The distance.

From the analysis I have seen of the makeup of the sun, you sure would not want to be close to it apart from the heat. Its fair to say that the energy from the sun is nuclear but we are far enough away from it not to suffer the radiation from radioactive materials.

Fusion is one of the targets of nuclear energy if and when the technology can be developed as it has good potential in cleanliness terms as well as energy output. What will knobble it is poor standards of safety and inept government interference based on making safe development too expensive.

Oil will run out one day and its already a political problem in terms of control so viable energy production that is not dependent on the availability of fossil based fuels will become necessity driven in the future.


Posted on 2003-04-24 00:43:53 by hutch--
A conventional reactor is a fission reactor, it relies on energy released through slow fission (breaking apart) of atoms. To be able to do this you need unstable elements (usually very heavy such as uranium), the problem is that they are by necessity radioactive. The sun combines two hydrogen atoms into a single helium atom, this releases energy as well but the byproduct (helium) is light and stable so it is not necessarily radioactive. Fussion is the holy grail of atomic physics, whoever discovers a feasible process to use controlled fussion reactions to create energy is going to be a very rich man (or the company he works for is).

The CANDU reactor uses heavy water as a moderator, which passes neutrons easily and allows it to use unenriched uranium as fuel. This allows for much cheaper operation and doesn't give the countries buying one instant access to the enriched uranium needed for nuclear weapons as breeder reactors do. The other advantage to heavy water is that the moderator isn't mechanical like with the soviet and american reactors so they have much much less of a chance to melt down as reaction stops when the core begins to overheat and the heavy water boils away. American and Soviet reactors (like Chernobyl and Three mile island) require that moderator rods be insterted into the fuel pile, if the reactor overheats they can be fused to the core (making it impossible to remove them and stop the reaction) and a runaway occurs. As the heat builds to a point where hydroen and oxygen seperate there is a risk of explosion if the core is exposed, very dangerous stuff, luckily this is virtually impossible in the Canadian design, though it can happen if the D2O lines are faulty.
Posted on 2003-04-24 00:45:27 by donkey
Originally posted by Hutch
The distance.

Posted on 2003-04-24 00:56:36 by donkey
Donkey, you know your stuff ;)

As an add in.. there is Reactors in Pickering Ontario, that IMO are the safest. The CANDU's are mounted over a large empty tank. If any fault or loss of control were to happen, hit the button, and the entire undercarrage of the reactor opens, and drops out its D20, and stops the reaction. Worst case here is open radiation in the core, but without the moderator, the reator will cool down.

As well, no im not pumping the Leachade to your corner of the world ;)


Donkey put it best. Your rotten garbage comes far faster than the energy you spend and ultimately produce as radioactive waste. In reality, the enviromental damage from your garbage will be far greater than pools of spent rods and their casings. (Yes, the do pool them nicely packaged in their shinny little rods). The pools can be monitored and maintained. Garbage build up and becomes inaccessable. As well the liners in a Landfill are more likely to rupture than a pool is to crack open and leak. Landfills are a very narrow minded solution, and the rott makes them harder to manage over time. Conversely, if a technology develops to better dispose of the radioactive waste, they can easily be retrieved and managed then. You can't sell me on this argument, sorry...

About the sun:

The sun's nuclear fussion appears to be the perfect solution. But im skeptical. There is something that is being overlooked here. The First law of thermal dynamics.

Our sun is our source of energy for life on this planet. However, technically, its a transducer, not a source. Its converting energy recieved as mass is attracted under gravity into enought heat and pressure to create the observable fussion reaction. We dont have alot of mass to play with, so the energy needs to come from somewhere to create this reaction. Ie, you need enrgy to make a fussion reaction. For this reason, i do not think it will be practical. Everything has less than 100% efficiency in converting energy from one type to another (Second law of thermodynamics). This implies we would be wasting energy to create energy output from a fussion reaction (if we could). See my point here? This is why "cold fussion" is the impractical wish of many scientists!

The reason our current fission reactors *DO* produce energy for our use is because it has already been "bundled" or "zipped up" with energy from past suns fusing atoms together into elements (energy invested by past suns, the result of their own inefficiency to purely convert energy to the radiation we observe). Of course these suns die, and supernova, spreading elements outward. Eventually they collect under gravity into balls we like to call planets, and sometimes end up back in another sun. Point here is we started out on this planet with elements, already prepackaged with energy. Anything bigger than hydrogen itself is a package of energy!

We take these elements and "unzip" them, releasing *some* of their stored energy. We are not very efficient in this fission process, because we still have elements left over with enough energy of their own to radiate particals into space (yes particles have mass, so they also require energy to be radiated out).

To make matters worse, of the amount of usable energy we did get out of the reaction we only use approx 70% of it directly, in the process of boiling water to steam, rotating turbines, and generating electricity. 30% or so is lost in the tanks (heat losses), mechanical friction of berrings, and electrical resistivities of windings in the turbines (heat generated in wires).

You want a magical technology, well you should be hoping for "more efficient" technologies instead of fussion reactors. Then that matchbox of waste your house would produce in a year might actually be able to sustain a subburb for a year!

