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Development & Aid

124

Posts

  • TheOrangeTheOrange Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    Well, energy is one constraint, if energy becomes a non issue, a lot of technological advances that were previously constrained by energy won't be anymore. For exampleCooling/Heating massive glass houses and server farms is expensive now, but not when energy becomes cheap.

    TheOrange on
  • Pi-r8Pi-r8 Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    TheOrange wrote: »
    Well, energy is one constraint, if energy becomes a non issue, a lot of technological advances that were previously constrained by energy won't be anymore. For exampleCooling/Heating massive glass houses and server farms is expensive now, but not when energy becomes cheap.

    right... but how does that help the developing world? there's not a lot of massive glass houses or server farms there. The main argument seems to be "well it will help technological development so much that after that, the sky is the limit!" that's nice and all but it's ridiculously vague.

    Pi-r8 on
  • TheOrangeTheOrange Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    Well, we need to define what humans actully need. The order I see it is:

    1-Clean sweet water (is easier to make and transport with cheap energy)
    2-Food (same argument about making and transporting)
    3-Medical care (Yeah, this one needs a bit more time and imagination after cheap energy is achived)
    4-Basic education (E-Learning? Server Farms? Also needs more time and imagination after cheap energy)

    I guess it won't end all problems, but energy will make the life of the bottom bilion some what better.

    TheOrange on
  • SpindizzySpindizzy Registered User
    edited April 2010
    A large proportion of people in the developing world have mobile phones. In the same countries, there are regular power shortages and inconsistancy in the delivery of utilities. I also agree that delivery of energy is key to developing a country as is food. Corruption and mismanagement of infrastructures is the biggest barrier to getting food and energy to developing countries.

    The list provided by The Orange is probably right but there are other barriers to success than just giving poor countries western levels of industry and infrastructure. Look at Zimbabwe, before the early 90's it was the envy of Africa due to the strength of its economy, education ad health systems now its a disgusting mess.

    (as an aside - fuck you Mugabi)

    Spindizzy on
  • Ethan SmithEthan Smith Origin name: Beart4to Arlington, VARegistered User regular
    edited April 2010
    I was thinking about this earlier today.

    Why doesn't the UN just create an organization that looks at electrical goods that the developing world needs (specialized machinery, electronics), and build factories in the really poor nations and do the manufacturing of said machinery there? Later on you can move the more capital-intensive parts in said really poor nation too.

    Yeah, it'd probably require some money, but it'd be cheaper than just handing out money, and you're both giving jobs to people and giving goods to other people.

    Ethan Smith on
    I would be ashamed to admit that I had risen from the ranks. When I rise it will be with the ranks, and not from the ranks..
  • CycloneRangerCycloneRanger Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    Solar fusion is moderated by one thing: gravity. Stars undergo fusion largely based just off of the immense weight of their own mass crushing down on the core. This makes the reaction self moderating. Mass presses down, the core gets denser, fusion increases, pressure pushes back the weight crushing down, density decreases, fusion decreases. Self moderating.

    Achieving fusion in controlled conditions without the presence of the mass is, as most should be aware, quite daunting. It's daunting because simulating the conditions present in the sun requires an enormous amount of input energy to simulate the huge amount of mass which you do not have on hand.

    Assuming a sustained fusion reaction is achieved (which to date has not occured), the largest percentage of the energy produced would go to maintaining the conditions necessary to perpetuate fusion. More would be lost in the process of converting thermal power to electrical power. Still more would be consumed converting water into hydrogen, since free hydrogen does not exist in exploitable quantities on Earth, although it can be created with an input of energy.

    The assertion of the proponents of fusion is that aquatic hydrogen is a source of energy, because the energy achieved from fusing it is greater then the energy needed to unbind it from oxygen. This is true. I assert that the energy produce is not enough to balance out the energy consumed to sustain the reaction, the energy to produce the hydrogen, and the energy lost in conversion, thus making hydrogen a FUEL, capable of storing energy but not actually a net producer of new energy.
    This is idiotic. For hydrogen to a "fuel" in the sense that it does not produce energy but only stores it (which is not what that word means, but anyway...) the difference between total energy output after fusion and total energy input required to create fusion would have to be less than the amount of energy required to produce (via electrolysis, presumably) the hydrogen in the first place. That's absurd. There's such a tiny, tiny margin for "fusion produces enough energy to be useful when we've already got the hydrogen, but not enough to also pay for the electrolysis" that it's totally unreasonable to expect that to happen.

    And even if you throw in the costs of separating deuterium and tritium from the ordinary water first (it's much easier to fuse these isotopes and early reactors will likely use them), the conclusion isn't much different.

