Nuclear Fusion Breakthrough – Not So Much

There was a giant uproar, “On Tuesday, the US Department of Energy (DOE) confirmed information that had leaked out earlier this week: its National Ignition Facility had reached a new milestone, releasing significantly more fusion energy than was supplied by the lasers that triggered the fusion.”

Specifically, the breakthrough was,

“In terms of specifics, the lasers of the National Ignition Facility deposited 2.05 megajoules into their target in that experiment. Measurements of the energy released afterward indicate that the resulting fusion reactions set loose 3.15 megajoules, a factor of roughly 1.5. That’s the highest output-to-input ratio yet achieved in a fusion experiment.”

But, not so fast!!!!!

“As we noted above, the 3 MJ released in this experiment is a big step up from the amount of energy deposited in the target by the National Ignition Facility’s lasers. But it’s an enormous step down from the 300 MJ or so of grid power that was needed to get the lasers to fire in the first place.”

So, the real situation is that if we expend 300 MJ of electricity, we get 3 MJ of heat in return.  Then we can take that heat and heat a hot water loop and extract some fraction of that energy as electricity.  Woohoo!

“Reaching ignition in a controlled fusion experiment is an achievement that has come after more than 60 years of global research, development, engineering, and experimentation.”

Sixty years of R&D and they’re still two orders of magnitude away from breaking even!  Calling this a breakthrough is beyond pathetic.  But instead, the idiots in charge of our national energy policy ignore fission plants.  Plants that produce gigawatts of electric power day in and out.  Honestly, we’re led by idiots practicing to be imbeciles.

Well, what can I say?  These people are completely predictable and completely clueless.  But at least they keep Ph.D. candidates employed for decades on end.  Well, the road to perdition is at least clearly paved.  Send in the clowns.

Nuclear Power is Coming Back

Even that animated haircut Gavin Newsom realizes that shutting down the nuclear power plant at Diablo Canyon would get him bounced out of his job as governor of the stupidest state in the union.

He’s put the closure on hold until 2030 when he’ll be safely out of politics and doing harm in some other capacity.

And this same realization is coming to all the other geniuses who thought windmills and solar panels could replace the gigawatts of power we currently use to fuel a modern civilization.

“Across the United States, according to the fifth annual ecoAmerica survey, support for nuclear energy has risen to 60% (up from Gallup-reported 51% in 2015. Business Wire says support for nuclear has never been higher, though the survey also reported a majority still harbor fears about nuclear solid waste disposal, health and safety, security and weaponization, and cost.”

And overseas other nations are changing their minds about nuclear power.

” The British – who are even calling for fracking and renewed oil and gas exploration and development in the North Sea – are bullish on nuclear energy today despite plans to close five of its eight old reactors. France, Japan, China, India, Finland and Hungary are also building new nuclear plants, and Poland, Romania, and the Czech Republic want to go nuclear.”

Germany, Spain, Italy, Belgium, and Austria have still maintained their pledges to shut down their existing nuclear plants but even the Germans with their dominant Green movement, are probably starting to wonder if reality will allow them to do this in the face of the loss of Russian natural gas.

The hippies dealt the US nuclear industry a seemingly lethal wound after Three Mile Island.  But now the hippies are in nursing homes and maybe their just as stupid children may be forced to decide which they hate more fossil fuels or nuclear power.  They’re going to have to choose one.  Tilting at windmills won’t keep the lights on.

We Interrupt This Disaster to Bring You a Sliver of Hope

In my less gloomy moments, I try to think about the things we’ll need to do once (or I should say if) we ever pry control of the country away from the woke bug men.  And one of the highest priorities is to master plan the energy economy for this country for the next two hundred years.

Every twenty years or so we have an energy crisis.  Regardless of whether the total oil and gas reserves of this planet can be estimated in decades or centuries, it is criminal for the people in charge of this country to leave the energy decisions in the hands of boobs like Al Gore and Barrack Obama.  These individuals couldn’t perform an energy budget for their own houses never mind the planet.  And as for that cretin in the White House now I wouldn’t trust him to be able to find his own head with both hands.

