Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Hot Fusion - Will It Ever Be Practical?

WARNING: This entry is unabashedly scientific. If you are a science-phobe, stop reading now.

OK you're still reading so the question I want to think about is "Will Hot Fusion Ever Be a Practical Power Source?"

Let's start with, it is, of course, impossible to predict the future with perfection, but the past is the best predictor of the future. When I was a kid 40 years ago, the experts said they'd have Hot Fusion as a Power Source in 20 years. So 20 years later (20 years ago), it still wasn't ready, but the experts said it would be working in 20 years. Today it still isn't ready. Tonight I saw an article over at this place. In this article an expert says that at current funding rates it will take about another... no, not 20 years... 35 years.

Ok, so after 40 years, with consistent projections of "20 more years", we now hear "35 more years". My projection based on this is that Hot Fusion as a Practical Power Source will happen... when it happens. I don't mean that to sound like a cop out, so let me clarify. It will happen at a time that is unpredictable. I believe what we are seeing is a reflection of the truth that the whole process is simply beyond our current technology. Not that won't happen someday, but it will happen after a breakthrough that is unforeseeable.

So if I believe that (and I do), what would I do? Would I keep funding Hot Fusion? Yes. It is the ultimate solution to power. Would I cut the funding a bit and use that to fund other possible energy sources? You bet. I think that solar, and wind are the better short term answers. They are both free and non-polluting. Biofuels are a red-herring. We can barely grow enough food for all the people, no way we can grow so much more that we can feed the power needs as well.

Well that's my two cents.

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