. I should have known you would make mischief! Now what is it you had to say on the topic? Oh yeah...."who needs LENR, when we have Solar". :)

  • It is interesting that you are a big fan of the renewables, considering you don't seem to think they can take over the energy system. At this point, whether they will or not is not primarily dependent upon technology advancements, it is more a matter of political will and industrial power struggles.

    I think the problems are mainly:


    Money. It would cost a terrific amount to generate all energy from renewables, or most energy. Because you have to have storage and an upgraded distribution network. You need long distance transmission because most people don't live in very windy places such as North Dakota, or very sunny places such as Death Valley. You can generate a certain amount of renewable energy at a modest cost, but when it goes above 30% of the total, the cost starts to rise.


    The technology is not ready. I mean the peripheral energy storage and long distance transmission. It needs a lot more development. I don't think zillions of batteries will work.


    Solid waste. PV in particular would generate a mountain of toxic solid waste from used-up panels if it generated more than a few percent of electricity. Look at the picture in my paper on cold fusion to see what I mean.


    Intermittancy, which is why you need storage, but storage can only get you so far. Thanks to improvement in weather forecasting wind power output can now be predicted days in advance. That's a big help. Maintenance on natural gas plants can be scheduled for days when you know there will be wind. But it is still a problem. Producing too much power from wind is also a problem. Typical output is 30% of nameplate, so when there are strong winds and it goes up to 100% of nameplate, power companies are overwhelmed. That is why electricity is free in many parts of Texas at night. Good for consumers, bad for the power company.


    One problem renewables do not have is supply (total capacity). If wind turbines were set up in approved, environmentally safe locations in North and South Dakota, and they were used to generate a stream of synthetic liquid fuel, they would produce more fuel than the Middle East produces in oil. If they produced electricity they could power all of North America. Unfortunately, either option would cost a tremendous amount of money, and both are technically impossible at present. Synthetic liquid fuel production from coal has been done, but big improvements would be needed. There is no way to economically transmit power from the Dakotas to where it is needed. Perhaps HTSC could help.

  • Jed, those are all sensible arguments. Of course, there are counterarguments for all of them and there are a spectrum of opinions with regard to each as well. For example, your position on battery storage is a very pessimistic one. If you are bullish on the prospects for electric vehicles (get a Tesla and you will be), then the prospects for continued drastic cost and performance improvements in battery technology are extremely good. In that case, behind-the-meter and even utility-scale storage just keep getting more attractive.


    As you point out, supply is not a problem. The amount of solar energy striking the earth is so enormous that the amount we need to exploit to meet our needs is a pittance. Yes, the infrastructure is not cheap, but if the fuel is free and the stuff lasts a long time, the economics are just fine and, in any case, far cheaper than paying for the destruction caused by climate change.


    As for the toxic solid waste... really? Discarded solar panels? Sorry, but that is not a looming threat to civilization.


    Anyway, at least since I have been involved with the technology, nobody has looked real smart low-balling estimates for the rate of progress in solar. Quite the contrary, in fact.

  • As for the toxic solid waste... really? Discarded solar panels? Sorry, but that is not a looming threat to civilization.

    It is not threat to civilization, but to deal with it safely will cost a lot of money. That makes solar much less cost competitive. It produces far more toxic waste than alternatives such as coal, but fortunately it is solid waste and can be confined. There are presently no realistic plans to recycle it. It is not a problem yet because solar is less than 2% of electricity.


    The embodied energy in PVs is also high, and payback time is long, because output is low. The embodied energy used to be higher than total output over the life of the device, making a PV an interesting battery.


    The worst source of energy is ethanol. It is an energy sink. It takes considerably more energy to produce it than you get out of it, according to Prof. David Pimentel, who is the go-to expert. It is a gift to OPEC. See:


    https://www.amazon.com/Energy-…id-Pimentel/dp/1420046675


    Massive numbers of small batteries to store energy would also be a solid waste nightmare, when they start to wear out.