    Also, what you "assert" means absolutely nothing in this case. All signs point to fusion eventually working and producing useful power; there is no fundamental reason why it cannot be done. ITER is expected to produce a burning plasma; the JET has already produced a plasma with an energy gain factor (fusion power produced over heating power applied) of 0.7. The difficulties at the moment are with containment, which is a practical concern and not a theoretical one (since it is ultimately possible to spend close to zero net energy on confinement as long as no work is being done; this is why the sun doesn't implode). Even magnetic confinement can be done with very little loss as long as superconductivity can be maintained in the magnets (which costs energy in the form of refrigeration at the moment, but not a fixed amount; it depends on the efficiency of the refrigeration and insulation systems). Besides, there are options for fusion power that don't require magnetic confinement; the NIF fired its first beam last year.
    Fusion is an interesting topic and a potential power source, but not an energy source.
    Again, this is utter nonsense. The idea that something something with a power output as great as nuclear fusion should be limited in efficiency to just the right amount so that it is a net producer when the cost of hydrogen feedstock is ignored but a net consumer when it is not ignored is ridiculous, especially when we're talking about practical limits (i.e. engineering problems) and not theoretical ones (which place fusion so far in the net-energy-gain camp that it's not even funny).
    Ultimately solar power and solar sustained processes (wind, etc) are the best energy sources because they have the greatest conversion efficiency and the greatest energy expended/energy gained ratio. A microwave power reflector in space would be about ideal to be honest.
    You have no idea what you're talking about. A "microwave power reflector"? I think you mean a microwave transmitter/rectenna combination attached to an orbiting solar powerplant, and those are easily as far from practical as fusion power currently is. The cost of getting stuff into space needs to drop a lot before such a scheme will work (it's theoretically possible, though; it just has the huge stumbling block of being dependent on our spaceflight technology for feasibility). I'd bet on fusion before orbital solar at this point, and ground-based solar before either (with nuclear fission for baseline power).

    CycloneRanger on
  • ronyaronya Arrrrrf. the ivory tower's basementRegistered User regular
    edited April 2010
    Pi-r8 wrote: »
    Suppose we did come up with a form of cheap, renewable, environmentally friendly energy. fusion, solar, whatever. Would that really help the developing world? It seems like, if we make a list of all the problems facing a country in sub saharan africa, "energy costs" would not be a big problem.

    Water. Desalination is almost entirely determined by the cost of energy. Cheap energy is cheap water.

    And the provision of water is a real problem, of course.

    ronya on
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  • ronyaronya Arrrrrf. the ivory tower's basementRegistered User regular
    edited April 2010
    I was thinking about this earlier today.

    Why doesn't the UN just create an organization that looks at electrical goods that the developing world needs (specialized machinery, electronics), and build factories in the really poor nations and do the manufacturing of said machinery there? Later on you can move the more capital-intensive parts in said really poor nation too.

    Yeah, it'd probably require some money, but it'd be cheaper than just handing out money, and you're both giving jobs to people and giving goods to other people.

    A couple of reasons.... the production of many kinds of specialized machinery and electronics requires certain kinds of specialized labor that is easily available in the West but not in, say, sub-saharan Africa. You simply can't substitute a large amount of untrained labor in place of specialized training. Take, for example, electronics: a thousand unskilled high-school graduates won't outdo one triple-E graduate.

    So you'd have to import labor as well. This is both more expensive (otherwise it would already be done there) and doesn't help employment.

    For this reason, when countries industrialize they typically engage first in light industry - factories which can employ lots and lots of unskilled labor, which don't require a lot of capital investment, which have a minimal impact on the environment so you can site them right next to housing zones and don't have to rely on highways and a car-owning pool of employees. These are things like textiles (jeans, other clothing), electronics assembly (ship in components from Israel or Taiwan and put them together), consumer goods, furniture, etc.

    But the flip side is that the sort of factories which are suited for production in such places, don't produce the things that such places want to buy. There's no market for a vast supply of plastic toys in Indonesia, what they want to do is make them there and ship them elsewhere. In return we can pay them in specialized machinery made in the US of A (which is why the US's leading export is precisely such 'capital goods').

    As you might guess, this is a process that already goes on. China wants heavy machinery, but it can't do so at a reasonable cost, so it makes lots and lots of light industries and then uses those to buy heavy machinery from the US. Likewise for India, which exports services to the West instead of textiles (hence the infamous Indian call center and Indian outsourcing).

    By and large the reasons this isn't more common are political: geopolitical conditions in many parts of Africa simply aren't stable or non-corrupt enough to support light industries, never mind heavy industries and all the infrastructure that entails. Some parts are - many jeans are made in Africa, for instance. But not enough.

