21st Century Energy

Reflections on fusion history, current events, and predictions for the 'fusion powered future.
longstreet
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Re: 21st Century Energy

Post by longstreet » Sat Nov 05, 2005 7:23 am

I think there is some merit in using sodium hydride to transport hydrogen from fission plants to either distribution stations, or directly to the cars. NaH reacts with water producing hydrogen and solid waste. This is much denser than liquid H2, and probably safer given proper storage methods. And possibly safer than gasoline. Really, I'm amazed more gas stations haven't gone up in flames considering how exposive contained gas vapor is, and how many morons drive cars.

The solid waste (NaOH) only requires heat to reform NaH. There was a company that encased NaH in tiny plastic balls actually stored in water, so there couldn't be a chain reaction, making the storage much safer than traditional NaH methods you may have heard about. They ended up packing it all away and going into the drilling business since no one cared about hydrogen much less anything related to an actual infrastructural.

Of course I have no idea how much NaH exists in nature. But since it's a closed recycling system we wouldn't burn through it like oil.

edit: I should note that pure heat recycling by nuclear plants would be different than the method that Powerball Inc. (the mentioned company) employed. They reacted the NaOH with methane producing CO2, which also was used to heat the mixture. There is a more complicated sequence of reactions that only requires heat energy and gives off the extra oxygen. I'm not a chemist though so that's out of my realm.

I could imagine a whole nuclear industrial complex. All the radioactive waste would just be buried right under the reactors, and not worry about transporting it anywhere. The reactors would be tied to plants nearby by large pipes transferring the "waste" heat to use in NaOH fractioning to support our mobile infrastructure, in addition to traditional electrical production.

“Hydrogen is the smallest element known to man. This makes it virtually impossible to store in the massivequantities and to transport “

This is physically inaccurate. Oil is almost nothing but hydrogen and we seem to be able to store that pretty well.

In addition I would like to say it seems kind of bogus that the paper states that the hydrogen economy would fail because it would cost too much to change the current infrastructure, while the whole rest of the paper states that the current infrastructure is about to fail anyway. Also it's equally ridiculous to stake the potential of nuclear energy on the current, oil based, use of Uranium.

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AnGuy
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Re: 21st Century Energy

Post by AnGuy » Sun Nov 06, 2005 4:25 am

> think there is some merit in using sodium hydride to transport hydrogen from fission plants to either distribution stations, or directly to the cars.

Sodium Hydride only has a small increase in energy density than presurized Hydrogen gas and has LESS energy density than Liquid H2. It is also dangerous because it spontaineously combusts when exposed to air. Gasoline vapors require either an ignition source or extreme pressure to ignite.

Here is a good short article that covers the issues will all of the major hydrogen storage technologies. Needless to say, all of them are pretty terrible:

http://www.aip.org/tip/INPHFA/vol-10/iss-1/p20.html

>There was a company that encased NaH in tiny plastic balls actually stored in water, so there couldn't be a chain reaction,

That would never work because, its dependant on oil to make the plastic, and would generate lots of plastic waste once the plastic shells are crushed to expose the Sodium Hydride to water. I doubt a recycle form of plastic could be used because of the reactivity of NaH and NaOH.

>The reactors would be tied to plants nearby by large pipes transferring the "waste" heat to use in NaOH

Sodium hydroxide is caustic. Pumping a caustic solution through a nuclear powered heat exchanger seems to be a bad idea in my opinion and the required temperatures to decompose NaOH are much higher than steam can provide, since steam will decompose at high temps too. I also think the chemisty would probably prevent your idea from working on a national scale. In addition, NaOH could never be used as an avation fuel.

>>“Hydrogen is the smallest element known to man. This makes it virtually impossible to store in the massivequantities and to transport “
>This is physically inaccurate. Oil is almost nothing but hydrogen and we seem to be able to store that pretty well.

In the context of gaseous hydrogen, that statement is absolutely true. I assume that the writer was refering to gaseous hydrogen. In the case of hydrocarbons, hydrogen doesn't really dominate the molecule as you suggest, since the mass of a carbon atom is a dozen times more massive than hydrogen. In addition the combustion of carbon in hydrocarbon fuels often releases more energy than the hydrogen atoms do. It takes two hydrogen atoms to react with oxygen (H2O) but it takes two oxygen atoms for every carbon atom to produce CO2. In most hydrocarbon fuels only two hydrogen atoms are bound to every carbon atom present. The bottom line is that hydrocarbons are indeed a tough character to beat. Thats why we use them everywhere!
In my opinion, any future solution to energy independance must include the production of Hydrocarbons.

