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Obama Administration Tests the Waters With Ocean Power Startups

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the wave-of-the-future dept.

Power 144

Stirfry192 sends this excerpt from an article discussing the Obama Administration's funding of renewable energy projects that are experimenting with hydrokinetics: "Currently, the Department of Energy has a mandate to spend $50 million a year on backing such research. For its part, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has approved 72 permits for pilot projects over the past two years , according to its records. Ocean Renewable Energy Power Company, LLC , which has plans to build the largest ocean-based system in the U.S., is one of the companies that has won such funding. ... Virtually all hydrokinetic turbines resemble giant manual lawnmowers, a design patented by Alexander Gorlov of Northeastern University in 2001. [CEO Chris Sauer] calls what his company uses an 'advance cross-flow' model, and he says each of his 150 kilowatt units could power 50 to 75 homes. ... The company plans to install one of its 150 kilowatt turbines this year, and four next year, anchoring them near the floor of the bay, and progressively build out to 3.2 megawatts by 2014. The system would tie into Bangor Hydro Electric Co. grid."

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Coastal power (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36852676)

But still, most people live near the coasts, so it's not that big a deal. Just hope these are durable enough to survive hurricanes, and not too disruptive to the marine environment.

Just don't put them (2)

Quila (201335) | more than 3 years ago | (#36852954)

Where a big-wig senator thinks it'll interfere with his view of the sea or his enjoyment of sailing his yacht.

Oh yeah, he's dead -- full spead ahead!

Re:Just don't put them (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36854390)

Yep. Good riddance to that murdering bastard. Mary Jo finally has her justice now that that fat Kennedy drunk is rotting in hell.

You know what's not renewable about Obamski Admin? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36852680)

A: the Comrade Obamski administration

How is this supposed to solve the energy problem? Sounds like another waste of government dollars. Probably end up killing marine life and stopping waves from happening. That sounds great! I suppose we'll all feel green when they are done.

Re:You know what's not renewable about Obamski Adm (1)

MokuMokuRyoushi (1701196) | more than 3 years ago | (#36852770)

Probably end up killing marine life and stopping waves from happening

You're right, those things might actually happen!

Currently, the Department of Energy has a mandate to spend $50 million a year on backing such research

Oh, so they're doing research to the tune of 50 mil before they try anything big. Problem solved.

The government is probably necessary (2)

Quila (201335) | more than 3 years ago | (#36853084)

Any private company doing this will get railroaded by the "environmentalists." And by that in quotes I mean those people who are against progress at all costs, BANANA, and not necessarily for the environment. You know, the people that caused Greenpeace co-founder Patrick Moore to leave the organization.

At least with the backing of FedGov they might have a chance to get something done instead of having their project put on hold in the courts until it dies.

Re:The government is probably necessary (0)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 3 years ago | (#36855184)

Any private company doing this will get railroaded by the "environmentalists." And by that in quotes I mean those people who are against progress at all costs, BANANA, and not necessarily for the environment. You know, the people that caused Greenpeace co-founder Patrick Moore to leave the organization.

The reality of this is, no matter what you do to generate electric power, someone will be against it and will take you to court over it. These people don't have any ability to help, so all they can do is hinder. I think that many so-called "environmentalists" won't be happy until they've brought down civilization and reduced us to living in caves again.

Re:You know what's not renewable about Obamski Adm (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36852792)

It's... an... experiment. To see if it's feasible.

Solutions to energy problems, and solutions to any problem at all do not spring fully formed from the head of Zeus.

Are you one of those Palin retards that agreed with her when she said "what do we need money to study fruit flies for?" From the tone of your message, probably.

You're also probably one of those believers in the "magic hand of the free market" where Joe Business Owner spends money on r&d to fund things like this. Over the past 30 years if there is one thing that I've seen dry up is privately funded research. It simply no longer exists. No more Bell Labs, and no more PARC.

So tell me, fuckwad, how are we supposed to fucking solve these problems that nobody else is willing to fund the research for?

And it's funny how you call Obama "communist." If anything, he's right of Reagan.

And it's not "ski" you fucker, it's "sky" if you want the Russian spelling.

Teabagger moron.

Tard.

Re:You know what's not renewable about Obamski Adm (2)

0123456 (636235) | more than 3 years ago | (#36852850)

Over the past 30 years if there is one thing that I've seen dry up is privately funded research. It simply no longer exists..

Uh, what?

I've been working in R&D in most of the companies that I've worked for in the last twenty years. So I'm somewhat surprised to discover that I've just been imagining it.

As for this particular 'research', if the 'researcher' could make a good business case for it working and making financial sense then plenty of people would be eager to throw money at them. When they have to go to the government for taxpayers money that's pretty good evidence that there is no such case that makes any sense.

Re:You know what's not renewable about Obamski Adm (3, Insightful)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 3 years ago | (#36852880)

As for this particular 'research', if the 'researcher' could make a good business case for it working and making financial sense then plenty of people would be eager to throw money at them. When they have to go to the government for taxpayers money that's pretty good evidence that there is no such case that makes any sense.

Exactly. Real Research does not come with a guarantee of a payoff. You may have worked in R&D devisions, but they do not do Bell Labs, Xerox PARC levels of research. These days only short term payoff kinds of research are done privately. Thanks for proving the GPs point for him.

Re:You know what's not renewable about Obamski Adm (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 3 years ago | (#36853158)

Exactly. Real Research does not come with a guarantee of a payoff. You may have worked in R&D devisions, but they do not do Bell Labs, Xerox PARC levels of research. These days only short term payoff kinds of research are done privately. Thanks for proving the GPs point for him.

Bell Labs doesn't do Bell Labs levels of research anymore. :(

There are still some companies investing in basic research, but even they have shifted most of it over to application-driven research with clearer near-term benefit.