    Furthermore, doing any of this is politically unpopular even in the first world. The right-wing sees brown people, the left-wing sees sweatshops. Both sides have some nostalgia for the era when it was West Europe that was amassing light industries in order to buy heavy machinery from post-WW2 United States; of course that dynamic eventually moved on (as it did for Japan and then Korea/Taiwan/etc. in their turn) but people seem to fancy the prospect of it returning somehow.

    ronya on
    aRkpc.gif
  • surrealitychecksurrealitycheck the search for the means to put an end to things an end to speech is what enables the discourse to continue ~ * ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°) excelsior * ~Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    I'm actually quite optimistic about fusion in the long run, although actually solar power will get a lot better. ATM the big problem with solar panels is that the efficient ones are expensive as hell - but like all technology they'll get vastly cheaper. Plus they're a lot more predictable than the somewhat random wind and tidal power. All evidence is that wind power is actually total balls, and not worth it in any sense :/

    surrealitycheck on
    obF2Wuw.png
  • SpindizzySpindizzy Registered User
    edited April 2010
    The UK government is hoping that wind power works - we have the largest offshore wind farms in the world.

    Isn't the problem with fusion that like nuclear it will require large amounts of investment and time to build. This is before the technology for it has even been discovered. In the short term, water and wind might be reasonable stop gaps to promote in the developing world.

    Spindizzy on
  • Modern ManModern Man Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    Pi-r8 wrote: »
    Suppose we did come up with a form of cheap, renewable, environmentally friendly energy. fusion, solar, whatever. Would that really help the developing world? It seems like, if we make a list of all the problems facing a country in sub saharan africa, "energy costs" would not be a big problem. It might even end up hurting that country, since super cheap energy could mean that the stuff which is currently done by cheap labor could be more cheaply done by machinery.
    Think about all the stuff you need to build and maintain a modern infrastructure and economy. All of that takes energy. Lack of access to reliable, cheap, clean energy is certain a problem in the developing/undeveloped world. Just as an example, American farming is incredibly efficient in part because of the widespread use of farm machinery, which isn't an option for farmers in third-world countries.

    Of course, even if you could drop a free fusion reactor in a third-world city, you'd still have infrastructure issues when it came to actually delivering the energy. But, that's a separate problem.

    Modern Man on
    Aetian Jupiter - 41 Gunslinger - The Old Republic
    Rigorous Scholarship

  • SaammielSaammiel Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    Not really on the current topic, but I did look up the section on Botswana in my textbook. According to it they started out in 1965 with 12 kilometers of paved road in the entire country and 22 university graduates. By 2002 they had increased their GDP 9 fold. Mining accounts for 40% of their GDP btw.

    It looks like a lot of their success was just managing that windfall well. The book claims that what sets Botswana apart from other countries with rich resources in Africa are the strength of its institutions and its tendancy to spend money on infrastructure rather than wasting it.

    Saammiel on
  • surrealitychecksurrealitycheck the search for the means to put an end to things an end to speech is what enables the discourse to continue ~ * ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°) excelsior * ~Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    The UK government is hoping that wind power works - we have the largest offshore wind farms in the world.

    The statistics for our wind farms are actually pretty dreadful. The sheer amount of land we'd need to cover with the things to provide a serious amount of energy is... fairly astonishing. They're also not producing anywhere near as much power as they should be, and they have a fairly harsh environmental impact on local wildlife due to low frequency waves. It's probably our biggest recent policy mistake, especially given how much money we're still plowing into it.

    surrealitycheck on
    obF2Wuw.png
  • Modern ManModern Man Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    Saammiel wrote: »
    Not really on the current topic, but I did look up the section on Botswana in my textbook. According to it they started out in 1965 with 12 kilometers of paved road in the entire country and 22 university graduates. By 2002 they had increased their GDP 9 fold. Mining accounts for 40% of their GDP btw.

    It looks like a lot of their success was just managing that windfall well. The book claims that what sets Botswana apart from other countries with rich resources in Africa are the strength of its institutions and its tendancy to spend money on infrastructure rather than wasting it.
    Its living standard is comparable to Mexico or Turkey, from what I've read. There are certainly plenty of poor people in Botswana, but it's more along the lines of being poor in rural Mexico, rather than poor in, say, Congo.

    There's nothing particularly special about Botswana in terms of resources, when compared to other African nations. It's the corruption and shitty governments that are responsible for the failure of most African nations to develop. All it would take is a fairly middle-of-the-road government, like Botswana's, to lead to some good success when it comes to development.

    Modern Man on
    Aetian Jupiter - 41 Gunslinger - The Old Republic
    Rigorous Scholarship

  • SaammielSaammiel Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    Modern Man wrote: »
    Its living standard is comparable to Mexico or Turkey, from what I've read. There are certainly plenty of poor people in Botswana, but it's more along the lines of being poor in rural Mexico, rather than poor in, say, Congo.

