Archive | February 2014

A Peak Into The Cold Fusion Economy

I had a think about the current state of capitalism and its trajectory. In particular, how socialism may arise from post-capitalist conditions. I think part of economic democracy comes from managing our limited resources in a sustainable manner. But I think there’s a fundamental economy which underlies all else, and that is the energy economy. I don’t merely refer to how energy is stored and extracted (be it hydrocarbons or solar rays), but in particular the universal capacity for humans to perform work, both from utilizing this latent energy and our own bodies. Insofar as we reproduce the means of life everyday through our work, so too is energy central to the human economy as a whole. There’s much talk about non-fossil fuel sources and post-fossil fuel economies, which can be broadly categorized as renewable energy solutions.

We can speak of renewable energy sources concretely, but in principle, Newton’s Second Law of Thermodynamics would forbid that. The ability for a closed system in non-equilibrium to perform work decreases as energy is converted into irreversible work. By definition, no energy source is completely renewable, because work cannot continue indefinitely. From the industrial revolution in the 18th century, our rate of consumption has steadily exceeded initial energy input, and this disparity will only get worse into the future. Others claim we need to scale down our energy consumption in preparation for a democratic economy (or socialism).

But I see a lingering problem with this proposal. The productive capacity of capitalism has allowed the exploiter nations to industrialize quickly at the cost of environmental and social upset. The current economy is wasteful in two ways:

a) It has produced excess which is systematically with-held from those who need it;

b) It’s inefficient in converting usable energy into work. For fossil fuels, the average energy conversion rate is very poor. The rest is dissipated as waste heat which cannot be used for work. For rockets, one must reach very high speeds in order to get good efficiency.

In order to sustain our wasteful energy economy in its current form, we’ve had to invest literal trillions of dollars into infrastructure. I strongly believe that our dependence on fossil fuels is manufactured, due to the capitalist profit motive. I believe innovation has been stifled thanks to private interests, and there are a limited range of non-fossil fuel alternatives which would require scaling down our energy dependence. It’s true that we can scale down our consumption and liberate those trillions of dollars into more productive work, such as quality education and childcare. But, I think we should also look at alternatives which could both meet our energy needs and not generate waste.

The central problem we face requires we know about physical energy costs vs.physical output. This is before we can even talk about energy needs. There are fundamental needs which simply cannot be metered. And while it’s true our current system is wasteful, it’s doubtful that a post-industrial nation could be sustained with socialism and windmills alone. There’s not enough productive capacity for that. However, if we could find a way to allocate energy use efficiently, we’d free up productive capacity. And it’s from here that I see post-industrial socialist societies being viable. With negligible costs, there’s no worries about consumption.

There are four categories of technology that show promise in this regard:

  • Quantum vacuum/zero-point field energy access systems and related advances in EM theory and applications
  • Electrogravitic and magnetogravitic energy and propulsion
  • Low energy nuclear reactions
  • Electrochemical and related advances to internal combustion systems which achieve near zero emissions and very high efficiency

The third one in particular, low energy nuclear reactions (LENR), is the one I’m most knowledgeable of, but we can also discuss EG and ZPF to some extent. LENR is the technical name for a nuclear-scale process more commonly known as “cold fusion”. Experiments with it have shown compelling results. In particular, much more energy is recorded being released than being put in. This is enough to warrant being a source of anomalous power generation, and not simply within expected values due to other mechanisms and error. By analogy, merely one teaspoon of heavy water has the energy content of three hundred gallons of gasoline. Your car could drive 55 million miles on a gallon of heavy water, simply by tapping into the fusion potential of the deuterium nuclei.

Background

In the original experiment by Martin Fleischmann and Stanley Pons–and I’ll note this discovery was by fortunate chance–two electrochemical cells were compared. There was a heavy water-palladium cell (D/Pd) and a light water-palladium cell. The D/Pd loading ratio in the first cell was much higher than in the second, where light water has about 1/6500th of its hydrogen nuclei naturally occurring as heavy isotopes. Pons and Fleischmann were recording the temperatures of both cells and plotting it against the heater power as a function of time. Normally, the solvent evaporates as the cell heats up, and less heater power is needed to maintain the same temperature over time.

The positively-charged deuterium nuclei (D+) were packed into a compact palladium-platinum lattice. Somehow, the D+ overcame the repulsive Coulomb barrier and managed to fuse. Ordinarily, such fusion is only possible under conditions of extreme heat, such as at the sun’s core. This implies that a reaction occurred at room temperature where the strong nuclear forces overtook the Coulomb barrier. The two scientists measured nuclear scale excess heat in the D2O heavy water cell.