Posted on 2003-04-24 17:01:13 by NaN

The real magical energy technology is ZPF (zero-point-fluctuation) energy. Energy that is truly created from nothing at all, absolute vacuum (I know quantum electrodynamics says one cannot exist, I said it for effect). QED implies that a vacuum is actually paired quantum particles that are continually annihaliting each other, Heisenberg further predicts that there are particles being created constantly inside a vacuum. This creation/annihalation produces the energy that is the background noise of the universe and the reason that there is a lower end frequency that can be achieved in the electromagnetic spectrum. If you think of an oscillator, and remove the heat effect by cooling it to absolute zero and the excitation it should come to complete rest yet there is always a small oscillation present. This implies energy that is being expended on the oscillator from somewhere. That energy is the actual force that created the universe itself (according to QED)- the byproduct of the transition from vacuum to matter and back to vacuum. There is currently research taking place into harnessing this energy, if it is harnessed it means energy without fuel and without waste ! There are predictions that the energy density of a vacuum is at least that of nuclear and may even be infinite. They have already done experiments at Los Alamos labs that have proven that it is an exploitable form of energy and that it does not violate the First Law. Maybe 100s of years away but that is where the research should be concentrated, Fusion is at best an interrim solution.
Posted on 2003-04-24 17:30:50 by donkey
this is one of thoes too good to be true things !
smells like snake oil to me
thay clame to be getting more power out than thay put in
this has to be a scam
I would be all for it if it were true
but I doubt that it is
Posted on 2003-04-24 17:35:00 by rob.rice
rob.ice google for ZPF or zero-point-fluctuation or Vacuum Energy it is real, this is the future. Actually alot of the current research in Quantum Electro-dynamics is focused right there. Here I found one for you that explains it, a bit technical but it is a good article:

Posted on 2003-04-24 17:39:18 by donkey
This is an interesting concept... i havent read the article, but already my mind is spinning ;)

To have a void (or vacuum) exist in an expanding universe, implies that there is some "investment" of energy, i guess. Since the universe is not punched with holes exposing the origionial, pre big-bang nothingness. I guess what im seeing is that energy is invested to arrage a vacuum or "filler" for the universe, such that it may expand. Sorta laying a road to drive on, if you will.

Taking this a bit further, then the ultimate death of the universe would be made a bit more clear: As the universe expands, its cooling and similarily is also increasing the amount of vacuum between the mass within it (energy abosbed by the universe, such it may expand further). When all mass is absolute zero kelvin, i would assume the vacuum energy itself will halt the expansion, since there can be no more investment in more vacuum space within the universe.

Hmmm.. to break up a vacuum, would imply somthing would occupy its space. Ether exotic particles, or would simply rip surounding mass into is space like a flash-point like black hole. I wouldnt really want to be around to discover the latter ;)

Posted on 2003-04-24 19:29:54 by NaN
Your grasp of physics in phenominal NaN, the concept that a vacuum cannot truly exist and the expansion of the universe is at the core of the theory as it is used in the modern theory of the origins of matter. The article is a good read if you understand the basics of the uncertainty principle and have a slight interest in quantum mechanics. I am not a physics whiz but I got interested in the theory when it was used in "3001 final oddessy" by A C Clarke,and read quite a bit about it then. Lately because of the subjects posted in this forum my interest has been rekindled, I was suprised to find out how far along the research had come in only a few years.
Posted on 2003-04-24 19:42:28 by donkey
That was a fantastic read!

I was surprised how close I was with my thoughts. I fully understood that article (skipping the math, in the most part). However i did like the bit of math showing how particles would travel through a vacuum. with w^3 energy nullifying any transfer of kenetic energy.

I also fully understand how the two plates would be "pushed" together. Its a fantastic idea, that is very clear to me. Frequency is in *everything*. So im not surprised to read that its also what causes two masses to attract. Its like a low pass filter vs white noise. The closer the plates get togther, the more freqencies are filtered out from aiding energy in keeping an inside "push". The outside "push" remains the same more or less ~ in theory, you would gain more "push" from the shift of the plates, allowing yet another even lower frequency to help "push" on the plates since there is a little more room for its wavelength). This also explains the sense of accelration between them..

Anywho.. i need to sit on that for a bit.. to truely injest it ;)
Thanx for the article...
Posted on 2003-04-24 20:13:19 by NaN
I found a less technically oriented and more recent article. apparently there has already been patents issued to a researcher from Edwards Air Force Base for ZPF energy collectors (U. S. patent (#5,590,031). Dr. Frank Mead, from Edwards AFB). Anyway for anybody who is interested in the cleanest way to provide unlimited power to humanity here's another reference from1999 :


I should note that these are extremely respected scientists and this is not crackpot stuff, it is quickly becoming a generally accepted theory in quantum dynamics. It is the subject of serious study by NASA , JPL and many university physics departments.
Posted on 2003-04-24 22:42:28 by donkey
I can't wait for a nuclear-powered car. Now you're playing with power >), only downside is if you wreck you take the city with you.

That was kind of an off the wall joke, for those who are naive..
Posted on 2003-04-25 02:22:35 by drarem

rob.ice google for ZPF or zero-point-fluctuation or Vacuum Energy it is real, this is the future. Actually alot of the current research in Quantum Electro-dynamics is focused right there. Here I found one for you that explains it, a bit technical but it is a good article:


All we can do with energy is convert it by getting it to
flow from a higher source to a lower sink even solar cells work this way so where will
we find a sink for ZPE ?

with out that we will never be able to use ZPE

from the paper in your link it reads like we would
need to create some empty space for the ZPE to flow into
to convert it into something useful

so how can empty space be created ?
Posted on 2003-04-27 23:53:45 by rob.rice
Well, I guess that's the big question isn't it. But there are many Physicists who believe it may be possible to extract this type of energy. I don't pretend to understand the physics involved. NaN would have a better chance of answering that question than I would. For the most part the scientific community sees great hope in the extraction of energy from vacuum using micro-spacing of dielectric plates where radiation pressure creates an imbalance in the ZPF field.

You also have to remember that by it's nature ZPF creates it's own "sink". It is in effect the transition from vacuum to matter to vacuum that creates it so tapping it would neither be inconceivable nor a voilation of the First Law.
Posted on 2003-04-28 00:22:41 by donkey