Re:You know what's not renewable about Obamski Adm (1, Troll)

flyneye (84093) | more than 3 years ago | (#36852926)

Hey check our wallet dumbass!
We can play the horses later.
Lets fund all the experimental crap we've been playing with already and pouring my damned money into, it's further ahead and a safer bet(just in case you're too thick to put that together all by yourself).
Obama isn't so left or right as he is an attention whore.( Wants re-elected and it sounds like you're ready to unzip him and say ahhhhh)
You seem to be an "intellectual" maybe you can put two plus two together for the rest of it. Should taste better than your toecheese.

Re:You know what's not renewable about Obamski Adm (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36853442)

>using intellectual as a sneer

Typical of the Teabagger know-nothing contingent.

If only being stupid hurt.

Re:You know what's not renewable about Obamski Adm (1)

flyneye (84093) | more than 3 years ago | (#36853870)

STFU and take four Advil ,whiner.

Re:You know what's not renewable about Obamski Adm (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36854060)

If you are one to celebrate the "common man" and the works of the "common man" because, you know, intellect is not to be celebrated, why are you even here?

It's amazing how the Teabagger idiots love their technology but aren't willing to fund the science that gives it to them. Indeed, the science is frowned upon, because it makes people like you and them feel stupid.

Well, tough shit.

If you're stupid and science is insulting to you, there is a remedy. If only you would do something about it besides whine and cry on Slashdot about how you are being forced to give up a few pennies to find independence from Mid East oil.

Anencephalic mouthbreather.

Go the fuck away. Go back to your buddies over at Free Republic.

Re:You know what's not renewable about Obamski Adm (1)

flyneye (84093) | more than 3 years ago | (#36856254)

I'll celebrate intellect. When it shows up.
You're the kind of idiot who "Must have money because they haven't taken my credit card away".
I'll repeat it using smaller words for you.We need to continue to fund the half funded projects we already have rather than let them languish while we try your boyfriends new "tech du jour". If we improve and expand what we have quickly enough with technologies already under construction, then there is no need to take two steps back and wait longer for Repubmocrat boy to bureaucratize more technology into existence.
He is only doing and saying these things because he knows you are no smarter than a child who believes everything he is told.
Give up some pennies for the Wind farms, Solar tech and Gosh!, even battery technology needs to come first before 10,000 other bright ideas or none of them do any fucking good. Try thinking shit through a bit more or go ask your dad before criticizing me.
  Microcephalic Buttsucker.

Go be the pivot boy at the Repubmocrat circle jerk.

Re:You know what's not renewable about Obamski Adm (1)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 3 years ago | (#36855760)

using intellectual as a sneer
Typical of the Teabagger know-nothing contingent.

GP wasn't using intellectual as a sneer, he was using "intellectual" as sneer. The quotes imply a false self aggrandizement that "intellectuals" do, but intellectuals do not.

So Intel's been sitting on its ass (2)

Quila (201335) | more than 3 years ago | (#36853030)

For the last couple decades while all these vastly faster and more efficient processors just magically sprung from Obama's immaculate ass?

There's plenty of research being done.

Re:So Intel's been sitting on its ass (0)

riverat1 (1048260) | more than 3 years ago | (#36853504)

All research with a clear short term benefit in mind. How much research into quantum computing has Intel done? That's all university research at this stage with probably mostly government funding.

Wiggle words (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36854008)

"probably mostly" leaves an awful lot of uncertainty and wiggle room when making an absolute claim.

Re:Wiggle words (1)

riverat1 (1048260) | more than 3 years ago | (#36854216)

Yes, I was too lazy to take the time look it up. I'd be interested is someone proved me wrong.

Re:So Intel's been sitting on its ass (1)

LynnwoodRooster (966895) | more than 3 years ago | (#36854426)

All research with a clear short term benefit in mind. How much research into quantum computing has Intel done? That's all university research at this stage with probably mostly government funding.

Intel's Strategic Research Group has about $4 billion a year to spend researching next generation processors, including quantum computing. Microsoft Research has $10 billion a year, and spends a chunk of that on quantum computing research as well. The private sector dumps a ton of cash into basic, fundamental research. But it does so with an eye towards eventual economic returns, rather than research for research's sake. You'd be surprised how much actual hard, beneficial research is done by big corporations, and how much of that research done by Governments is into things like the mating habits of grunions.

Disclaimer: I have worked for Microsoft Research in the past, and I have also performed and provided equipment for marine research for the US, Canadian, and other governmental agencies.

Re:So Intel's been sitting on its ass (1)

robot256 (1635039) | more than 3 years ago | (#36854642)

I'm curious how much of that research that companies do actually makes it to the light of day. Granted, university research is frequently stuck behind journal paywalls as well, but is there any comparison to be made? How much research that doesn't result in a patent actually gets published for others to use?

Re:So Intel's been sitting on its ass (1)

LynnwoodRooster (966895) | more than 3 years ago | (#36855344)

I'm curious how much of that research that companies do actually makes it to the light of day. Granted, university research is frequently stuck behind journal paywalls as well, but is there any comparison to be made? How much research that doesn't result in a patent actually gets published for others to use?

A surprising amount of it never reaches the light of day - as originally researched. Usually spinoffs or alternate applications do ultimately make it into the market place.

As far as universities go, it's amazing how much money is sent from the private sector to those universities to perform research. It's a "cheap" way to buy great research. A sizable chunk of research done at US universities is, in fact, funded with private funds via grants. It's not quite the "Government is the only one who ever pays for general research" meme often put about.

Re:So Intel's been sitting on its ass (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#36855608)

Quite a lot. Microsoft Research publishes a lot of very interesting papers. If 10% of their output made it into shipping products, I'd probably be a Windows user...