>In addition I would like to say it seems kind of bogus that the paper states that the hydrogen economy would fail because it would cost too much to change the current infrastructure, while the whole rest of the paper states that the current infrastructure is about to fail anyway.

I believe what the writer was trying to explain, is the there is insufficient energy reserves to make the transistion. Since all of the factories, the materials and infrastructure are dependant on cheap oil to function. Take away the cheap oil and the capacity to replace the instructure is lost, because the cost of every rises to a level that makes it extremely difficult, From the steel, to the electricity to the plastics to the workers that live dozen of miles to the factories. All these things are 100% dependant on Oil. All these things need to be replaced, in a time when there 300+ million americans to feed, clothe and shelter, and during a time when less and less hydrocarbons become available. We probably have less then five years (certainly within ten) before severe oil shortages occur. It probably took 50+ years to build the current infrastructure, and it certainly is going to take over a decade to make the transistion.

In addition, most of the industrialize world is already buried in debt. For instance, in a few years the US and Europe will run into very serious financial issues because of the pension liabilities. All of the money that was to be saved to pay for pensions (including social security) has already been spent or mal invested. When the Boomers start to retire (starting in 2008) the amount of required to pay the retirees will exceed the money coming in from those that are still working (in 2012). This will add another significant roadblock to make any energy transformation. Perhaps a transistion could have been made in the 1960's but its totally infestiable today. Back then we could have implement population limit controls, invested heavily in public transportion and we would have and more resources to make the transistion over an extended period.

>Also it's equally ridiculous to stake the potential of nuclear energy on the current, oil based, use of Uranium.

The extraction and processing of Uranium ore cannot be done with out the use of fossil fuels. The process of mining to smelting to U235 enrichment, requires vast amounts of fossil fuels.

>All the radioactive waste would just be buried right under the reactors

In my opinion, this solution isn't really pratical, since the waste will far out last the operational life of the power plant. In addition, if you intend to extract the plutonium to make better use of the spent fuel rods its makes more sense to transport them to regional reprocessing centers. Building individual reprocessing plants at each site would not be economical, since the waste produced at any plant would be enough to keep the processing plant busy all year long. In additon, there are significant issues dealing with the long term storage of acids and other liquid chemicals that are used to extract plutonium that become containmented after use. In the US, it has been more economical to just mine more Uranium than reprocess spend fuel rods. This also doesn't include the storage of containmented items that are used at the plant, such as protective clothing, piping, pumps and other consumables that are used during reactor maintaince.

longstreet
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Re: 21st Century Energy

Post by longstreet » Sun Nov 06, 2005 6:32 am

Anonymous Guy wrote:
> > think there is some merit in using sodium hydride to transport hydrogen from fission plants to either distribution stations, or directly to the cars.
>
> Sodium Hydride only has a small increase in energy density than presurized Hydrogen gas and has LESS energy density than Liquid H2. It is also dangerous because it spontaineously combusts when exposed to air. Gasoline vapors require either an ignition source or extreme pressure to ignite.
>
> Here is a good short article that covers the issues will all of the major hydrogen storage technologies. Needless to say, all of them are pretty terrible:
>
> http://www.aip.org/tip/INPHFA/vol-10/iss-1/p20.html

I would be cautious of how you take results of "energy density", because it's easy to lose all meaning. For example, you need H20 to react with NaH to get hydrogen. Apparently this site includes the water in the density. Obviously you don't need to carry the water everywhere, only when you need the hydrogen. Also there is something funky with that guys charts because apparently compressed H2 gas has less energy per kg than liquid H2, which is just crazy.

Besides, there are many different forms of solid H2 storage than NaH. It is just convenient that the cycle of NaH + H2O -> H2 (H2 + O2 -> Heat + H2O) + NaOH (NaOH + Heat -> NaH + O2) is fairly straight forward and produces no emissions at all.

> >There was a company that encased NaH in tiny plastic balls actually stored in water, so there couldn't be a chain reaction,
>
> That would never work because, its dependant on oil to make the plastic, and would generate lots of plastic waste once the plastic shells are crushed to expose the Sodium Hydride to water. I doubt a recycle form of plastic could be used because of the reactivity of NaH and NaOH.

You are so quick to dismiss all forms of possible avenues, while immediately validating all paths of failure? Why can't you recycle plastic? I'm sure we can find a way to do the job.

> >The reactors would be tied to plants nearby by large pipes transferring the "waste" heat to use in NaOH
>
> Sodium hydroxide is caustic. Pumping a caustic solution through a nuclear powered heat exchanger seems to be a bad idea in my opinion and the required temperatures to decompose NaOH are much higher than steam can provide, since steam will decompose at high temps too. I also think the chemisty would probably prevent your idea from working on a national scale. In addition, NaOH could never be used as an avation fuel.

