Whorled View

September 18, 2008

In 2030 Japan will have the most powerful WMD, and in Space

I’ve previously posted about space based Solar Power, which converts sunlight into ludicrous-power lasers that are beamed back to earth.  We’ll, Japan is serious about doing it:

http://energycentral.fileburst.com/EnergyBizOnline/2008-5-sep-oct/Tech_Frontier_Solar_Space.pdf

Now, of course, this is intended to be a technology to save the planet (it’s solar power for heaven’s sake), but will require little to no effort to instantly start using it to selectrively fry whole neighborhoods without any warning and with breathtaking accuracy.

It seems this is a technology we should be working on – if only to safegaurd ourselves against others with this ability.  Remember Japan is still the only country which attacked us on our soil in the 20th century.  They’re utterly peaceful now, but that’s not stopping them from building the world’s first Star Wars technology death ray.

Here’s the amazing thing … by thier own admission it will cost much more per MW than conventional earth-based Solar plans so is there an alterior motivation here?  Let’s just hope that Iran doesn’t start building one of these.

There is one good thing about having a geostationary death-ray, though.  They are easy to shoot down (provided that you send enough bombs it’s way to make the death-ray too weak to defend itself).

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November 14, 2007

Solar Thermal Energy: the claims just keep getting better

According to this CNN article released today Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) that harnesses the heat of the sun (not the brightness of the sun, which is what Solar PV does) just keeps looking better. Among the claims:

1) Electricity produced by CSP can be as cheap as 8 cents per kWh. That’s about 20% cheaper than most people are paying in the united states right now for electricity. That’s1/4 the cost of electricity produced by the ever so much more popular Solar PV panels.

2) A 92 x 92 square mile CSP farm placed in the empty barren desert in the SW United States could produce all the energy needed by the whole United States.

3) It could easily solve the desalinated water shortage crisis – which for many countries is a much bigger problem than any kind of oil shortage crisis.

4) Only 0.3% of the Sahara desert is needed to power most of Europe and upper Africa, resulting in a 70% carbon reduction for the region. It will save astonishing amounts of money too as cities must otherwise relocate costing of 100’s billions of dollars, whereas it could all be averted with a CSP plant in the $10 billions of dollar range.

5) Since 90% of the world lives relatively close to desert or to substantial power grids connected to such areas then 90% of the world’s population can be served by this breathtakingly economical and clear resource.

Strangely enough some of the biggest opponents to CSP appear to be a group of environmentalists and key Democrat politicians who seem to be letting expected tax incentives lapse. Based on my last post, you’ll see that this comes as no surprise to me. For 30 years they’ve been trying to keep CSP in the background so industry experts could make money off new alternative energy startups that will never compare with respect to efficiency, cost, and time to market.

These tax incentives for the power companies are vital. Even though CSP may be cheaper than filthy fossil fuels, power companies are making tons of money on fossil fuels. They have the right to jack the prices as high as they need, and at times like now when there is no shortage, but the cost is high due to political concerns, they make all the money. Why? Because they already own such a huge interest in the reserves. The only way to get power companies to build CSP farms is to financially encourage them – and that isn’t happening.

July 3, 2007

Bussard’s Polywell, Part 1 (of 2): the greatest invention of all time?

Being deeply interested in the future of Energy, and knowing the interesting fact that what 99% of the public hears is pure baloney, I’m always on the lookout for the latest and greatest new energy technology and this one is worth mentioning. A little background for you non-physics-types first …

E=mc^2 means that if you could convert matter directly to energy then you could get an unbelievable amount of energy from it. One ton (think of a dump truck full of dirt) could power 3 Million homes for a year. Or it can provide the propulsion for space tourists to cheaply fly around the solar system and beyond, and at much higher speeds than is currently possible. The Polywell EIF (Inertial-Electrodynamic Fusion) device, invented by Robert Bussard who was a former Assistant Director to the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission (AEC), can do just that. It seems to have overcome all the major obstacles facing fusion.

The Polywell Reactor
The Polywell Fusion Reactor

That said, don’t confuse a fusion (fuse atoms together) reactor with a fission (tears atoms apart) reactor. Dangerous and dirty fission is what all contemporary nuclear reactors use. If it helps you, think “fusion = fuse together, or build up”, “fission = tear apart, destroy”. Fusion is usually good because it produces safe byproducts, fission is bad because it usually produces dangerous byproducts and requires radioactive fuel.

The proposed fusion-based energy generator uses Boron of which we have enough reserves to last us 200,000 years (at our current energy usage). What’s more is that the only byproduct is unreactive (safe) helium which harmlessly vents naturally to space, where it is the 2nd most abundant element in the universe.

Sounds better than Solar CSP of which I’m such a huge fan. Time will tell.

I’m convinced Einstein would love it Why not us?

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