Re:So Intel's been sitting on its ass (1)

wagnerrp (1305589) | more than 3 years ago | (#36853768)

There is development and improvement being done. You take an existing x86 core and you improve the manufacturing process, you shrink the process size, you rework the instruction dispatcher, you add a memory controller, you add another layer of caching. These are all relatively low risk, evolutionary improvements, with a clear and near term financial payoff. What the OP is stating is that there is no private funding for high risk research. Intel is not putting large sums of money towards finding a replacement for silicon semiconductors, for the point 15-20 years down the line when quantum uncertainty gives us an insurmountable wall, effectively destroying the corporate strategy Intel has been running on since the 60s.

That kind of research with no perceivable near term gain is the kind of thing that made Bell Labs and PARC so renowned, and is now only being done through government grants.

Re:You know what's not renewable about Obamski Adm (1)

kent_eh (543303) | more than 3 years ago | (#36853296)

It's... an... experiment. To see if it's feasible.

At least someone gets it.

Also, how come the naysayers always want to put all the country's future energy eggs into one basket?

- Fusion is great, assuming it can be built.
- Fission is proven, and the newest designs significantly reduce many of the problems with the older designs. But it still has political problems.
- Hydroelectric is renewable, and fairly clean, assuming proper planning and site preparation is done.
- Biofuels (especially if sourced from by-products and waste) also work well to replace fossil fuels in many applications.
- Solar and wind are coming along in efficiency, but could be much better with improvements in energy storage. (the wind and sun aren't always present 24/7)

Why build only one?
Diversification. It works.
It's always good to have a "plan B" (and "C") for when something unforeseen happens.

Re:You know what's not renewable about Obamski Adm (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 3 years ago | (#36855936)

- Hydroelectric is renewable, and fairly clean, assuming proper planning and site preparation is done.

All correct except this. Hydro is neither renewable (dams fill in over time) nor clean (it's a gigantic mess, ecologically) and nobody should be building dams of any size. Fish ladders don't work. The bigger the dam project, the bigger the fail.

Re:You know what's not renewable about Obamski Adm (0)

Tengoo (446300) | more than 3 years ago | (#36852892)

Obamski? I hadn't heard that one yet.. can someone who speaks Internet Republican kindly explain this to the unenlightened among us?

Re:You know what's not renewable about Obamski Adm (1)

LordLimecat (1103839) | more than 3 years ago | (#36852962)

Clearly he was wrong, and a troll, therefore he represents Republicans-- is that how it works?

Very clever jab, well done.

Re:You know what's not renewable about Obamski Adm (2, Insightful)

Trilkin (2042026) | more than 3 years ago | (#36853358)

To be fair, most people that would make stupid Obama name jokes tend to be Republican.

Re:You know what's not renewable about Obamski Adm (1)

riverat1 (1048260) | more than 3 years ago | (#36853526)

The poster must think Obama's a communist. For the new definition of communism that is. Anyone who isn't in favor of privatizing everything has at least communist leanings.

Foolish mortals! (2)

cvtan (752695) | more than 3 years ago | (#36852738)

My cyber-warfare-enabled endangered snails will bring this project to its knees! or something about not doing it on porpoise just for the halibut. Never mind.

at least post a picture (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36852746)

when writing a shitty PR story the least they can do is post a picture.
http://www.ongo.com/v/1403506/-1/A80D0E2207C14C98/quest-for-renewable-power-turns-back-to-water
and no they dont all look like that :
http://www.nps.gov/miss/parkmgmt/hydro.htm
http://www.oceanpowermagazine.net/2010/12/01/w2-energy-inc-acquires-hydrokinetic-laboratories-llc/
http://luken1.wikispaces.com/

It shoule be $50 Billion on fusion! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36852752)

As the Federal Govt. they should be working on a final solution to the energy demands of the nation not pissing away these paltry sums on questionable methods of energy production. There are two possibilities for long term energy independence. 1. Fission... 2. Fusion... The administration should get out of the way and let the free market develop Fission and the govt should be developing Fusion (High risk, High payoff).

Whoever Obama is listening to on his energy policy clearly needs to have plexiglass installed in his abdomen so he can see where he is going.

Re:It shoule be $50 Billion on fusion! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36852808)

1. Fusion

It is what we need to focus on. Have 6 shifts of scientists working around the clock. Throw lots of construction money at it.

They have the ITER and DEMO concept plants. Let's improve on that and get it done. It might be complicated, but it is possible.

Re:It shoule be $50 Billion on fusion! (4, Informative)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 3 years ago | (#36852848)

Fission is not something the free market will invest in. They never have. So far it has taken government backed loans and government provided insurance just to get the plants we have. I think it is a great source of power, but he free market seem to disagree.

They only carry $375 Million in insurance on the plants and the Price-Anderson act covers over that. This act is so anti-free market that it moves civil suits to federal jurisdiction and no claimant can get punitive damages.

Re:It shoule be $50 Billion on fusion! (3, Insightful)

riverat1 (1048260) | more than 3 years ago | (#36853554)

Re: $375 Million and the Price-Anderson act. So far the Fukushima disaster has cost the Japanese over $240 Billion. If something even close were to happen to a US reactor we the people are on the hook for any costs over $375 Million. No nuclear power plants will be built if it's left only to the free market.

Re:It shoule be $50 Billion on fusion! (1)

bertok (226922) | more than 3 years ago | (#36854844)

has cost the Japanese over $240 Billion

No. Just... no.

That's an estimate by some 'think tank' of the 'possible' total costs for the next decade. So even if it were true, it's just $25B/yr, or about 1/4 the annual cost of the war in Iraq.

It can't possibly be the total cost so far -- there's literally no way to buy stuff that is that expensive and make use of it in a constructive way in such a short period of time.

To put it another way, all money spent eventually becomes labor. Raw materials are priced essentially by the labor required to obtain them, as is energy. Even if the money was spent on quite expensive people, such as nuclear technicians, at an annual salary of say $300K, your quote of $240B spent would be the equivalent of 2.27 million such professional people working full time over the 134 days since the accident.

