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TOPIC: Where to focus appplications and research

#265 6 years 6 months ago
Where to focus appplications and research

AlainCo's Avatar
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Hi,
I'll make a summary of what I can get from our sub-forum "our life with LENR" (and the engineering sub forum) we manage on lenrforum...

There are ideas for application, but even more ideas for research beside LENR itself.

About LENR, it is important to have great economic impact, and for now the best way is first to focus on heat consumption in industry, in home heating, and even in air conditioning, .
You can first think about industrial heater, boilers.
You can think then about home heaters, even if you need few years of certification from industry experience.
You can think of cold production, trough absorption refrigerators.

Another familly of application are of key value, they are the application to clear , pump and desalt water, and to synthetize fertilizers.
People love desalinization, but water cleaning and pumping is even more important and can replace desalinization if well made. Water is naturally recycled without losses, but it requires energy to catch it back and make it usable again.
Fertilizers synthesis is less popular but is is clearly possible to reduce the cost of efficient farming, and moreover to make local production and reach independance, from big corps, and from broken logistic lines.

You can expect a third agricultural revolution. Keep in mind that just multiplying by 3 the farmer efficiency in Africa (Europe is 10 times more efficient) could solve all problems of food there.

the next easy possibility could be to replace big heaters down to the appliance size.
It is well described by Jed Rothwell in "Cold fusion future". the idea is to replace electric heaters with LENR reactors fed with less electricity. You find this kind of heaters, in industrial applications, in bakery/pizza/restaurant oven, in pools, in butcher fridges or ice rink (with absorption fridge), but you can naturally get down the mobile room heater, the home heater or even stove. Why not car/bus/ A/C ?

Maybe there could be some research needed to downsize the reactors, and more vital, to make it safer than gas, and cheap to build and maintain. It does not looks so hard from what we see today. Easier than making cheap turbine.
It is the second great research subject I would promote, miniaturization of LENR.

some dream of laptop-sized or phone sized LENR, but I dont think so, especially because heat to electricity conversion will produce much heat... I imagine that we will continue to recharge our electronic device, even if it is with a LENR reactor charger.

All those LENR appliance and heaters will just reduce electricity demand, but will not need to kill the grid.

Electricity (or mechanic, that is the same) is a very attractive application, but the turbine cost are awful (500-2000$/kWe), many times the cost of the reactor (100$/kWth), especially for home-sized reactors, good efficiency... We clearly need a HUGE effort to make turbine, Stirling, or TEG (thermoelectric generator), cheap and simple, especially at low power.
If I was a minister of Industry or research I would invest most of public effort in that domain, collaborating with industrial, so we win few semesters. It is harder than LENR reactors design. I'm afraid it will be the most difficult after making LENR fly.

Those turbines or TEG will be used first to make CHP in industry, big buildings and maybe houses.

Meanwhile LENR with existing turbine could easily replace existing engine anyway in heavy transportation (cargo, subs, warships, trains), and MW/GW power plants or CHP.. but the gain would be not so great... price reduction is required to impact heavily the economy.

anyway, like for shale gas, the impact of LENR will be to re-localize the jobs and the cash near the consumer, to empower the workers, to reduce geopolitics and wars...

About grid I don't know, and people disagree, how the electric grid will evolve. A good solution could be to have microgrid, but it requires that the electric company accept to downsize. If they decide to battle against small sized LENR, and keep their centralized structure, the cost of long lines will make them so inefficient that they will be rejected and that people will disconnect from the grid totally.
It will be amplified by the reduction of consumption, when LENR reactors replace heaters in industry and appliance. Fixed cost will stay stable, and consumption will get down.
This aggressive scenario is credible since the electric companies will have to dump most of their powerplant "reactors", having big investment to do to retrofit them, and will try to block home/district-LENR, and even maybe all LENR... I don't imagine that it can be peaceful.
Anyway the best solution is a smart grid, not designed to share scarcity and intermittence, but to optimize production locality and reduce peak power investment by sharing.
Long line should disapear, yet dense cities will share and save electricity optimally.

the will also exist a pressure to make cars. It is a very popular application, yet very hard to put to market... I expect big effort, big motivation, but long time to market. The marketing segment of luxury car is a good idea, because it is irrational, and LENR is "COOL", making it's cost regardless for some people. The slides of LENR Cars seems much more optimistic than me. I read with passion that a "Zoe" could be run without refuel at it's city speed... I hope I'm too pessimistic and LENR cars is right...
Small and cheap 10-50kWe turbine/TEG will be a requirement to make LENR cars popular.
I imagine that naturally LENR car will be Hybrid-electric first, and maybe one day non-electric, but probably just micro-hybrid.
Beside turbine, safety will be a great concern. In don't expect it to be hard technically, but I'm afraid of anti-witch movements that would ask for crazy safety, far better than today.

Truck and buses would in theory be easier to accept LENR, but the motivation will be on car...

Some estimate that LENr cars won't be popular until long, and that classic fuel will be used for long. It seems rational, but not sure... One possibility could be to make synthetic fuel, and there are processes. Some consume coal, gas or tar, but some can use CO2, or be based on hydrogen economy... My opinion is that when LENR get known, people will know that classic fuel will be doomed, and only cheap and fast solution will be appreciated.
I expect no progress in oil industry from then, just using old methods to empty the reservoir until everybody jump to LENR. Oil price will go down, but production too, and prospection first. Shales might be doomed because too expensive, or on the opposite, the off-shore will be doomed because local is better... When oil price get to increase again, it will be abandoned quickly like horses have been.


For planes, the SUGAR Nasa/Boeing study proposed interesting scheme. Hybrid seems to be the first possible design, but it is a great challenge in planes.
Turbines, Accumulator, and even reactors, are too heavy today, but I'm confident for reactors to be much lighter than Nasa requirement. For batteries we are not far. For turbine, again, this is a hard point...
Reliability of the propulsion will be a hard point, because hybrid propulsion is complex, thus hard to keep reliable. It will take decades to make it accepted for passengers.
I expect however great success in drone, especially military drones, because of autonomy advantage.
I expect also some niche market for tourism plane, and skydivers planes, if total price is interesting...

For rockets, there is hope to apply the "nuclear thermal rocket" design, probably with "Liquid oxygen enhancement" for take-off... not so sure it is efficient. cryogenic engines are efficient. Maybe will it be easier than plane, because safety and lifetime is different...

For space probe, LENR is a perfect replacement of radioisotope reactors. If we develop efficient TEG it will be a great improvement... I can be used very quickly anyway.


finally about what could slow down LENR adoption, I see first the problem of safety. the most easy will be to make LENR factually safe for home, for vehicles, for planes... the hardest will be to avoid the irrational fears, but maybe we should not imagine people will be so depressive as we are today. LENR will make us more optimistic. Hope so, fear no.

The price of investment in turbines will be a big problems for LENR deployment in non-heat applications. TEG and turbine is really a key factor, and if not solved fuel.

The war between incumbent grid operators, emerging smart grid industry, and electricity consumers, can also slow down LENR adoption, and the optimal solutions... Good project management seems to be required to avoid a bloody dead end when sure the incumbent will collapse, but some good solutions too, with much money, competences and sorrows.

Organizing planned creative destruction, protecting the competences, the peoples, the valuable investments, but not the incumbent operators, nor the old business models and methods, should be the goal of governments, but it seldom happens that way.


sorry for that messy summary... hope it can call for critics and make vision advance.
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