    Yeah, I mean they aren't objectively wealthy, but they started out so very far behind. In 1960 their GDP per capita was $958 compared to $12,273 for the US. By 2003 that gap had shrunk to $8,232 to our $35,484.

    Saammiel on
  • ueanuean Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    I'm actually quite optimistic about fusion in the long run, although actually solar power will get a lot better. ATM the big problem with solar panels is that the efficient ones are expensive as hell - but like all technology they'll get vastly cheaper. Plus they're a lot more predictable than the somewhat random wind and tidal power. All evidence is that wind power is actually total balls, and not worth it in any sense :/

    Something we never even considered in all of that was that solar panels can be stolen, relocated and sold quite easily.

    We had to kiss $30,000 worth of panels goodbye earlier in the year :(

    uean on
    Guys? Hay guys?
    PSN - sumowot
  • surrealitychecksurrealitycheck the search for the means to put an end to things an end to speech is what enables the discourse to continue ~ * ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°) excelsior * ~Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    OUCH

    Yeah they are ridiculously expensive atm >.<

    There are also worries about the materials used to construct them which are nontrivial I believe.

    surrealitycheck on
    obF2Wuw.png
  • SpindizzySpindizzy Registered User
    edited April 2010
    But the important lesson from Botswana is the importance of good infrastructure for building the economy.
    Its not impossible to ask but expecting a country to become as prosperous as rich western countries in a few decades is unlikely. Especially considering major changes to europes economy and society took hundreds of years.

    Spindizzy on
  • DarkCrawlerDarkCrawler Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    Interesting discussion.

    I've never really thought of energy consumption as a problem for uplifting the poorest countries in the world - I assume that by the time they could possibly reach the level of the first world countries we have already revolutionarized solar energy, fusion, etc. I mean, energy advancements seem to move a lot faster then the developed world.

    I also think that flooding money has been proven not to work. I liked the ideas of microfinancing posted here, I think I'll start to participate in something like that.

    DarkCrawler on
  • SaammielSaammiel Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    Spindizzy wrote: »
    But the important lesson from Botswana is the importance of good infrastructure for building the economy.
    Its not impossible to ask but expecting a country to become as prosperous as rich western countries in a few decades is unlikely. Especially considering major changes to europes economy and society took hundreds of years.

    I think the more important thing to highlight is that institutions matter. Without strong institutions (as Ronyo pointed out, these don't need to belong to a democracy) everything else is sort of irrelevant. Not to say infrastructure doesn't matter, it does. But it probably won't get built without a set of institutions pushing for its design, construction and upkeep.

    Saammiel on
  • Modern ManModern Man Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    Saammiel wrote: »
    Spindizzy wrote: »
    But the important lesson from Botswana is the importance of good infrastructure for building the economy.
    Its not impossible to ask but expecting a country to become as prosperous as rich western countries in a few decades is unlikely. Especially considering major changes to europes economy and society took hundreds of years.

    I think the more important thing to highlight is that institutions matter. Without strong institutions (as Ronyo pointed out, these don't need to belong to a democracy) everything else is sort of irrelevant. Not to say infrastructure doesn't matter, it does. But it probably won't get built without a set of institutions pushing for its design, construction and upkeep.
    Compare Botswana to Equitorial Guinea. EG has a relatively small population (aboout 700K), sits on large oil reserves, has good deepwater ports and also has other resources. With even a Botswana-like government, the place should have developed incredibly quickly to a high standard of living. With a government closer to Singapore's, EG would probably be a first-world nation by now. But, decades of corrupt and brutal government have ensured that even though per capita GDP figures for the two countries are similar, EG is a lot further behind in development. The oil money goes right into the pockets of the President and his cronies, while most of the people eke out a living as subsistence farmers.

    Modern Man on
    Aetian Jupiter - 41 Gunslinger - The Old Republic
    Rigorous Scholarship

  • GothicLargoGothicLargo Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    Fusion is an interesting topic and a potential power source, but not an energy source.
    Again, this is utter nonsense. The idea that something something with a power output as great as nuclear fusion should be limited in efficiency to just the right amount so that it is a net producer when the cost of hydrogen feedstock is ignored but a net consumer when it is not ignored is ridiculous, especially when we're talking about practical limits (i.e. engineering problems) and not theoretical ones (which place fusion so far in the net-energy-gain camp that it's not even funny).