What could 2.27 million people possibly be doing? It would be impossible to fit even 1% of them onto the area of the plant! The materials and technologies used for the cleanup are quite ordinary and cheap, and can be applied using simple techniques. Think soap and water!

More realistic estimates from reputable sources are around $10B over a decade. That sounds about right for a large and complex engineering project like a nuclear cleanup involving hundreds of specialist technicians.

To put it another way, there are 442 nuclear reactors around the world used to generate power, and 2 have had a major disasters costing about a billion dollars per year. That works out to something like $2B/yr / 442 reactors = $4.5M/yr/reactor. That's a negligible overhead, and easily handled by private insurance.

Re:It shoule be $50 Billion on fusion! (2)

riverat1 (1048260) | more than 3 years ago | (#36854908)

I think you're right, the $240 billion is probably and estimate of the total cost and may be on the high side depending on a lot of factors. But you can't tell me that the total cost of Fukushima is not going to be higher than the $375 million limit of private liability in the Price-Anderson Act and no doubt several multiples of that.

No private insurance company is willing to take on the potential liability of a nuclear plant without government guarantees to back them up.

Re:It shoule be $50 Billion on fusion! (1)

bertok (226922) | more than 3 years ago | (#36855038)

Maybe, but throwing around numbers that are 25x higher than a realistic estimate and pretending that it is being spent at 30x of the actual rate makes it sound like a nuclear accident would instantly bankrupt even a large insurer, when in reality it would do no such thing.

Many insurance companies could handle $1B/yr, and there's nothing wrong with governments providing extra protection, like they do with banks.

And anyway, who cares how nuclear power is insured? You either pay for it directly through the cost of insurance that's factored into the electricity bill, or indirectly via your taxes. Either way, the cost is roughly the same, and not very large.

Re:It shoule be $50 Billion on fusion! (1)

dasunt (249686) | more than 3 years ago | (#36854968)

$375 Million and the Price-Anderson act. So far the Fukushima disaster has cost the Japanese over $240 Billion.

Actually, estimated at $70 billion to $240 billion for the next 10 years [greenaction-japan.org] .

Hmmm, so $7 to $24 billion a year.

Lets see. Fossil fuels fine particle pollution kills over 13,000 [www.catf.us] people a year in the US, mostly from coal. So if a human life is worth $540,000 to $1,850,000, we've matched that in the human cost alone for power plants operating normally in the US.

But it looks like the value of a human life comes in at $5 million in the US, on the low end [care2.com] . So normally operating non-nuclear plants in the US are costing us $650 billion in the human cost alone for the next 10 years.

For a free market, it seems like no coal power plants would be built. Even considering the difference in how much total power comes from coal vs nuclear, coal seems much, much more expensive.

Re:It shoule be $50 Billion on fusion! (2)

wagnerrp (1305589) | more than 3 years ago | (#36853808)

Fission is not something the free market will invest in because the fact that were still running 40yr old reactor designs, restricted from fuel reprocessing, and stuck using expensive and rare U235, in addition to all the bureaucracy needed to install a new plant, means that by the time you get the thing built, it will be several decades before you recoup its cost, at which time it's nearing its end of life and will need to be replaced.

Re:It shoule be $50 Billion on fusion! (1)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 3 years ago | (#36853440)

there is only one way to answer a question no one has asked... but this one has been asked and has been successful in most cases. The easy way is a large float connected to a crank-arm.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wave_power [wikipedia.org]

Re:It shoule be $50 Billion on fusion! (2)

wierd_w (1375923) | more than 3 years ago | (#36853574)

Fusion?

I had a random idea several months ago that I think might work but would be impractical in the "We need metric shit-tons of energy *NAOW!*" climate we live in.

Basically, the main problems with current fusion systems are the following:

Concentrating the plasma tight enough to release over unity energy directly often causes pinching of the magnetic confinement feild, cutting off plasma flow, and killing the fusion reaction. (A little like turning the gas up too high on a cutting torch blows the flame out, only in this case the confinement snaps the plasma stream, making it stop conducting electricity, causing the plasma to disperse violently, such as in Z-Pinch type devices.)

Instances where the magnetic confinement field does not pinch off the plasma flow often are extremely expensive to operate under, requiring lots of power to contain/maintain the fusion. (Currently more than is usefully generated by the reaction-- Such as in Tokamak style fusors.)

Low energy confinement fusion favors production of neutrons which are useless for power generation, and difficult to shield. (Such as found in Farnsworth type fusors.)

It was the last one that gave me the idea:

Carbon 14 is a neutron bombardment synthesized isotope of carbon, created from nitrogen atoms. It is also beta-voltaic. It decays back into nitrogen after emitting a high energy electron, and a (Tau?) neutrino. When assembled into nanostructures, it is also highly conductive in and of itself, just like carbon 12.

Because of these properties of carbon 14, I had the strange idea that if you surrounded a farnsworth type fusor (The easiest to construct of the 3 types above.) with a large metal spherical capsule, filled with carbon aerogel and liquid nitrogen (which does not need to be refrigerated or circulated once installed. The vessel is meant to be pressurized to maintain fluidity of the contents.) you could effectively use this shell as a neutron conversion catalyst to convert neutron emissions into high energy electron emissions, gather them up, and channel them for power generation.

The carbon aeogel inside the vessel does not need to be C14. It can be ordinary C12 and work just fine. It functions as the cathode matrix for the beta-voltaic emissions of the C14 that gets developed inside the converter. Since it is ALREADY a highly porous nanostructural carbon material, it conducts electricity fairly well, and can be totally immersed in the liquid nitrogen reactant.

