Thursday, April 21, 2011

Stark, Simple Reality of Energy Density

MaterialEnergy Density (MJ/kg)100W light bulb time (1kg)
Wood101.2 days
Ethanol26.83.1 days
Coal32.53.8 days
Crude oil41.94.8 days
Diesel45.85.3 days
Natural Uranium5.7x105182 years
Reactor Grade Uranium3.7x1061171 years
__Source of table
It should be remembered, that the specific energy release from fission is many orders of magnitude larger than from chemical, mechanical or photoelectric processes (for example: O2 + C = CO2 yields 4.1 electron volts (ev) of energy, fission of a Uranium nucleus yields ~200 million electron volts), and thus it is not surprising that the resources besides Uranium, and some day Thorium, that a nuclear power plant requires (land, water, machinery etc), which do have substitution-value, are modest compared to other electrical energy sources. _Michael Natelson, Nuclear Engineer
Nuclear reactions may release from 10^6 to 10^8 more energy than chemical reactions.

Even LENRs (low energy nuclear reactions) such as claimed for the Rossi / Focardi E-Cat reactor could have much higher energy density than simple combustion reactions. That is why such a few grams of nickel may be able to release as much energy as many tonnes of coal.
This type of reaction, also called LENR_Low Energy Nuclear Reactions, belongs to the family of low energy nuclear reaction: it differs from the most famous hot reaction to extremely low values ​​of temperature and pressure at which it operates, with the support of a catalyst - such as palladium. In the case of 'E-Cat, were a few grams of hydrogen and nickel to fuse their nuclei, releasing energy (12 kW to 6 kW input) and a piece of copper as residue - in particular, is a proton' hydrogen into the core of nickel, copper turning. The scientific community, meanwhile, is now divided in accepting the Bologna experience as a real reaction to cold or some other phenomenon of nature is still unclear. _Italia (translated)
Clearly those who are trying to develop small modular nuclear reactors, small fusion such as Bussard or Focus Fusion, and LENRs such as the E-Cat, are all focused upon a much higher level of energy and power production than those who are necessarily stuck on coal, gas, and petroleum. Clearly bioenergy has a significant distance to go to compete with fossil fuels, but it is indefinitely sustainable, and provides necessary mobile liquid chemical energy for many applications. As for wind and solar, they have almost nothing going for them -- except for small, niche applications such as off-grid isolated locations.

Much better to face the stark and simple reality of energy and power density, and to work with that reality toward an abundant energy future. Anything less than that is a failure to comprehend the obvious.

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