California power

Reflections on fusion history, current events, and predictions for the 'fusion powered future.
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Richard Hull
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California power

Post by Richard Hull » Fri Aug 31, 2001 3:17 pm

Well, I talked with several Southern California residents in person about the problems out there with power. One of them was a member of the Stanford Linear Accelerator staff. The ocassion was a Teslathon in the north which I always attend about a month before mine.

It seems that the California "powers that be" are now urging folks to use power!!! A double message is being transmitted. It seems revenues are dropping percipitously as real conservation by users is working to a degree. They are actually experiencing huge surpluses of power in some areas! Some marginal businesses have gone under in certain areas due to increased costs of their power during the surcharge crisis. Others have relocated. Jobs are lost or shifting about. Sounds like being on a consumers tilt-a-whirl!

All of the folks I talked with from that area have to laugh over the debacle while paying about three to four times the kilowatt hour rate I pay. It is a muffled laugh which replaces a good cry, though, for what are they to do? Just suck it up, I guess.

They noted that no real major traditional power plant has come on line in many years there. The SLAC guy noted that if anything is proposed, small groups of extremely vocal activists queue up for a shot at knocking down further consideration of a new facility. All of these groups, according to the folk I talked with, have political clout far beyond their numbers. (th' squeeky wheel gets th' grease)

I asked about nuclear possibilities and all gasped at the mere suggestion, and beamed broadly following the shock of the suggestion. All noted that no living CA politico would even attach his or her name to the merest whisper of such a thing as it would be equal to a self-inflicted bullet in the brain pan, politically.

So, I guess the California power issue is a non-issue as the thing inch worms in knee jerk steps of feast and famine.

You can bet it isn't an easy to understand issue with this or that special interest group issuing demands and denouncing the other.

Fusion is not even thought of out there anymore. It's nuclear, ain't it?

Richrd Hull
Progress may have been a good thing once, but it just went on too long. - Yogi Berra
Fusion is the energy of the future....and it always will be
Retired now...Doing only what I want and not what I should...every day is a saturday.

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Paul_Schatzkin
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Re: California power

Post by Paul_Schatzkin » Fri Aug 31, 2001 3:56 pm

Richard Hull writes:

"Fusion is not even thought of out there anymore. It's nuclear, ain't it?"

I think fusion is "off the radar" for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is the fact that nobody has ever demonstrated it to be feasible, other than maybe God, and he needs huge reactors and the insulation of deep-space to demonstrate the effectiveness of fusion.

But, seriously, what Richard describes is one of the chief obstacles that will confront fusion if and when it is ever practically demonstrated (and I don't mean tokamaks...). After "The China Syndrome," Three Mile Island and Chernobyl, the mere use of the word "nuclear" conjurs up latent images of radiation, meltdowns, and millenia of spent fuel.

Those of us who advocate further development, and, ultimately, deployment of "fusion" will face an uphill struggle convincing much of the populace that it is safe (if, indeed, in can be made so). The jury is far from out on that one. First it has to be proven to be practical, THEN it has to be proven to be "safe." THEN maybe the tree-huggers will accept that it is "clean" and that the fuel source borders on the infinite.

In the meantime, I often use carefully chosen words to judge a correspondent's open mindedness. I often refer to what we're talking about as "fusion energy" and leave the word "nuclear" out of the discussion as long as possible. At the point that the dialog gets down to specific particles, it may dawn on some that what we are talking about is actually "nuclear."

At which point, some people need to be reminded, "it worked for God, didn't it?"

Hope that doesnt provoke any religious arguments...

--PS
Paul Schatzkin, aka "The Perfesser" – Founder and Host of Fusor.net
Author of The Boy Who Invented Television - http://farnovision.com/book.html
"Fusion is not 20 years in the future; it is 50 years in the past and we missed it."

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Re: California power

Post by DaveC » Sat Sep 01, 2001 1:43 am

Well - I live out in CA and it IS confused! The big problem is that the people who caused the mess will not fess up. It was the CA goverment types.. the regulators and legislators.. most of whom have never actually worked in a business for a living. One of the chief culprits is the Governor... But you'd think he is a knight in shining armor the way he gets the press to spin. This is not deregulation, but Re-regulation in ways you don't want in your state. Power costs here are about 1.5X what they had been... and probably are higher than eslewhere. But.... folks.... this is actually what electricity is really worth... Most regulated utilities are actually "dumping" the energy. When gummint regulates, the price is never right.

Fact is.. few people have any idea what is really going on. The utility brass are mostly politically correct in their posturing, meaning.. technologically incorrect in almost every way... and ignorant of the difference.

Nuclear out here is not a nice word in polite, politically correct company, no matter how sensible it really is. People worry about BIIIG earthquakes - level 8 - 9 on the Richter scale - and what they would do to a mess of Nukes all humming away. I don't worry , but they do.

Elsewhwere in the country - particularly the NE, the effect of a very large earthquake would be even more devasting than out here, because of the underlying bedrock efficiently transmitting the seismic energy over large distances. Remember, the biggest earthquake in the USA occurred along the New Madrid fault (Mississippi?) back in the last century. Not sure what would be standing if the likes of that occurred now in Chicago or NYC etc. Probably be a bit rough on a Nukes too... but they are usually better able to withstand the shock than most anything else we've built.

As to Fusion, it's a new idea to the public. All new ideas are lovely and pure and peacful and ... etc. The realities, such as we discuss here are not often brought out. But like everything else involving nuclear processes, until we actually do Fusion for power generation, on a commercial scale, the real benefits and hazards will be a matter for technocrats to debate.

My two cents worth...

Dave Cooper

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linear accelerator

Post by guest » Mon Sep 03, 2001 8:50 am

Richard,

Have enjoyed reading your threads.

My question:
Has any theoretical or experimental work been done on a two-ended linear accelerator at about a 1 Megavolt ?

With two well-focussed deuteron beamsfired end-on-end into each other, shouldnt it be possible to get really high collision probabilities, with a relatively diffuse neutron flux from all along the pipe ??

I am sure to be missing something here, but the back of my envelope tells me that, with a long enough pipe, high enough beam flux and sufficiently good optics, you should be ably to get fusion probability approaching unity.
(I am assuming a sigma of around 10e.-29 m2 for d-n at 1 MeV)

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Re: linear accelerator

Post by DaveC » Mon Sep 03, 2001 6:47 pm

Julian's concept is interesting. Shouldn't be too hard to get fairly high current ion guns. Maintaining focus might be more of a challenge since the geometry is not self focussing. Also, the higher localized pressures along the beam path would tend to increase scattering. For evaluation, one wouldn't actually need an MEV beam, but 20 or 30 keV.

Dave Cooper

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Re: linear accelerator

Post by Richard Hull » Tue Sep 04, 2001 3:25 am

Dave is correct. The concept is good and testable at 30kev or so although the fusion rate would be no where near unity at this reduced voltage.

The beauty of the fusor is the spherical focus, distributed beam currents recirculation in low pressure models, very small size, very low cost and amateur construction possibilities which a larger linear accelerator would not have.

Again fusion is easy!

Efficient fusion by man is non-existant.

Richard Hull
Progress may have been a good thing once, but it just went on too long. - Yogi Berra
Fusion is the energy of the future....and it always will be
Retired now...Doing only what I want and not what I should...every day is a saturday.

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