As the neutrons from the farnsworth fusor pass through the catalyst, they get absorbed by the nitrogen atoms, turning them into C14 atoms. These atoms would be energetic, and would tend to "cling" to the existing carbon nano-structures of the aerogel. As they decay, the turn back into nitrogen, and detach.

After a sufficient incubation period, the device should be capable of turning an otherwise "Hobby novelty only" farnsworth into a useful power generating device.

Problems:

Size. The catalyst chamber would need to be very large to have reasonably good statistical rate of neutron capture, even with highly pressurized nitrogen inside.

Cost. Carbon aerogel is expensive... (Liquid nitrogen is fairly cheap. Cheaper than beer.)

Time. It would take a considerable charging period before useful power output would be detected from the catalyst system.

Pros:

C14 has an obscenely long half-life. The catalyst layer would continue to produce electrical energy for extended periods of time, even with the fusion reaction totally shut off. (Arguably thousands of years.....)

Production of carbon isotopes intrinsically within the catalyst layer would actively regenerate damage to the nanostructures of the cathode, which normally plagues betavoltaic devices.
The high energy nature would help to ensure tight ring structures like fullerene cages and the like.

Unknowns:
Ideal hardness and energy level of harvested neutronic emissions for ideal C14 creation in the cataylst. Reason: Fucking paywalls.
Ideal thickness of catalyst layer for optimal absorbtion. Reason: Fucking paywalls.

Re:It shoule be $50 Billion on fusion! (1)

lefteyecc (2256776) | more than 3 years ago | (#36854614)

I am not a scientist but why do you not have any replies? Seems like people on this site would rather spout political retardation than argue or dicuss anything positive and related to the topic. Does anyone smart have any replies to this?...this is very interesting...

Re:It shoule be $50 Billion on fusion! (1)

yacwroy (1558349) | more than 3 years ago | (#36855284)

Disclaimer: IANANS

Is this what you mean?

1: Fusor in centre radiates neutrons.
2: Neutrons convert N14 to C14 in capsule.
3: The concentration of C14 eventually becomes high enough that it's decay releases useful amounts of energy.
4: The C14 decays back into N14, releasing electrons (-) and (wikipedia) electron antineutrinos. The N14 is short 1 electron (initially, on average) and thus acts as a cathode.
5. The released electrons are captured in an anode.
6: The cathode and anode are used to drive a transforming system that then powers the grid.

Questions:

1: Where is the anode (step 5)? Is this perhaps an outer shell?

Initial thoughts.

1: Won't the vast majority of electrons get re-absorbed by the cathode (any emissions not from the outermost part of the gel or not emitted in the right direction), such that the major ultimate power output of the decay process is thermal.
2: Won't the electrons that do get emitted lose their energy (thermal loss) ploughing through the liquid nitrogen?
3: Any electrons that do strike the anode will still have some kinetic energy which will again be converted to thermal.
4: You have to have enough separation, or low enough voltage, to prevent a short back through your liquid nitrogen.

To me it seems this would produce thermal energy many orders of magnitude higher than direct electrical energy.

However, some version of this electron capture idea might be viable in another form (perhaps create heaps of C14 then reprocess it as ultra-thin shaped sheets with magnetic fields to attempt to focus the emissions with little excess kinetic energy).

Once again, IANANS.

Re:It shoule be $50 Billion on fusion! (1)

TheTurtlesMoves (1442727) | more than 3 years ago | (#36855866)

You have unfortunately totally underestimated the lack of effectiveness of a fusor. Sure you can detect neutrons from them, thats because the type of instruments used count single neutrons. While 14 grams of Nitrogen contains 6x10^23 atoms. The best fusors get about 10^10 neutrons per second (most get much much less), this will take 1.9 million years to produce enough neutrons to transmutate just 14grams of nitrogen. I don't recall the reaction, but I don't thing 14N does transmutate to 14C with the addition of a neutron. The numbers don't add up.

Lets see what it will take to get a strong enough neutron source. Lets say we want that 14g of 13C in 1 week. So we need 992x10^15 neutrons per second. At 2.45MeV (DD neutrons) per neutron that is 389kW of power in the neutrons alone. The total power burn of DD would be about twice that --In other words you need the order of 1MW of fusion power (DT would need less total power, but more would be in the neutrons).

If you want to transmute any significant quantity of something from a neutron source, its also a power source in its own right.

Wul, Gosh! (0)

flyneye (84093) | more than 3 years ago | (#36852774)

Why not? After all the Obama Administration spent $350,000 per household getting western Kansas internet 4 times faster than mine at tax payer expense.
Why the hell just not put money into any damn thing we can think of instead of furthering feasible things that exist?
God I love a man who can throw that money around like it was his and not mine. The f***head,,,

Re:Wul, Gosh! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36852882)

>$350,000 per household

Citation needed or shut the fuck up.

Re:Wul, Gosh! (1)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 3 years ago | (#36852956)

>$350,000 per household

Citation needed or shut the fuck up.

citation [broadbandbreakfast.com]

Biofouling (1)

goodmanj (234846) | more than 3 years ago | (#36852828)

One word: biofouling. [wikipedia.org]

Re:Biofouling (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36853160)

Several more words: maybe the expert engineers who are paid and trained to think of these things already did.

Or maybe you're the only one smart enough to think of it.

Which do you think it is?

Re:Biofouling (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 3 years ago | (#36853450)

I'm sure they know this well in advance, but actively choose not to mention it. The idea being that should this investment take off, you can tackle that other problem later. No need to deal with it now.

Ya, it's a short-sided view of it all but nothing unusual in practice with any large and new deployment of technology. Take Nuclear for example. We all know what it can provide and the huge potential for its future. But maintenance cost and safety inspections can get rather expensive.