It’s an undeniable fact that almost every college in America is completely controlled by Leftists.  They not only control the Humanities and Social Science departments but even the hard sciences and engineering are captured.  This is a terrible situation for any number of reasons but it’s also disastrous for the limits it puts on the technological progress that can be made to escape from the group think going on over energy policy.

If all of the engineering students are being shunted into windmill and solar panel design then we’re going to be stuck when the current generation of nuclear and petroleum engineers retire.  Now granted, it’s not like the knowledge will die with these men.  And there are other countries like France and even India where progress is being made in nuclear plant design.  But since the first nuclear pile in the world was built in this country it’s an affront to our history to think that we’ll reach such a sad state that we’ll have to hire foreigners to man our nuclear industry.

I suppose things will have to get a lot worse before they’ll get better.  Maybe it’ll take a major grid meltdown where thousands of people die of frostbite to wake up the woke from their love affair with Gaia.  But whatever it takes I’m pretty sure it will happen eventually.  And afterward the important thing is that the non-leftists must speak convincingly and carefully to the public at large and tell them in no uncertain terms that the future will include nuclear energy in an ever-expanding role.  It doesn’t have to be a sudden switch.  The global warming alarmists have exaggerated the impact of fossil fuels.  But the reality is that once an audit is made of petroleum resources it’s very likely that we will need a new energy source for our great grandchildren.  Waiting until the need is critical is foolish.  There will be associated technologies that will take decades or even centuries to mature to the point where we currently are with oil and gas.

After all, we will probably want to begin transitioning from gasoline to hydrogen as a vehicle fuel.  Building out that infrastructure, both for generation and distribution will require a lot of time and money.  And the whole life cycle of uranium and the other radio-isotopes have to be planned very carefully to optimize safety and cost and minimize waste.

Back in the 1970s there was the Three Mile Island accident in the United States.  The hippies of the Baby Boomer generation were able to destroy the nuclear power industry thanks to the cowardice of the politicians of the time.  And the Chernobyl disaster in the 1980s further sealed its fate.  But the energy density of fission reactors I’m sure will eventually beckon to our descendants and that is where the energy future lies.

As I said, in my more hopeful moments these are the things I see as priorities for our future.  This stands in stark contrast with the idiocy of the Greta Thunbergs of the world.  And it’s probably true that a painful failure of their world view will be a necessary part of moving on to a rational energy policy.  Maybe the way it happens is a Red State takes it upon itself to pioneer a nuclear industry and leave the rest of the country behind.  There’s my guess.

I now return you to your program of doom and gloom already in progress.

How Could I Not Read an Article Called, “Germany’s Energy Fiasco?”

The author is a German professor named Hans-Werner Sinn.  His bio says he is a German economist who served as President of the Ifo Institute for Economic Research from 1999 to 2016. He currently serves on the German Economy Ministry’s advisory council.  He is Professor Emeritus of Economics and Public Finance at the University of Munich.

What’s refreshing is he writes using facts when he discusses the realities of energy production.  Germany has almost completed its program of shutting down both its coal powered and nuclear-powered electrical generation facilities.  But since wind and solar account for 6.7% of the total energy requirements for the country it uses gas to heat most of its homes and businesses.

And even though 29% of electrical generation comes from wind and solar, whenever these resources fail (which is often) the full load of the electrical grid is powered by gas powered plants.  Therefore, Germany has built a large number of gas-powered plants to supposedly allow the transition to 100% renewables.  So currently, Germany is hopelessly dependent on Russian gas for heat and power.  And even if the whole German land mass was covered in solar cells and the sky was filled with wind turbines they would still need a large amount of gas to heat their homes and run their industry.

Germany’s posturing about boycotting Russian gas is just that.  Posturing.  If Russia were to cut off gas from Germany the country would grind to a halt in less than a week.  And several other European nations are in a similar situation.  This makes Biden’s threats especially hollow.