    It's not the feedstock alone. It's magnetic field + feedstock

    To make a sustained reaction you need a plasma containment vessel creating an incredibly powerful magnetic field to maintain the pressure. Maintaining that field, with the current limits on superconductive materials, uses more electrical energy then the the reaction is capable of generating after conversion of thermal output to electrical output. The feedstock energy cost just adds insult to injury.
    the JET has already produced a plasma with an energy gain factor ([strike]fusion[/strike] thermal power produced over [strike]heating[/strike] electrical power applied) of 0.7

    They're still negative. They're scoping their definition to make it sound good.

    In terms of Joules of energy, yes, they are getting more Joules out of the reaction then they are putting into sustaining the reaction. But they're measuring the reaction output thermal when the input is electrical. I've scratched out and replaced the words in your post.

    Converting thermal energy to electrical energy is inefficient. I'm being generous here in saying that you get maybe 50% of the energy thermal converted via turbine (realistically you get 40% but you can approach 50 theoretically). This is limited by the efficiency of the carnot cycle, WHICH WILL NOT CHANGE JUST BECAUSE IT IS INCONVENIENT.

    This inefficiency has the effect of doubling (or more) the actual thermal joules required output on the final self sustaining device in order to make it capable of producing net energy gained.

    If you've got a device that produces 1 joule of output thermal energy for .5 joules of electrical energy input, and try to power it by linking output to input via thermal-electrical conversion, you've just consumed the entire thermal output to produce the electrical input.

    The JET program glosses over this fact to make the project sound successful. They have successfully achieved their milestone. They have not successfully created a net energy producing reaction. They're in the same boat as everyone else: they need high temp superconductors to deliver on their promises, and at the moment those don't exist.

    GothicLargo on
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  • ueanuean Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    OUCH

    Yeah they are ridiculously expensive atm >.<

    There are also worries about the materials used to construct them which are nontrivial I believe.

    I might care more about the materials and possible problems if they were being regularly scrapped. They're so expensive that they will be used to the bitter end, and then likely turned into something useful right after that. I also care greatly about the environment, but when you see people scraping out an existence in a hut made of straw, you tend to say "screw the environment a bit if I can just help out."

    Anyway, we did the math. Replacing them was still cost effective... they pay themselves off in 5 years when you're in an area completely off the grid. The generator we have is pretty efficient and we still burn over $700 a month in diesel WITH the solar panels going full blast.

    Self sustainability sure costs a lot :)

    I'm very curious to see where this conversation goes and am looking forward to contributing. I'm in the middle of the bush as we speak :)

    uean on
    Guys? Hay guys?
    PSN - sumowot
  • adytumadytum Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    Uaen don't you live / work in East Africa somewhere? What organization are you with?

    adytum on
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  • RanadielRanadiel Registered User
    edited April 2010
    I think the biggest boon to other countries becoming more "developed" would be so that the population isn't so inclined to flee the area and propagate other countries en mass, which can cause severe problems in said country due to the sudden influx.

    I say "developed" in this manner because being developed has different meanings for each particular area. Some regions may not want to emulate a western style of living, but simply having better ways of delivering clean water, medical aid, better education and proper waste management could go a long way for them. It may be all the development they really want.

    Ranadiel on
  • ueanuean Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    adytum wrote: »
    Uaen don't you live / work in East Africa somewhere? What organization are you with?

    Yeah... I changed my location so my raving makes sense in threads like these.

    I'm with a place called Pacific Academy Outreach Society. It's basically a real tiny NGO that's run out of a private school in Canada, where the school partners with the school here in Uganda and sponsors it. I have the priviledge of running the Community programs like HIV/AIDS support groups, women's employment groups, microloans, post secondary education sponsorship, and (my baby) water repairs and water source expansion (where I get to boot around the countryside on a motorcycle and check out water sources, meet with folks in the communities, make minor repairs, and help organise big repairs or train small groups to raise funds for breakdowns when I'm eventually not here.)

    It's good work but I'm a bit burned out after 1.5+ years. I'm pretty good on the bike now though ;)

    uean on
    Guys? Hay guys?
    PSN - sumowot
  • PhyphorPhyphor Building Planet Busters Tasting FruitRegistered User regular
    edited April 2010
    Fusion is an interesting topic and a potential power source, but not an energy source.
    Again, this is utter nonsense. The idea that something something with a power output as great as nuclear fusion should be limited in efficiency to just the right amount so that it is a net producer when the cost of hydrogen feedstock is ignored but a net consumer when it is not ignored is ridiculous, especially when we're talking about practical limits (i.e. engineering problems) and not theoretical ones (which place fusion so far in the net-energy-gain camp that it's not even funny).