Re:Biofouling (4, Informative)

goodmanj (234846) | more than 3 years ago | (#36853840)

Original poster here. I'm an oceanographer -- a physicist, not an ocean engineer, but I've talked with enough marine engineers to know about the issues. Designing instruments that operate unattended for long periods of time in the ocean without getting covered with barnacles, slime, worms, algae, and all manner of crap is one of the big unsolved problems in our field. Our best solution to the problem is to minimize the number of moving parts, and to keep most of the equipment well below the photic zone (the sunlit shallows where most of the life hangs out). Neither of these is possible for a hydrokinetic marine turbine.

(Random anecdote: another problem we have is that devices that carry electric current tend to get attacked by sharks, which have delicate electrosensory organs, so cables need special anti-shark armor.)

Another commenter mentioned corrosion: that's fairly easy to deal with using a sacrificial anode (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Galvanic_anode). But biofouling is a lot harder to deal with. I'm willing to believe that the designers of this system have a solution, but only after they've successfully operated a turbine for several years without problems.

Re:Biofouling (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36855944)

Then why not design so that maintenance is easy. Like making sure that the setup is not rigid but can be easily hauled up, cleaned and submerged again.

Like in this example: http://thefirst12.blogspot.com/2009/02/effective-way-to-harvest-power-of-ocean.html [blogspot.com]

Re:Biofouling (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#36855616)

the expert engineers who are paid and trained to think of these things

Sadly, in a lot of industrial projects, the engineers are trained to think of these things and then paid not to think of them...

Re:Biofouling (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 3 years ago | (#36853480)

One hypenated word: anti-biofouling.

You may have heard of it, it's the second section on that wiki page you cited. I skimmed it. It does not say "Impossible, abandon all hope."

Re:Biofouling (1)

Isaac-1 (233099) | more than 3 years ago | (#36853542)

Not just biofouling, but also corrosion, any metal you place around sea water will corrode, this thing is big, lots of required metal parts, in a highly corrosive environment, your $$$ per watt over the life of the unit would likely be lower with almost any other form of alternative power generation. I am all for tidal power in theory, but this is not it.

Re:Biofouling (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36853598)

I am all for tidal power in theory, but this is not it.

Unless you're a tidal power engineer, you're not qualified to make that assessment, are you?

Re:Biofouling (1)

Scarletdown (886459) | more than 3 years ago | (#36853868)

I am all for tidal power in theory, but this is not it.

Unless you're a tidal power engineer, you're not qualified to make that assessment, are you?

Protip: You don't have to be professionally trained and certified in a field to be able to understand and engage in intelligent discussions about the subject matter, or to be able to have insights that the professionally trained members of the field could have possibly missed.

Re:Biofouling (2)

rtb61 (674572) | more than 3 years ago | (#36854526)

Once you have suburbia, the better method is distributed power generation via solar panels and vertical wind turbines http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vertical_axis_wind_turbine [wikipedia.org] (take up less space, spin slower ie less of bird threat and quieter).

Rather than subsidising, better to buy out patents and offer them patent free (when locally manufactured). Promote development of lower cost production techniques. Most importantly promote open free of patent encumbrances (for local production) to accelerate development.

With suburbia already covering thousands of square kilometres, getting those roofs producing energy makes more sense, especially when consumers themselves would pay all of or a substantial portion of the capital costs, perhaps even very low interest loans to accelerate the uptake.

So solar panel roofs with vertical axis wind turbines distributed along the ridges, makes a lot more sense.

Re:Biofouling (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 3 years ago | (#36855890)

Wind turbines don't make sense in suburbia, because they make noise. Ever been inside an operating windmill? Want to live right under one turning around on its bearings at night when you're trying to sleep, mounted to the stick structure of your house? The whole house will vibrate in any good wind.

Further, most of suburbia was designed by total fucking idiots. Houses don't face the sun! They don't even have passive solar construction, which offers a better return than any active solar technology, because it costs basically nothing if it's done when the house is built. Not only do you need a sun-facing roof, but it must never be occluded. Otherwise you can't break even on solar even where there are incentives, because you need "extra" panels. And you don't put a solar system on a house that's got problems, either... so only maybe 15% of the roofs out there are suitable homes for panels.

I believe in local generation of power but this is something that must be designed into society. You can put wind turbines on malls and such because nobody sleeps there, but not on dwellings.

Re:Biofouling (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36854174)

Plastics.

Re:Biofouling (1)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 3 years ago | (#36854656)

One word: biofouling.

Somebody call Mike Rowe.

Hopenchange - deluded pipe dreams (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36852878)

How many millions of dollars are some Obama cronies going to make off this?

GE, support Obama? Pay no taxes!

Support Obama, get a waiver from Obamacare!

informative 7agorzfagorz (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36852898)

Gravitational issues? (1)

bobstreo (1320787) | more than 3 years ago | (#36852940)

So if they build a bunch of these will it cause any issues with tides, speed of rotation of the earth or anything?

Re:Gravitational issues? (1)

jfengel (409917) | more than 3 years ago | (#36853004)

They'd have to build billions of them to have a noticeable effect. They have to be built fairly close to land; otherwise you can't get the power where you need it. The shorelines are a trivial fraction of the ocean, so even if you covered every shore with them you wouldn't absorb enough tidal energy to affect the motion of the earth.

Unlike the atmosphere, a thin layer of very non-dense air, you're talking about the motion of the entire earth, a vastly larger amount of mass, by a half-dozen orders of magnitude.

As with the atmosphere, you might be able to cause some environmental issues, but the planet as a whole doesn't much notice what we do.

Re:Gravitational issues? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36853838)

That is also true for poisoning the entire atmosphere. Doesn't mean it's a good idea. ;)

I think: Why do it, when you can do something that is not only way better, cheaper, easier to repair and environmentally friendly, but even has a positive effect on the environment!
I talk about Project Desertec [wikipedia.org] . (Concentrated solar power in the south + pumped-storage hydroelectricity in the north, with high-voltage DC wires in-between.)

