Monday, October 30, 2006

Another Democrat for Nuclear Energy

Nashville in the 21st Century is reprinting excerpts from Rep. Harold Ford's (D-TN) book, Tomorrow's Patriots. The following passage comes from Chapter 3, which deals with energy policy:

Finally, it is past time for us to recognize our need to develop safe and effective use of nuclear energy. France relies on nuclear power for 78 percent of its electricity. Sweden and Korea each use nuclear energy to generate over 40 percent of their electricity. Yet here in America, we have not built a nuclear generator in over 30 years. This must change. Scientists at Oak Ridge have joined researchers across the globe as part of the ITER Project to develop the next generation of nuclear power – clean, safe and emission-free fusion power. While this kind of energy is still decades away from commercial availability, it will be a big part of our future.
This seems to be happening more frequently. Credit Instapundit with the link.

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Erich J. Knight said...

I wish a few in politics would be interested in looking at these energy technologies:

Aneutronic Fusion: Here I am not talking about the big science ITER project taking thirty years, but the several small alternative plasma fusion efforts.

There are three companies pursuing hydrogen-boron plasma toroid fusion, Paul Koloc, Prometheus II, Eric Lerner, Focus Fusion and Clint Seward of Electron Power Systems

Vincent Page (a technology officer at GE!!) gave a presentation at the 05 6th symposium on current trends in international fusion research , which high lights the need to fully fund three different approaches to P-B11 fusion

He quotes costs and time to development of P-B11 Fusion as tens of million $, and years verses the many decades and ten Billion plus $ projected for ITER and other "Big" science efforts

Anonymous said...

Proton-11Boron is quite an old idea. It was looked at very early on in the development of the H-bomb. It's periodically reviewed in different concepts. Unfortunately, there are many concerns that hydrogenous plasmas that make this one very difficult, namely a lot of radiative energy loss.

The estimate of tens of millions is almostly certainly off by many orders of magnitude. People a lot smarter than Vincent Page have been wrong on fusion so many times before. This doesn't make him wrong, but fusion is not easy at all. I'm skeptical whenever I see a very optimistic estimate for fusion.

p-11B is, for a lot of reasons, very tricky compared to DT. The engineering side might be a lot easier, but the actual physics side of getting it to a p-11B burn is a LOT more difficult.

robert merkel said...

While I don't think you'll find anybody here who objects to the idea of doing research into alternative energy approaches, planning sensible responses to our medium-term (by which I mean the next couple of decades) energy needs around speculative ideas (and *any* commercial fusion power proposal is speculative, even if the physics are sound) is an extremely risky approach.

Nuclear fission is the only zero-emission (well, practically so) drop-in replacement for coal baseload stations available right now.