    It's not the feedstock alone. It's magnetic field + feedstock

    To make a sustained reaction you need a plasma containment vessel creating an incredibly powerful magnetic field to maintain the pressure. Maintaining that field, with the current limits on superconductive materials, uses more electrical energy then the the reaction is capable of generating after conversion of thermal output to electrical output. The feedstock energy cost just adds insult to injury.
    the JET has already produced a plasma with an energy gain factor ([strike]fusion[/strike] thermal power produced over [strike]heating[/strike] electrical power applied) of 0.7

    They're still negative. They're scoping their definition to make it sound good.

    In terms of Joules of energy, yes, they are getting more Joules out of the reaction then they are putting into sustaining the reaction. But they're measuring the reaction output thermal when the input is electrical. I've scratched out and replaced the words in your post.

    Converting thermal energy to electrical energy is inefficient. I'm being generous here in saying that you get maybe 50% of the energy thermal converted via turbine (realistically you get 40% but you can approach 50 theoretically). This is limited by the efficiency of the carnot cycle, WHICH WILL NOT CHANGE JUST BECAUSE IT IS INCONVENIENT.

    This inefficiency has the effect of doubling (or more) the actual thermal joules required output on the final self sustaining device in order to make it capable of producing net energy gained.

    If you've got a device that produces 1 joule of output thermal energy for .5 joules of electrical energy input, and try to power it by linking output to input via thermal-electrical conversion, you've just consumed the entire thermal output to produce the electrical input.

    The JET program glosses over this fact to make the project sound successful. They have successfully achieved their milestone. They have not successfully created a net energy producing reaction. They're in the same boat as everyone else: they need high temp superconductors to deliver on their promises, and at the moment those don't exist.

    Well, yes the conversion is inefficient, however JET is fairly old and there has been much progress since then.

    ITER is expected to have a sustained Q value of around 5 which is at the point where you produce no real electrical power externally but what electricity you do produce, even after losses, will generally sustain your systems. So while JET came close to thermodynamic breakeven ITER is expected to approach electrical breakeven.

    Of course, we're not going to find out how it goes for several years at best but dismissing fusion so quickly is rediculously shortsighted.

    Phyphor on
    Magic Box
    Academician Prokhor "Phyphor" Zakharov, Chief Scientist of China, Provost of the University of Planet - SE++ Megagame
  • GothicLargoGothicLargo Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    Phyphor wrote: »
    Of course, we're not going to find out how it goes for several years at best but dismissing fusion so quickly is rediculously shortsighted.

    As is dismissing implementation-ready wind technology on the promise that fusion technology will come of age eventually. Congress seems to see fusion research and wind/solar implementation as competing projects fighting over the same money, an assessment I disagree with.

    However, if the choice has to be made to fund a ready solution or fund a research experiment, I side with the ready solution because I know that fully funding wind implementation results in a tangible return.

    Ideally, you fund both.

    But the billions we've spent on the National Ignition Lab could have constructed hundreds of turbine towers.

    GothicLargo on
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  • PhyphorPhyphor Building Planet Busters Tasting FruitRegistered User regular
    edited April 2010
    Without funding no research can be done, you can't build prototypes or test anything. If we always choose the practical guaranteed-return project over experimentation we never improve. Unless of course you are contending that wind power is actually better than fusion and there's no need for the research.

    In my opinion fusion research is already substantially underfunded, especially factoring in the possible benefits.


    That said, I'm not sure where this whole wind farm vs fusion research thing came from since I never said anything about that, I just pointed out that your efficiency concerns aren't all that big of a deal anymore because we think we know how to produce enough power to overcome it.

    Phyphor on
    Magic Box
    Academician Prokhor "Phyphor" Zakharov, Chief Scientist of China, Provost of the University of Planet - SE++ Megagame
  • Emissary42Emissary42 Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    I seem to recall fission using thorium as the fuel source seems quite promising - mainly in that it's really safe, you can't use it to make weapons, and thorium is very common. I'm willing to bet that's going to be what pops up in the years before fusion really hits mainstream.

    Solar (specifically orbital/space solar) will probably be developed for military purposes though; setting up a microwave receiver for a base is fairly trivial compared to shipping an equivalent amount of fuel/moving portable nuclear plants around [on land].

    Emissary42 on
  • electricitylikesmeelectricitylikesme Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    Emissary42 that is actually a really good point about space solar which I hadn't considered. I would bet this point has probably been raised at DARPA or somewhere similar.

    The biggest counterpoint of course would probably be the size of the receiving array needed on the ground - 60km radius's are what I recall reading, although that might've been based on the idea that you didn't want to kill everything underneath the antenna.

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  • nescientistnescientist Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    Emissary42 that is actually a really good point about space solar which I hadn't considered. I would bet this point has probably been raised at DARPA or somewhere similar.