The mirrors have been found to collect a bit of water from the air, and shade the sand, allowing plants and small animals to thrive in the previously dead sand. If built at a place where it doesn't take away vapor that would be needed somewhere else, I don't know a single solution with that little downsides.

The only problem would be, if you build the things in foreign countries. But the US has enough hot dead desert in Arizona alone, to power the entire US multiple times over. So this is a non-issue for you.

Re:Gravitational issues? (1)

bobstreo (1320787) | more than 3 years ago | (#36854172)

Ok good, they can build all of them they want to. Preferable near places where wealthy people have spent way too much
money on their summer enclaves.

Re:Gravitational issues? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36853122)

Oh Gawd...Shut the FUCK UP!

Obviously the microwave towers have scrambled you brains.

Re:Gravitational issues? (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 3 years ago | (#36855220)

Oh Gawd...Shut the FUCK UP!

Obviously the microwave towers have scrambled you brains.

They stopped using the towers years ago because we were on to them. Now they use satellites. Much harder to detect.

Re:Gravitational issues? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36853728)

They use waves, not tides to generate power.

What they should attempt (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36853114)

is coupling ocean wave power, solar power, and wind power with producing hydrogen from water. Use the "free" fuel available to manufacture and store hydrogen, and pipe it around the country for use in large distributed fuel cells. There are many technology hurdles due to storage, transportation, and large consumption of hydrogen, fuel cell development and use of inverters, but it's a scale up from what there is today. All the technology is well understood. It won't knock nuclear, coal, or gas off the base load market but it could replace a majority of the peaking power which is today produced by gas turbines and old steam boilers. I understand NREL has looked at this before. As a power plant engineer for the past 30 years I've worked on many projects, and this is one that I wouldn't mind hanging my hat on.

hey! (1)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 3 years ago | (#36853344)

that is less than a fraction of the Constellation program and it might produce results that benifits mankind here on earth for generations, and not some future man in year 3000 on Uranus

Re:hey! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36854242)

...not some future man in year 3000 on Uranus

Oh, I guess the song will have to be rewritten.

In the year 3535,
Mankind will not survive
Uranus wont provide
And they die-eeeeeee
...

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle (1)

10101001 10101001 (732688) | more than 3 years ago | (#36853572)

There's an odd little paradox I've thought about. Why is it that California, a bastion of environmentalism, large bulging government, and tons of regulation, has such a relatively robust economy compared to most other US states? Cheap labor? No, there's lots of migrant workers in the US. Perhaps it's ready access to electricity and oil? No, California is pretty notorious for having higher electricity and gas prices.

Maybe, then, it has something to do with recycling. Consider Japan which has virtually no natural resources to rely upon, including oil, which also has a robust economy and electricity availability troubles. To that end, recycling is a major economic consideration precisely because recycling is less energy intensive, especially for things like aluminum production. And as much as it has been noted that energy efficient standards, which California strongly pushes, can have the paradoxical effect of increasing energy consumption, it also tends to translates into completing more effective work--imagine the person who can complete one task with a gallon of gas in a 30MPG car vs the person who completes two tasks with one and a half gallons of gas in a 50MPG car.

Of course, in Japan recycling is a government pushed civic duty. And in California, it's a socially pushed norm invoked by environmentalist. Meanwhile, in a large part of the US, recycling is at best haphazardly followed and usually only the more economically advantageous parts, like aluminum can collection.

With the mindset of individualism and even anti-environmentalism and anti-government sentiment, I can certainly see why if mass recycling is a part of the short-term energy solution in the US there's been relatively little push by Democrats for a recycling program, even if they could sell it on the idea of patriotism. But, top down, government funded renewable energy platforms aren't a real solution either, if nothing else because there isn't a joint, bi-partisan support for such projects so their effectiveness is at best short-term and at worst they're not effective at all. Meanwhile, pushing for more recycling is virtually free in comparison. It's ironic to me that conservatives aren't pushing for conserving oil, conserving energy, or any part of recycling as a part of saving money, by increasing the supply of paper, plastic, aluminum, etc to decrease the price. But, then, Republicans are hardly conservative; they're the "you don't have to make sacrifices or put any effort into anything to solve problems--even though inherently we're for cutting government programs on the basis that private/charitable/social organizations will take over--and oh, by the way, we can always cut your taxes" party.

I guess that ends my rant.

Re:Reduce, Reuse, Recycle (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36853848)

The weather is nice, the food is good, and they are living off the legacy of previous generations that didn't have to deal with tons of red tape.

The question isn't how good their economy is but how good it could be.

Re:Reduce, Reuse, Recycle (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36854044)

Did you just say California has a relatively robust economy? Is that why I see all these fucking Clitifornians moving to Texas in droves? Or do you mean relative to the South which is still enduring 'reconstruction'?

Re:Reduce, Reuse, Recycle (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 3 years ago | (#36855920)

California's economy comes from three places. Silicon Valley etc., Hollywood, and the underground black market economy dealing in trading illegal goods; just one of those goods surpassed wine last year (if not sooner) and continues to gain popularity. It has nothing to do with recycling, which is an expensive boondoggle. We lost a waste transfer plant because it could not afford to continue to operate if it has to separate people's trash. It costs more energy to recycle glass than to make new glass; we ought to be dumping it into the middle of the ocean to increase the world's supply of smooth beach glass or something, it would make more sense than what we are doing now. Maybe outlaw the most offensive additives. Plastic recycling is even worse, although we DO now have a barely energy-positive way to recycle all plastics. Recycled plastics are not used for fancy clear beverage bottles because the slightest contamination causes pinholing... I had an interesting conversation about it when on vacation in Panama with a guy who had invented a process for electrically testing the bottles his employer made from recycled plastics.

