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Thursday, July 21, 2005


Researchers at Purdue University designed a "tabletop" device which apparently uses ultrasound to produce nuclear fusion reactions. According to the article,
Development of a low-cost thermonuclear fusion generator would offer the potential for a new, relatively safe and low-polluting energy source. Whereas conventional nuclear fission reactors make waste products that take thousands of years to decay, the waste products from fusion plants would be short-lived, decaying to non-dangerous levels in a decade or two. For the same unit mass of fuel, a fusion power plant would produce 10 times more energy than a fission reactor, and because deuterium is contained in seawater, a fusion reactor's fuel supply would be virtually infinite. A cubic kilometer of seawater would contain enough heavy hydrogen to provide a thousand years' worth of power for the United States.
To which my skeptical mind offers a couple of responses:
  • A cubic kilometer of seawater may contain enough deuterium to power the US for 1000 years at current usage, but with the development of outdoor air conditioning, SUV's the size of the places they're named for (Yukon, Denali, Sierra), and of course the ornamental sun craze, we'll be facing peak deuterium by 2050.
  • Does this make my solar roof obsolete already?
Of course, if the Big Ten goes back to only having ten schools in it sometime soon, we'll know why.