Fusion Power—Just 30 Years Away! (Again)
Charles Ebinger: Fusion is a frustrating technology because we all know that it'll work. The problem with fusion is we haven't been able to sustain a fusion reaction long enough to generate electricity. We've known this for 30 to 50 years. The joke in the fusion energy community is that fusion is always 30 years away and that remains the case today barring any foreseeable new developments. But there is research going on and one of these days I would hope that somebody has a breakthrough and that would truly be a game-changer because then we really would very likely be able to have energy so cheap that we wouldn't worry about metering it. But I don't think we can count on that happening.
So then you look at other alternatives like advanced biofuels. There clearly is great interest in algae as a transportation fuel to back out petroleum, as well as some other biofuels. Biofuels are not entirely free in the sense that you certainly want to move towards developing biofuels hopefully that don't compete with food stuffs. And that's one of the big problems with ethanol in our country and corn. But there are biofuels like algae and others that don't compete with foodstuffs.
I've actually been a developer. I'm vice chairman of a company based in Dubai that does biomass fuels in Europe mainly because we get such generous green tax credits, it's extremely attractive. But there are different crops that can be used. We are developing a proprietary technology that it's essentially like a bamboo-type crop. We call it egrass, but it's essentially similar to a bamboo, virtually grows anywhere in the world that's a temperate climate. And like bamboo, grows very prolifically and very cheaply. One of the problems in biofuels, though, is it's very expensive to transport bio fuels to their end use. So when you develop a biofuels plant, you want as much as possible to have your biofuels plant as close to whatever end use it's going to be used for to cut down on what are otherwise very expensive transportation costs.
Recorded on April 28th, 2010
Interviewed by Austin Allen
Will futuristic energy solutions such as fusion and biofuels ever live up to the hype surrounding them?
Giving our solar system a "slap in the face."
- A stream of galactic debris is hurtling at us, pulling dark matter along with it
- It's traveling so quickly it's been described as a hurricane of dark matter
- Scientists are excited to set their particle detectors at the onslffaught
The climate change we're witnessing is more dramatic than we might think.
A lazy buzz phrase – 'Is this the new normal?' – has been doing the rounds as extreme climate events have been piling up over the past year. To which the riposte should be: it's worse than that – we're on the road to even more frequent, more extreme events than we saw this year.
Once again, our circadian rhythm points the way.
- Seven individuals were locked inside a windowless, internetless room for 37 days.
- While at rest, they burned 130 more calories at 5 p.m. than at 5 a.m.
- Morning time again shown not to be the best time to eat.
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