It's not "my" idea. The recycling of NaOH was already tested by the afformentioned company in a pilot plant. This is just a possible example of how you can tie stationary energy (nuclear) with mobile energy (cars). This is a must to break the oil dependency. But to your specific counter on this specific example, you would not be talking about pumping NaOH into the reactor. You would obviously keep them separated for safety reasons, including possible fires of NaH during processing.

>
> >>“Hydrogen is the smallest element known to man. This makes it virtually impossible to store in the massivequantities and to transport “
> >This is physically inaccurate. Oil is almost nothing but hydrogen and we seem to be able to store that pretty well.
>
> In the context of gaseous hydrogen, that statement is absolutely true. I assume that the writer was refering to gaseous hydrogen. In the case of hydrocarbons, hydrogen doesn't really dominate the molecule as you suggest, since the mass of a carbon atom is a dozen times more massive than hydrogen. In addition the combustion of carbon in hydrocarbon fuels often releases more energy than the hydrogen atoms do. It takes two hydrogen atoms to react with oxygen (H2O) but it takes two oxygen atoms for every carbon atom to produce CO2. In most hydrocarbon fuels only two hydrogen atoms are bound to every carbon atom present. The bottom line is that hydrocarbons are indeed a tough character to beat. Thats why we use them everywhere!
> In my opinion, any future solution to energy independance must include the production of Hydrocarbons.

The problem with hydrogen has nothing to do with it's size. It all has to do with the electric binding properties, not just mass or size. If you just go by weight then hydrogen is more energy dense than gas. "difficulty" is all relative anyway, but certainly not "impossible". So we can't fit it all in tiny gas tanks like we do now. This lawyer is on a political trip, or he would be a bit more careful of the language he uses to describe the physical difficulties. He implies that hydrogen is impractical simply because it's first in the periodic table of elements? That is completely inaccurate.
>
> >In addition I would like to say it seems kind of bogus that the paper states that the hydrogen economy would fail because it would cost too much to change the current infrastructure, while the whole rest of the paper states that the current infrastructure is about to fail anyway.
>
> I believe what the writer was trying to explain, is the there is insufficient energy reserves to make the transistion. Since all of the factories, the materials and infrastructure are dependant on cheap oil to function. Take away the cheap oil and the capacity to replace the instructure is lost, because the cost of every rises to a level that makes it extremely difficult, From the steel, to the electricity to the plastics to the workers that live dozen of miles to the factories. All these things are 100% dependant on Oil. All these things need to be replaced, in a time when there 300+ million americans to feed, clothe and shelter, and during a time when less and less hydrocarbons become available. We probably have less then five years (certainly within ten) before severe oil shortages occur. It probably took 50+ years to build the current infrastructure, and it certainly is going to take over a decade to make the transistion.
>
> In addition, most of the industrialize world is already buried in debt. For instance, in a few years the US and Europe will run into very serious financial issues because of the pension liabilities. All of the money that was to be saved to pay for pensions (including social security) has already been spent or mal invested. When the Boomers start to retire (starting in 2008) the amount of required to pay the retirees will exceed the money coming in from those that are still working (in 2012). This will add another significant roadblock to make any energy transformation. Perhaps a transistion could have been made in the 1960's but its totally infestiable today. Back then we could have implement population limit controls, invested heavily in public transportion and we would have and more resources to make the transistion over an extended period.

For one, oil isn't just going to disappear one day. For another, human kind is very resourceful and we will come out of any “oil crash” that might happen, just like we did the plague and every other thing that should have destroyed civilization. We aren't just going to say it's too hard and then commit mass suicide.

> >Also it's equally ridiculous to stake the potential of nuclear energy on the current, oil based, use of Uranium.
>
> The extraction and processing of Uranium ore cannot be done with out the use of fossil fuels. The process of mining to smelting to U235 enrichment, requires vast amounts of fossil fuels.

This statement is only true in the present tense, and only because we haven't bothered to do it any other way. To say it's impossible to extract Uranium without using fossil fuels would just be foolish.

longstreet
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Re: 21st Century Energy

Post by longstreet » Sun Nov 06, 2005 11:04 pm

I would like to know your source for H2 being a greenhouse gas.

Also, hydrogen isn't dozens of times less dense than gasoline. It's less than ten times; they're on the same general magnitude. If it wasn't so close we WOULD have abandoned it a long time ago. It's just people like their trunk space.

