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Wed May 2, 2012, 07:55 AM

What would really happen to "Quantum Fusion" [View all]

Last edited Wed May 2, 2012, 09:15 AM - Edit history (1)

This sounds about right to me...

If only we had free energy

I thought I'd do a thought experiment. Suppose tomorrow morning a hypothetical university---let's call it T.I.M.---sends out their weekly press release claiming a "revolutionary breakthrough" that will change the way we think about energy. Unlike every other time in the past decade they've made this claim, though, suppose this time it's actually true: they've discovered a way of producing extremely cheap energy---as near to "free energy" as can be imagined. Specifically, they've invented Mr. Fusion, a system that can turn anything---trash---into energy via a form of cold fusion. While it can't be done on a small scale, it's expected to have an EROEI of more than 100, producing power at a cent per KWh. The plants are expected to last 40 years at the minimum, but nobody quite knows---maybe they'll last 80. And best of all, the research team is only 5, not 15, years away from commercialization.

1 week later: Some folks at The Oil Drum are showing some surprise at the results, which have supposedly been verified by other scientists. Perpetual cynics dismiss it as yet another free energy hoax. At this point it's still hard to tell that this development really is the game-changer that is claimed.

9 months later: Several large environmental groups, along with a few backers of the photovoltaic industry, begin to publicly question the safety of Mr. Fusion. They note that since it harnesses nuclear reactions to produce electricity, it should be placed under the same scrutiny as any other nuclear plant. The Mr. Fusion team does a few interviews to try to quell any concern, noting that no long-lived radioisotopes are produced in the reactions. They conduct another round of demonstrations to show that the radiation level inside of their test facility is lower than inside a coal plant.

3 years later: After significant lobbying by the American Petroleum Institute, the NRC issues a ruling that Mr. Fusion must meet the established suite of nuclear safety standards---those developed for conventional nuclear fission plants---including those rules on containment, redundancy, hardening, and safety protocols. The Mr. Fusion team appeals the ruling while they continue plans for construction.

20 years later: Several dozen Mr. Fusion plant complexes are operating worldwide, producing on the order of 100 GW of electricity, about 2% of global electricity consumption.

See the full "timeline"at the link.

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Reply What would really happen to "Quantum Fusion" [View all]
GliderGuider May 2012 OP
phantom power May 2012 #1
kristopher May 2012 #2
cprise May 2012 #5
kristopher May 2012 #6
cprise May 2012 #8
kristopher May 2012 #9
cprise May 2012 #10
GliderGuider May 2012 #11
kristopher May 2012 #12
cprise May 2012 #13
FogerRox May 2012 #3
GliderGuider May 2012 #4
FogerRox May 2012 #7
cprise May 2012 #14
FogerRox May 2012 #15
cprise May 2012 #16