Reading Sinn’s essay, I am struck that the Greens in Germany have slit their own throats.  Germany had 17 nuclear power plants and an abundance of coal in the ground.  They threw these things away to pay the Russians for gas that produces more of the “dreaded” green house gases than they used to produce.

Good.  Let them stew on their current situation and possibly discover wisdom.

Personally, I hope the Russians do shut off gas to the West for a few weeks.  I think it’s valuable for people to get what they say they want.  It has a clarifying effect.  Sometimes it’s even educational, depending on the intellect of the recipient.

What Will Real Energy Innovation Look Like?

Back when Barry Soweto pretended to be an American president, he spent his terms in office trying to convince us that solar and wind powered electric generation installations were the future of the American energy strategy.  Because he was just an actor playing a part, he can be partially excused for espousing a policy that is pathetically absurd.

If you covered the planet with wind turbines, land and sea, besides killing off the bird population of the planet you would not solve the energy problems of the human population.  Wind by itself is a fluctuating power source.  As are photo-voltaic solar panels.  On their own they will not provide the kind of consistent supply of electric power that we expect from our electrical utilities.  That is why California, the land of fruits and nuts, that despises fossil fuels, has recently installed many gas turbine generators to augment the unreliable and inadequate “renewable” wind and sun-based generation.

None of this is to say that wind and sun-based power is valueless.  In places where there is substantial wind and plentiful sunny days there is power to be harvested.  But it should be used in an intelligent manner.  Storing that energy in a recoverable form would allow it to be accumulated into a valuable commodity.  For instance, if it was the power source for an electrolytic process for separating water into hydrogen and oxygen then that hydrogen could be stored and used later as a vehicle fuel, chemical raw material or for combustion to fuel electrical generation.

Or sun and wind generated power could be used as a source of power for water desalination plants.  The output of the plant would be controlled so that at night when only wind power was available a lower out put would be maintained and likewise in the day when clouds limited the amount of solar energy available.

But with these environmental energy sources careful attention should be made to the cost of maintaining the generation infrastructure.  I have been told that the replacement cost of the solar panels had been ignored in the Obama era installation of these panels willy-nilly across the roofs of unsuspecting Americans.  Just because the government decides to “give” you something for free doesn’t mean that the cost of these items make them sensible investments.  And the cost of maintaining wind turbines also must be reckoned in the calculation of their desirability as an energy choice.

And there are other energy sources that must be explored.  Geothermal energy has only seen limited exploitation because of the scarcity of obvious geothermal hot spots.  But if resources are made available to study how a more general approach could be taken there might be great gain to be made on this front.

But the most obvious source of energy has been available to us for almost a hundred years.  Nuclear fission thermal power stations provide enormously dense energy supplies in almost limitless capacity.  The fact that there are safety and waste management challenges in such a complex and new technology is hardly surprising.  The fact that people around the world have allowed themselves to be panicked into abandoning this technology says more about the low morale of the current human population than it does about the difficulty of harnessing this amazing natural resource.  After all radioactivity is the source of the sun’s power and in fact the nuclear fusion that powers the sun is a much more technically challenging process for humans to harvest than the heat coming off of a fission pile.  To think that radioactive energy is any more mysterious than electrical or chemical energy is to be a primitive undeserving to utilize modern technology, one who should be relegated to living in a cave and warming himself by wearing furs and daubing himself with mastodon lard, too stupid to harness the frightening technology of fire.

The good news is that more confident humans at some time in the near future will return to nuclear power.  If the West fails to be the ones to do it then they will see themselves eclipsed and will deservedly sink into the lower echelons of third world nationhood.  Hopefully before that happens the modern humans among us will rally the people and admonish them to man up.