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HAL9000
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Re: 21st Century Energy

Post by HAL9000 » Mon Nov 07, 2005 4:35 pm

Anonymous Guy wrote:
> > The Hydrogen Economy is a pipe dream. This is because Hydrogen gas is extremely dangerous, and has a very low energy density. Hydrogen is dozens of times less energy dense than fossile fuels. In addition, imagine the expense of rebuilding the entire transportation infrastructure, and convert millions of apprtments and home to be heated using hydrogen. The cost is in the $100 Trillion dollar range. Already the avation industry has given up using Liquid Hydrogen as a avation fuel becuase the energy density is too low for aircraft to travel any significant distances, and there are severe issues with handling LH at cryogenic tempertures. Its only a matter of time before the auto industry abandons hydrogen because of the enormous costs of materials for the construction of fuel cells. The average fuel cell car costs over a million USD. No amount of mass production is going to bring down the costs to make these cars affordable (because of the need to precious metals). Combustion Engine cars powered by hydrogen and not practicle either , because Its not practicle to store Liquid Hydrogen (because it boils away very quickly even in the very best cryogenic containers) , and the energy density of H2 is too low to provide a usable travel distance. Oh and one last thing: Hydrogen is also a very bad greenhouse gas (much worse than CO2), and it is extremely difficult to prevent leakage.
>

First of all, hydrogen being a greenhouse gas is a bizarre notion. And either way, it will combine with something (lots of water...hmmm) or it WILL LEAVE PLANET EARTH because its so light. Its why you don't find it free in nature on any rock remotely the size of earth. There are a billion infrastructure problems with hydrogen, especially in a pure form. Engineering problems are as old as engineering.

> A much more realistic solution would be (Coal or Biomass) to liquid hydrocarbons. However the enviromental affects of converting carbon solids to liquid fuels is enormous. In addtion, there is insufficent farm land to support both the demand for food and hydrocarbon fuels.
>
Use nuclear power to crack H2O, take the hydrogen, run it over a ruthenium or iron catalyst in the presence of oxygen...joila, methane. Its a catalytic reaction, so don't go thinking there will now be iron and ruthenium blowing around in the wind.

> If you really study the facts, it pretty obvious that civilization as exists today cannot be sustained after peak oil.

But what about the chem trails? What about the CHEM TRAILS!?
>
> Here a good starting link to read. While the writer goes a little overboard on some assumptions, the majority of the content is valid:
> http://www.lifeaftertheoilcrash.net/
>
> I recommend that you read the entire article and then decide (especially the second page that discussed the technical issues of Nuclear energy and Hydrogen).
>
> Second Page:
> http://www.lifeaftertheoilcrash.net/SecondPage.html
>
> Sorry to crash your future, but In my opinion, its better to know that to remain ignorant!

"its better to know that to remain ignorant!" All your bases are belong to us.

Any of the fossil fuels we use today are basically hydrogen bound up in some chemical compound. When we seek fossil fuels, we really seek the hydrogen in them, and when we liberate the hydrogen in various exothermic reactions for our use, the waste products of that process are the fundamental problem!

TBenson
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All your bases are belong to us!

Post by TBenson » Tue Nov 08, 2005 4:18 am

That says it all.

3l
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Re: 21st Century Energy

Post by 3l » Thu Nov 10, 2005 4:48 pm

Hi Tom:

No offense taken,I used to work for the DOE.
The steam is only an interum step until the government gets it's act together. I have faith it will be done but at what cost?
People have this unfortunate habit of breathing and eating.
In the careless enviroment of today's political climate, millions could perish....while the congress fiddles.

Happy Fusoring!
Larry Leins
Fusor Tech

3l
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Re: 21st Century Energy

Post by 3l » Thu Nov 10, 2005 4:56 pm

Hi Folks:

AG is right on target about how much usable uranium exists.
About 300 years at full tilt production.
Breaders have not been really sucessful.

Happy Fusoring!
Larry Leins
Fusor Tech

HAL9000
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Re: 21st Century Energy

Post by HAL9000 » Thu Nov 10, 2005 8:21 pm

> Hi Folks:
>
> AG is right on target about how much usable uranium exists.
> About 300 years at full tilt production.
> Breaders have not been really sucessful.
>
> Happy Fusoring!
> Larry Leins
> Fusor Tech

There is a very great amount of Thorium around, and I know it considerably outstrips Uranium as potential fission fuel source. Also, only one breeder reactor was ever built to the best of my knowledge, and that was an EBR series out in Idaho at INEL. It was axed for political reasons, under the most inept DOE Administration (Hazel O'Leary) ever in the history of the department. Its problems were not technical, but political.

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