    The biggest counterpoint of course would probably be the size of the receiving array needed on the ground - 60km radius's are what I recall reading, although that might've been based on the idea that you didn't want to kill everything underneath the antenna.

    If the array itself is 60km then you probably need a 120km radius zone of exclusion to avoid accidentally microwaving people when atmospheric pressure shifts cause the beam to bend out of its normal path...

    EDIT: Not only should DARPA be thrilled with the possibilities for powering bases, from what Gundam00 teaches us we also know that it will make an awesome platform for eventual orbital death lasers.

    nescientist on
    Carl Sagan wrote:
    The sky calls to us. If we do not destroy ourselves, we will one day venture to the stars.
  • electricitylikesmeelectricitylikesme Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    Emissary42 that is actually a really good point about space solar which I hadn't considered. I would bet this point has probably been raised at DARPA or somewhere similar.

    The biggest counterpoint of course would probably be the size of the receiving array needed on the ground - 60km radius's are what I recall reading, although that might've been based on the idea that you didn't want to kill everything underneath the antenna.

    If the array itself is 60km then you probably need a 120km radius zone of exclusion to avoid accidentally microwaving people when atmospheric pressure shifts cause the beam to bend out of its normal path...

    EDIT: Not only should DARPA be thrilled with the possibilities for powering bases, from what Gundam00 teaches us we also know that it will make an awesome platform for eventual orbital death lasers.

    No no you miss the point. The idea of an enormous array is that the net microwave power at ground level is far below any possible damage to animals or plants underneath. The array itself is a grid of dipoles strung up on telegraph poles.

    That's the idea of a large array: it makes focussing practical, is space efficient, and the microwave radiation remains at safe levels.

    At the Earth's surface, a suggested microwave beam would have a maximum intensity at its center, of 23 mW/cm2 (less than 1/4 the solar irradiation constant), and an intensity of less than 1 mW/cm2 outside of the rectenna fenceline (the receiver's perimeter).[53] These compare with current United States Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) workplace exposure limits for microwaves, which are 10 mW/cm2,[66] - the limit itself being expressed in voluntary terms and ruled unenforceable for Federal OSHA enforcement purposes.[citation needed] A beam of this intensity is therefore at its center, of a similar magnitude to current safe workplace levels, even for long term or indefinite exposure. Outside the receiver, it is far less than the OSHA long-term levels[67] Over 95% of the beam energy will fall on the rectenna. The remaining microwave energy will be absorbed and dispersed well within standards currently imposed upon microwave emissions around the world.[68] It is important for system efficiency that as much of the microwave radiation as possible be focused on the rectenna. Outside of the rectenna, microwave intensities rapidly decrease, so nearby towns or other human activity should be completely unaffected.[69]

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  • Emissary42Emissary42 Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    Nah, receivers can be much smaller than that [10-15 km diameter] and remain safe*. You can even make them smaller still, if you're not picky about frying any living thing that wanders into it.

    *safe as in "I'm going to have a picknick under the rectanna array today!"

    Emissary42 on
  • nescientistnescientist Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    Derr, I get it now. The only reason to make a big array is to reduce the necessary intensity in any specific spot, such that a human-sized spot is not in fact receiving enough energy to cook a human-sized mass of meat. Once you settle on a safe value for this intensity, you can just scale the array upwards or downwards in size to meet the need for power wherever the array is located; so maybe you'd have a 15km array like Emissary describes replacing a small coal plant, but a 60km array to replace a large nuke plant.

    nescientist on
    Carl Sagan wrote:
    The sky calls to us. If we do not destroy ourselves, we will one day venture to the stars.
  • electricitylikesmeelectricitylikesme Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    Well the other reason is that, thanks to the properties of microwaves, your receiving array is not a solid material but rather a sparse antenna of wires. You could build the entire thing above farmland with just the thing dipole wires strung between power poles.

    electricitylikesme on
  • adytumadytum Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    I just found out that Collier has a new book out, and he calls it "his best ever." It's titled The Plundered Planet: Why We Must--and How We Can--Manage Nature for Global Prosperity
    How can poor countries escape the cycle of environmental degradation and poverty? Collier (The Bottom Billion) argues that technological innovation, environmental protection, and regulation are key to ensuring equitable development. Environmentalists and economists must work together so resources can be responsibly harnessed; if diamonds have sustained Sierra Leone's bloody feuds, Botswana's diamond industry has given it the world's fastest growing economy. Collier explores where and how corruption insinuates itself during the discovery and resource extraction processes, how taxation and royalty on extraction may redistribute wealth to society, how to reinvest this wealth for the future, and how to use renewable resources sustainably. Despite the narrow treatment of nature as commodity and some questionable contentions that organic farming is antiquated, and that factory farming and genetically modified crops are the only way to alleviate hunger—claims easily challenged by more seasoned agronomists—Collier's arguments are compassionate and convincing, and his straightforward explanations of economic principles are leavened with humor and impressively accessible.

    adytum on
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  • JebusUDJebusUD Adventure! Caaba Beankomy XobthroRegistered User regular
    edited April 2010
    My big problem with development aid is that there isn't enough of it. The kind of money that is put forth to fix places up is so far less than the kind of money to blow it up that it is laughable. Nation building is key to having people like you.