A source of skepticism was that P & F didn’t encounter lethal gamma radiation as nuclear physics predicts for hot fusion, when the deuterium nuclei fused. If they’d encountered fusion, where was the radiation ? This became known as the “dead graduate student” problem. Three prominent theorists stepped forward to posit possible mechanisms for room temperature fusion that could explain the absence of radiation: Keith Johnston, Peter L. Hagelstein and Julian Schwinger (Nobel Laureate in Physics, experience in particle physics).

There’s something about the D/Pd loading ratio in the D2O cell and how the D+ nuclei were packed in the Pd lattice that induced fusion. D/Pd loading ratios of ≥90% have given good results, as a recent talk by Hagelstein states. It’s very likely that the MIT Plasma Fusion Center used loading ratios well below 90%. That’s a key difference between a negative result and a positive result for cold fusion.. MIT’s Plasma Fusion Center–representing an industry with vested interests–had an unpublished draft report on Cold Fusion (the Phase-II calorimetry report), where the excess heat curve for the D2O cell was downshifted with no explanation.

There were two drafts of the report–one published in a journal, another unpublished. The unpublished curve suggested 20% less (20 milli-watts less) heater power was needed to heat the same volume of fluid. What was the source of this power? It could not be attributed to solvent loss alone, as Dr. Mitchell Swartz showed in his analysis of the MIT PFC Phase-II calorimetry report. The published negative report was used by the Department of Energy to deny funding for cold fusion research.

But there are contradicting statements about the negative report. Teams who obtained positive results alleged that MIT et al. didn’t reach a high enough D/Pd loading ratio for the effect to occur. But then we have a downshifted heat curve. I believe that MIT initially found the proper ratio, but then deliberately used a lower D/Pd ratio so that other teams, referring to MIT’s experiments, could not reproduce Fleischmann and Pons’ findings. This would lead to an artificial scientific consensus against LENR, and the initial heat curve could be explained away as solvent loss.

There’s compelling evidence for a concerted effort against cold fusion/LENR. This is for several reasons, which are beyond the scope of the post. But I can elaborate in detail later.

Implications and Uses for These Energy Sources

  • The removal of air pollution related to energy generation, including electric power plants, cars, trucks, aircraft and manufacturing.

  • The near elimination of all manufacturing processes since the energy per se required for same would have no cost related to fuel consumption. This would allow the full application of technologies which remove effluent smokestacks, solid waste, and waterways.

  • The practical achievement of an environmentally near-zero impact yet high tech civilization on earth, thus assuring the long-term sustainability of human civilization.

  • Trillions of dollars now spent on electric power generation, gas, oil, coal and nuclear power would be freed to be spent on more productive and environmentally neutral endeavors by both individuals and society as a whole.

  • Underdeveloped regions could industrialize in about a generation, and without the negative costs of environ. impact, including health and social.

Conclusion

We don’t need to scale down our energy use for the long term. In particular, our current and future needs can be met by these low-cost, highly productive technologies listed above. The physical cost of maintaining these systems (energy input) is so low that we simply can’t meter them. And of course, to meter means to profit. By definition, we cannot monetarily profit from these technologies. I think these alternatives will be the catalyst to ending capitalism. The primary human economy–energy–will supply our food production, travel, and manufacturing needs. Every industry, every action, requires energy (capacity for work). Without energy, we can’t reproduce the means of daily life.

I hope we can also use these alternatives to power labor-saving devices at negligible cost. This would allow us to transition to a democratic leisure economy. Currently, only first-world nations (USA, UK, Canada etc.) have a leisure economy dependent on a super-exploited class (the third world). There’s a large middle class with disposable income and leisure time. If these labor-saving devices were made available to everybody…there could not be an exploited class. Energy will be available to anyone, so there’s no need to expend human labor. There’s so much work to be done, and yet there are no jobs. This is a capitalist contradiction, and it’s an artificially imposed mindset. Work will be redefined in terms of its social utility, so everyone, young or old, will have the chance to contribute to society and pursue their goals.

If we’re to discuss any industry–even food production–we must talk about energy. But the current alternatives we have aren’t enough. It’s true that some Nordic countries (e.g. Denmark) derive a good portion of their energy supply from clean wind power and solar cells. But this is dependent on local climate, elevation and other geographic factors which affect the distribution of these technologies. I think we can use LENR, et al. to supply our needs wherever we are. We don’t need the blessings of geography–only science.

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