RE: Fusion Reactors

From: Glenn Morton (
Date: Mon Sep 09 2002 - 23:30:02 EDT

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    Rich wrote:

    >If we are talking about a 20-30 yr. gap, there are stop gaps available to
    >us. Our current mix of electric generation is predominately natural gas,
    >coal, and fission. Now I am not as up on the exploration angle to know
    >whether there is a similar problem with natural gas (see below) as
    >there is
    >for oil, but there is not a similar problem for coal expecially if
    >you only
    >have to limp along for thirty years. While natural gas "peaker"
    >plants can
    >be turned on and off to match peak demand, coal and nuclear plants are
    >required to have what is known as spinning reserve, basically
    >wasting energy
    >at night. While clearly this does not have the size of reserves a fusion
    >plant would heve, nevertheless it can be used to store the energy in a
    >convenient chemical form be it H2, CH4, or charging batteries.

    I would agree that if there is only a 20-30 year gap between peak oil
    production and the onset of fusion, we might be able to muddle through. But
    it can't be much more than that. Using historical and projected oil
    production and population we could see the following amount of oil per
    person per year:

    Year Barrels Population billions
    1950 3.5 2.5
    1960 3.8 3.1
    1970 4.73 3.7
    1980 5.15 4.4
    1990 4.47 5.3
    2000 4.47 6
    2010 3.98 6.8
    2020 3.17 7.5
    2030 2.82 8.1
    2040 2.02 8.6
    2050 0.84 9.1

    By 2020 we will be poorer in energy than we were in 1950.

    >Glenn, is there a problem with natural gas production? If there isn't,
    >couldn't GTL (gas to liquid) technology be used to create more
    >when the relative price of natural gas to petroleum plummits? The synfuel
    >has nice environmental properties (cetane rating of 75 versus 50-55 for
    >commercial diesel) against other diesel fuel so it could (and
    >does) demand a
    >premium over convential diesel fuel. Changing technology over to
    >diesel is
    >also an easier task than some of the more exotic fuel cell technologies.

    There is a problem which you all might face this winter if it is cold. In
    Texas it takes 22 well completions per day to maintain the gas production.
    We aren't getting that many completions for the past year because the price
    of gas plummeted and no one is looking for it now. That means that the US
    gas supply is short. Alberta is the same. They probably never will get the
    Alaska gas to market because of the environmental objections and the
    deepwater Gulf of Mexico can't keep the supply up for long. If the US has a
    cold winter gas prices cound go back up to the double digits again.

    There is gas in the world, but it is far too often too diffuse to be
    commercial. People who think the ocean bottom hydrates will save our cookies
    don't know much about economics.

    >I would like to make a comment concerning the comparison between
    >the fusion
    >and genome projects. The genome project had one characteristic which made
    >it successful, competitition. If it wasn't for the competing company the
    >government project would not have gone nearly as fast. The Apollo program
    >in the 1960's would not have gone as fast if the Soviets were not
    >down their necks. Nuclear fission power was merely a biproduct
    >that we were
    >racing the Soviets to make the "bomb". If we want fusion energy more
    >viable, more quickly, a source of competition be it an enemy government or
    >an enemy company needs to be found post haste.

    Good idea. I recommend Saddam. ;-)


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    >-----Original Message-----
    >From: Rich Blinne []
    >Sent: Monday, September 09, 2002 9:14 AM
    >Subject: RE: Fusion Reactors
    >----Original Message Follows----
    >From: "Glenn Morton" <>
    >To: "Walter Hicks" <>
    >CC: "ASA list" <>
    >Subject: RE: Fusion Reactors
    >Date: Sun, 8 Sep 2002 19:33:24 -0700

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