Declassified Footage of the 1961 Soviet 50 Megaton Hydrogen Bomb (Tsar Bomba)

If you’re interested in what the most powerful nuclear weapon ever detonated was like this 40 minute documentary will more than satisfy curiosity.  I was reading an article that stated after this detonation Edward Teller, the father of the hydrogen bomb told President Kennedy’s advisors that he was interested in producing a 10,000 megaton hydrogen bomb.  Kennedy declined. Even my bloodthirstiness might not be up to that challenge.

I will admit they knew how to do things in a big way back then.

The Country Leading the World Into a Nuclear Power Future – Finland?

Apparently the Finns have taken a decisive step toward making nuclear power the basis for their electric energy generating capability right through the next century.  The Finns have done the work to not only move into the next generation of nuclear power plant design but they are currently building the first modern large scale long term (permanent) repository for spent fuel rods.

If only Americans were as realistic and logical, especially all those global warming kooks who want to get away from fossil fuels but are too stupid to realize we already have the technology that will replace fossil fuels in the future.



Trump vs the Martian

(Scene 1 – White House West Wing)

Mike Pence (MP):  Mr. President, I got your message.

Donald Trump (DT):  Hello Mike.  Yeah, I need some help.

MP:  Yes, what can I do?

DT:  Until our NSF man is appointed I need to get someone to get the eggheads working on something for me.

MP:  Sure I’ll get someone on the phone right away and have them line up the subject matter experts you need.  What is the subject?

DT:  Nukes.

MP:  Mr. President, isn’t it a little early in the term to start rattling sabres?

DT:  No not bombs, power plants.

MP:  But why Mr. President?  With fracking and the lower prices it isn’t economical to build nuclear power plants.

DT:  Think big Mike.  Sure, oil’s cheap now but it isn’t infinite.  We’ve got to look for a fuel that will still be around in a thousand years and solve the problems before we’re already using it.

MP:  Alright, that’s true.  But right now the environmentalists are up in arms about the climate change thing and are ready to start a war with you.

DT:  Exactly.  And that’s how I’m gonna sell it to them.  I’ll make them put their money where their mouths are.

MP:  How?

DT:  I’ll simply say if they believe that global warming is real then they must support an alternative to fossil fuels.  It’s just been shown how useless wind and solar are for practical power generation.  I’ll tell them if they want to save the planet, they’ll have to sign on to this initiative.  They’ll be too scared to admit the whole thing was a hoax so they’ll be backed into a corner.  And once they agree it’ll utterly piss off the Gaia crowd who hate nukes worse than they hate me.  It’s a real win win.

MP:  Sounds like an interesting idea.  Where do you intend to locate this new project?

DT:  Detroit.

MP:  No, Mr. President!  The optics would be terrible!

DT:  Wrong again.  This program would generate jobs all the way from PhD’s down to janitors.  Putting Americans to work is the best kind of optics there is.  And Detroit needs jobs like nowhere else.

MP:  Maybe you’re right about this.  But why are you suddenly interested in nuclear power?

DT:  Because I’m from Queens.

MP:  I don’t understand.

DT:  Have you ever seen the site of the 1963 World’s Fair?

MP:  Well yes.  The Unisphere and the flying saucer towers that they showed in Men in Black.

DT:  Yeah.  Well I was a teenager when my parents brought me to it.  And I saw a vision of the future that included unlimited power, space travel, a cure for cancer and flying cars.  Well I’m seventy years old and the only space age thing I see is the cell phone in my pocket.

That doesn’t cut it.

My grandkids are going to live in a world without limits.  I’m tired of losers whining about why we can’t do the things we know we can do.  And I think it’s about time we start doing them.  I’m also going to restart the space program.  But we’re gonna need a better propulsion system to get to Mars.  I saw Matt Damon raising potatoes in his own poop because it took two years to get to Mars.  With nukes we could get there in two weeks.  That’s what we’re gonna do.

MP:  I’ll get them on the phone.

DT:  Oh, and see if anyone has a background in underwater construction.  I always wanted to build a hotel in the Gulf of Mexico.  Good winter vacation spot.