TED Conversations


This conversation is closed.

How can America wean itself from fossil fuels when fossil fuels are so cheap?

America is supposedly the leader of the free world. What was the primary message during the presidential campaign? Energy independence, not the environment. We will continue to sacrifice our legacy, our natural resources that might better be left to subsequent generations rather than accept higher energy costs now that renewables, until now, can't supply economically (at least not without a carbon tax).

As long as our politicians can make campaign promises based on the cost of a gallon of gas, don't expect any negative news about the environment to make headlines.

While President Obama extols the virtue of clean natural gas, I live in rural Schoharie County which is ripe for fracking for natural gas. Never mind that it is a bucolic, pastoral part of nature. It has vast reservers of natural gas so, following President Obama's desire, it will soon be an industrial park and all the tourists who used to come here for our natural beauty will go elsewhere.

When you look at the cost of natural gas in America, it is about the fifth the cost of natural gas in Europe. Guess what? America is going to become the World's leader in natural gas exports. The "good" news is that natural gas has only half the carbon foot print of coal (we have billions of tons of coal to export to Asia---and there has been a massive ad blitz promoting "clean" coal).

Unless there is someone like a Randall Mills who can make low-energy nuclear reactions economic, fossil fuels are our albatross.


Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • Nov 20 2012: There isn't cheap oil, it is paid for with massive subsidies to oil companies, which then don't pay any royalties on the oil they pump out of the ground. Between the two of those, they are sucking us dry. That doesn't even include the costs of the rebuilding of infrastructure that they buy pipe from their own subsidiaries at huge markups.

    The answer to the question, is to go back to steam.

    Rossi and Defkalion are both doing LENR work, but don't know what they are doing.
    Brillouin Energy does.

    They are using a nickle tech too, but they understand how it works. They filed patents , that were then dissallowed by the US Patent Office, as they felt they related to the old Utah University cold fusion fiasco.

    The tech is simple, and no more dangerous than your current water heater, but it runs on a wall warts worth of energy, and the only trick required , is to figure out a low pressure generator, or to commercialize the benzene strip work put together by U of Az folks. They have found that a single, straightend chain of benzene, actually creates a true thermoelectric conversion, albeit at a small voltage. Benzene is a small molecule however, and they are expecting it to be a paint on solution. This will be able to convert ALL waste heat directly to DC. Vehicles engines, electronic waste heat, rooftop , whatever.


    The use of household Brillouin boilers will free up all existing generation facilities to keep powering industry, while we convert the rest of society over.

    Vehicles can be either steam, or electric, with these units. And when parked, they can become part of the grid storage system.
    Every energy expert hates the idea of using vehicles as part of the grid storage, as they point out that the conversion from DC to AC, thru existing inverters, is not just uneconomical, it generates even more waste heat.

    The solution here is to create a new grid, one engineered on DC, and constructed with graphene conductors.
    • Nov 20 2012: I've been following the cold fusion research for decades. Rossi is a kind of shady character and skeptics argue that none of his claims of excess energy have been done under rigorous, independent studies. He promises much but delivers less. I'll check out Brillouin a player that I'm not familiar with.

      For over a decade the patent office has screwed over cold fusion scientists. The hot fusion crowd got one of their own in the patent office who disallowed patents for over a decade because it was allegedly physically impossible; meanwhile scientists were getting patents in France, Italy, South Korea, Japan, etc.

      Randall Mills is another case. His research has been ongoing for about 20 years and his claim of creating "hydrinos" a type of hydrogen below the ground state has received much attention. What is somewhat suspicious is that he quotes scientists that worked at prestigious universities to bolster his claims only to find out that they left had those universities decades earlier. He also claims to have lined up four utilities who allegedly are going to install 8000mW of capacity, but I have seen no follow up to these claims which appear on his website.

      Low-energy nuclear reactions have been demonstrated countless times but the pathway to commercialization seems a long way off. Most of the results are in the milliwatt to watt range i.e. not even adequate to run a household much less anything more.

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.