  • I think that if you do some digging, you will discover that the embodied energy argument about PV is out-of-date information. Things have changed rather considerably since such arguments were being made. The energy payback period is now quite short.


    As for ethanol, corn ethanol is a farce that our wonderful congress inflicted on the country. Sugar cane ethanol - as used in Brazil - is great stuff, however. The energy analysis is wildly different in the positive direction.


    Battery recycling and reuse is essential and intelligent. Nobody with more than 5 brain cells is going to dump a 75 kWh Tesla battery pack in a landfill.

  • I think that if you do some digging, you will discover that the embodied energy argument about PV is out-of-date information.

    Yes, that is what I said.


    The energy payback period is now quite short.

    No, it is 1 to 4 years depending on various factors. This is far longer than other conventional systems (except fission nuclear plants). The PVs last about 16 years at which point output is significantly degraded (not stopped completely), so this is about 25% of their total output. The payback period for natural gas turbines and wind turbines is 3 to 6 months, depending on various factors, and they last a lot longer than 16 years.


    https://cleantechnica.com/2018…ack-time-now-super-short/


    The payback time for a cold fusion cell that is left running would be a few days at most. About the same as an automobile engine run continuously.



    Battery recycling and reuse is essential and intelligent. Nobody with more than 5 brain cells is going to dump a 75 kWh Tesla battery pack in a landfill.

    Yes, but when you add in the dollar cost and the energy cost of recycling the Tesla battery pack, the overall performance is not as good as it looked when you ignored these costs. PV are even worse. Look at the size of the solar roof in the paper I published, versus the likely size of a cold fusion generator. The generator is far smaller yet it produces 24 times more energy. The solar roof cannot produce even half the energy needed by a typical U.S. family, even in an ideal location, so it has to be augmented with another generator and a power distribution infrastructure. When you add up the total mass of the solar panels, the other generator, and the family's share of the distribution infrastructure, you are looking at a hundred times more equipment, a hundred times more mass to recycle when the equipment wears out, and far more cost. This is one of the reasons cold fusion would be so much cheaper and more compact than any alternative.


    http://lenr-canr.org/acrobat/RothwellJcoldfusionb.pdf

  • For a “fan” of solar power, you seem determined to use the most negative statistics you can dig up to bolster your arguments. First of all, where you get the 16-year lifetime for panels as typical is a mystery. Most are warranteed for 25 years and probably will last much longer. There are plenty around that already have. So your math is simply misleading.


    As for costs, your table is just wrong. $4/W solar is ancient history. Do your homework. Try $2/W instead and you can beat that these days.


    In any case, you can go on and on all you want about the cost of a hypothetical cold fusion system as an energy source. When you can produce even a prototype system whose operation can be verified by a third party without lots of provisos and excuses, then we can talk. There are all kinds of novel futuristic photovoltaic technologies that are really cool too. Hypothetical machines can perform miracles. I am more interested in the performance of things that actually exist.


    Meanwhile, you are convinced that cold fusion will never be developed because of the forces of evil. So what is it you are hoping for? You don't think solar is the answer for dubious economic reasons. Surely you don't see natural gas as anything but the slightly less dirty technology that it is. So is it: if we can't have cold fusion then let's all go to hell?

  • Personal observation of mine. As you may know, I was a pilot for 34 years. The last ten I flew mainly out of DFW, mostly westward. Meaning I spent many, many hours over west Texas. Starting a few miles north, and west of DFW, all the way to New Mexico, south to the Gulf Of Mexico, and north to the Oklahoma line, almost as far as the eye could see, were wind turbines. Everywhere. Big ones too. Beautiful IMO. Out of curiosity I checked to see how much of Texas they powered (yes, the power is distributed regionally), and I was surprised at the time to see they represented only 17% of Texas' energy needs.


    Texas is an almost ideal situation in terms of the winds, geography, little interference from the environmental groups, and governmental support in the way of subsidized power lines back east to the densely populated areas. So in a way, it is the best case scenario for wind production, yet still can only muster a minority portion of their energy needs. Wind will always play a role, but it will be limited.