Monday, January 24, 2011

Cold Fusion?

To start he is the definition of cold fusion: " the hypothetical near-room-temperature reaction in which two smaller nuclei join together to form a single larger nucleus while releasing large amounts of energy."

Recently in Bologna, Italy, a small group of scientists claimed to have perfected a small, near cold fusion reactor as seen depicted here. This reactor takes 1000watts of power, hydrogen, and nickel to get started. Once the reaction has begun, the power is reduced from 1000watts to 400watts where is it remains to maintain the reaction. 

"Rossi and Focardi say that, when the atomic nuclei of nickel and hydrogen are fused in their reactor, the reaction produces copper and a large amount of energy. The reactor uses less than 1 gram of hydrogen and starts with about 1,000 W of electricity, which is reduced to 400 W after a few minutes. Every minute, the reaction can convert 292 grams of 20°C water into dry steam at about 101°C. Since raising the temperature of water by 80°C and converting it to steam requires about 12,400 W of power, the experiment provides a power gain of 12,400/400 = 31. As for costs, the scientists estimate that electricity can be generated at a cost of less than 1 cent/kWh, which is significantly less than coal or natural gas plants."

With this use of common easy to find materials and the high ratio of energy used to energy produced this type of energy generation becomes highly profitable drastically changing the price of electricity. Also being that this type of nuclear reaction does not produce radioactive waste it would be possible to build such a device for your own personal use with the correct type of radiation shields. With this availability of cheaper, less pollutant and safe way to not only make electricity but also create copper. I can see this causing an effect to both the energy market and to the copper market, with its currently high price and this new way of creating copper it is safe to assume that the price of copper will drop. This one device could and probably will change the common trade of electricity and minerals due to the theology behind supply and demand. With the two materials needed to start and maintain this reaction having a higher demand the companies that gather and sell these minerals will raise the price. With more people wanting these elements, they can get away with overcharging as long as people will pay for it. In addition the supply of these elements will dwindle faster being the frequency and amount of uses has risen. The lower the supply and higher the demand the more the item costs. Then you have the output of this reaction, energy and copper. Currently there is a scarcity of copper in the world. Not only is the supply of this mineral low, yet the demand is extremely high being it is used for electrical wires and tubing for certain chemicals. It is even among one of the items/materials upon the list of most stolen objects. With this noted, when these type of reactors are put into mass operation or even used in small amounts the element copper will have a higher supply, and it will also be a high value of copper being it will be 100% pure copper. With an enriched supply of high grade copper and demand that is not changing or predicted to change drastically you can assume the price will drop. Being that people are no longer competing to get a small amount of copper, they are simply sharing a large abundance they will be less willing to pay high amounts for the substance.

The end result is not only will this cold fusion reaction cause the price of energy to drop being we have a new, cheaper, and more efficient way of producing it. It will have a trickle-down effect causing a change in the cost for several other materials. So not only will this change the energy market, yet also will change the world mineral exchange. 


Smith said...

What are the implications this could have on the global economy?

kern said...

Why is it safe to assume that the price of copper will drop? Does supply and demand affect your rationale?

How would this device change the market for these scarce resources?

Matthew said...

your questions have been answered, post has been edited.

Curt said...

This sounds like a very interesting alternative to coal or natural gas. Does using cold fusion to creat enrgy have any negative effects? Will it be more environmentally friendly than coal or natural gas?

Matthew said...

Cold fusion only has one real down side is that the reaction itself is radioactive. Yet it does not produce radioactive waste. The downside to the radiation is that it costs a little more to produce because of the protective shielding. However it is astronomically more friendly to the environment because it does not have any emissions which could save people money from having to use air scrubbers or any other pollutant controls.

Garrett T. said...

Sounds like a solid plan to me. I mean sure the reaction itself is radioactive but with no emissions the only real problem is making sure the reaction doesn't hit critical mass and explode. Any alternative fuel source with no emissions is probably best thing we can hope for at this point.