    That said, we have a huge problem with who is doing the nation building. The state dept was essentially left out in the nation building process in Iraq. We have a real problem with getting the right people to do the right jobs. First we have the dumbass policy of "leave a light footprint" invasion in Iraq, as if you could just walk in and hang out like friends, put forward by civilians as a military policy. Then, on the other hand, we have nation building policy and implementation being put forward and into practice by the military. It is like having a plumber do electrician work and the electrician do the plumbing. We need to let the people that know how military works handle military matters, and the people that know how nation building works handle those matters. Get the state dept doing its job again.

    One of the biggest challenges faced here is domestic. One of the first things that people say should be cut when it comes to budgetary items is foreign aid. Not only is this a tiny portion of the budget, but when you break it down into its component parts most of them are extremely important. The public needs to realize how vital foreign aid is and support it more fully.

    JebusUD on
    And I won, so you lose,
    Guess it always comes down to.
  • GothicLargoGothicLargo Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    Well the other reason is that, thanks to the properties of microwaves, your receiving array is not a solid material but rather a sparse antenna of wires. You could build the entire thing above farmland with just the thing dipole wires strung between power poles.

    In all honesty we could eliminate a large quantity of power plants simply by installing more capacitor banks.

    History Time. Ok, way back when, you have Edison and Tesla arguing about AC/DC and their next tour schedule. After some early tests a national standard of 60 hz AC emerges. Now, AC has some neat tricks over DC. Apparent electrical power consists of two components. Real power, and reactive power. An ideal resistive load consumes only real power, and an ideal inductive load consumes only reactive power. Alternating current makes it possible to manage these two components independently*. Real power can be transmitted over great distances but reactive power can only be transmitted in a copper conductor over a distance of about 2 kilometers.

    Back when electricity was a new idea, everything was resistive in nature. Heat elements and light bulbs. It wasn't until the 20's and then the 50's when refrigerators and air conditioners began requiring huge amounts of reactive power. The few first adopters of inductive motors (factories and elevators in large cities) used dc current on dedicated lines.

    When every city had a power plant, the restriction wasn't that severe. But since then the NIMBY factor had driven power plants off into the horizon where they cannot deliver significant amounts of reactive power. To compensate for this, utilities install capacitors at substations.

    A capacitor can create a local reactive loop within a branch of the grid, making an inductive load look like a real load to the generators, which may be hundreds or thousands of miles away. However, as was demonstrated in 2003 in Ohio, many utilities have not installed enough capacitors to keep up with reactive power demand growth, causing the grid to be unstable and necessitating the construction of more generation capacity to maintain voltage in the face of reactive power overconsumption (which causes a sag in voltage as apparent power is a product of real and reactive power).

    By installing sufficient capacitor banks in your own home, you can make your meter literally stop turning because the meter only measures the reactive component of the delivered power, not the real component (real power being trivially easy to deliver in huge quantities).

    Generally speaking the utilities see this as cheating since their meter-readers and lawyers have a unscientific assumption that if the lights are on in your house you should be paying them SOMETHING, but from a physics and electrical engineering standpoint, if your house load is purely resistive then all you are harnessing is the potential difference and thus saving them the trouble of having to support the reactive load needs of your stuff.



    *As is obvious, current in AC power flips. With a purely resistive load, the voltage and current are in phase. With a purely inductive load, the voltage and current are 90 degrees out of phase, indicating that ultimately the electrons aren't always flowing in the same direction that the potential difference says they should be.

    GothicLargo on
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  • override367override367 ALL minions Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    Emissary42 wrote: »
    I seem to recall fission using thorium as the fuel source seems quite promising - mainly in that it's really safe, you can't use it to make weapons, and thorium is very common. I'm willing to bet that's going to be what pops up in the years before fusion really hits mainstream.

    Solar (specifically orbital/space solar) will probably be developed for military purposes though; setting up a microwave receiver for a base is fairly trivial compared to shipping an equivalent amount of fuel/moving portable nuclear plants around [on land].

    Basically fission breeders or thorium reactors are probably where most people think fusion is as far as realistic. Fusion might maybe someday be a decade away from a test plant in 30 years. Breeders and thorium reactors that can be operated economically are probably 20 years off.

    override367 on
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