About the only stuff that is recycled very successfully is steel and aluminum; you actually do save energy. Unfortunately, steel recycling in particular is one of the dirtiest enterprises on the planet; it's all just crushed, shredded, and smelted, and the impurities simply burned off.

I guess that ends your rant.

one way to opt out of this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36853646)

one way to opt out of this government's money drain is to quit the country.

It would have more impact on energy production... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36853834)

The fed would be better off giving them 50 million 1 dollars bills.

It would produce more energy than this idea ever will.

3.2 megawatts (2)

russotto (537200) | more than 3 years ago | (#36853884)

3.2 megawatts in 2 years? Great job, guys. In 200 years you might be able to replace a coal plant.

Re:3.2 megawatts (0)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#36853924)

3.2 megawatts for a pilot project is perfectly reasonable, if it works as well as hoped they'll apply for permits to build more, and probably be granted the permits.

Re:3.2 megawatts (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36854282)

And then eco-terror groups will demand endless environmental impact studies and keep the permits held up in court for a decade. The "Green" movement isn't about saving the planet. It's about blocking the progress of mankind in response to some twisted belief that they've somehow sinned against Gaia. It's where all of the disenchanted misanthropic do-nothings ran to after the fall of their beloved USSR.

Re:3.2 megawatts (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 3 years ago | (#36855232)

And then eco-terror groups will demand endless environmental impact studies and keep the permits held up in court for a decade. The "Green" movement isn't about saving the planet. It's about blocking the progress of mankind in response to some twisted belief that they've somehow sinned against Gaia. It's where all of the disenchanted misanthropic do-nothings ran to after the fall of their beloved USSR.

I read a story years ago (don't remember who wrote it) about a future society where the government had set up a fake enemy for all the fruitcakes to protest against. At the end, the main character comments that the government was now able to build power plants, roads, and do all the things necessary to maintain civilization, since the natural born protesters were being successfully distracted.

Totally unacceptable waste (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36853922)

I find in unconscionable that we are doing this with a deficit as large as ours. Exploring such things when you're in the black is one thing; there will be no return on these funds.

Re:Totally unacceptable waste (2)

artor3 (1344997) | more than 3 years ago | (#36854260)

Nonsense. One should always be investing, even when in debt. If I'm broke, you can bet your ass that I'll borrow money to travel to job interviews. Austerity makes for good sound bites, but in practice it's a disaster.

Re:Totally unacceptable waste (2)

riverat1 (1048260) | more than 3 years ago | (#36854298)

Call it investing in the future. Not all investments work out but you never know unless you try.

Re:Totally unacceptable waste (2)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 3 years ago | (#36855248)

I find in unconscionable that we are doing this with a deficit as large as ours. Exploring such things when you're in the black is one thing; there will be no return on these funds.

Are you trolling? Basic research should always continue. We won't be able to solve our problems until we learn how, and the way to do that is ... research. One cannot reasonably expect all lines of research to pay off: most don't. But the ones that do produce great rewards, and history has demonstrated, very clearly, that in the long run we've always been better off making an investment in knowledge. To not do so is shooting ourselves squarely in the foot, and selling ourselves short into the bargain.

Re:Totally unacceptable waste (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36855288)

And what's wrong with letting the free market do the R&D?

The company that comes up with something like this that is cost effective and generates the electricity we need will be swimming in cash, if anyone really believes there's a payoff to this research, let them do it themselves

. The alternative is government waste' like the NIH studying the effect of penis size on the overall happiness of homosexual men. -- Retarded.

Or you could work where my friend does where they actually have a group studying the distance between the anus and vaginal openings of pre-teen girls and how it relates to the size of their clitoris. That one is FDA funded. Now, call me a douche, but I'm pretty sure that if a private company started a study on the distance between the anal and vaginal openings of preteen girls in relation to the size of their clitoris a lot of people would go to jail, but in this case we all get to pay for it.

Ahhh... government R&D... solving the worlds problems!

Re:Totally unacceptable waste (1)

Ginger Unicorn (952287) | more than 3 years ago | (#36855530)

And what's wrong with letting the free market do the R&D?

The free market is preoccupied with next quarter's returns. There is no next quarter return with basic scientific research. Or next year. Or next 5 years.

Re:Totally unacceptable waste (0)

bobbuck (675253) | more than 3 years ago | (#36856188)

You're an idiot. If markets aren't forward looking, how the hell do 30 year bonds get sold?

Re:Totally unacceptable waste (1)

tyrione (134248) | more than 3 years ago | (#36855572)

I find in unconscionable that we are doing this with a deficit as large as ours. Exploring such things when you're in the black is one thing; there will be no return on these funds.

On the contrary, exploring alternatives to the status quo that put us in the Red is exactly the right approach to finding solutions to strip ourselves of the last century's oligopolies.

Puns (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36853968)

I wanted to throw out some puns to counter the one in the title, but I got nothing.

You might even say that I...

Yeah I got nothing.

I still prefer point-of-use energy.... (1)

ibsteve2u (1184603) | more than 3 years ago | (#36854666)

Point-of-use energy energy generation offers the American people the opportunity for independence from the energy monopolies and the private taxes that they levy (they call those private taxes "profit"). Important, in an era of artificially suppressed wages. Additionally, point-of-use energy offers the opportunity to defund the nastiest of our politicians...a good thing, in a democracy. So support it! [harvard.edu] .

Re:I still prefer point-of-use energy.... (2)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | more than 3 years ago | (#36855976)

energy monopolies and the private taxes that they levy (they call those private taxes "profit")

It should be noted that your so-called "private taxes" differ from real taxes in one significant way - the energy monopolies can't throw you in jail for not paying them.

Though, I'm curious - do you actually believe that the people who manufacture the hardware you'll be using for your point-of-use energy generation won't be making a profit when they sell them to you?

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