ITER (was Re: David Suzuki...)
- --- In Know_Nukes@yahoogroups.com, "csceadraham" <csceadraham@y...> wrote:
>My comment on ITER in the local free paper:Graham rocks. Gotta post it...
Jun 10, 2003
To the editor:
ITER will not steal fire from the sun, at whose centre ordinary hydrogen
self-reacts. If making that happen in a bottle were not beyond the wit of
man, ITER might synthesize 500 tonnes of methane using the fusion energy of
the hydrogen in a litre of water.
It won't. Rather, ITER will explore an easier kind of fusion that consumes
two things: the rare element lithium, and heavy hydrogen, a minor, currently
hard-to-extract constituent of water. That difficulty and lithium's scarcity
mean the amounts a working, gas-making ITER successor would go through per
500 tonnes of product cost almost $200.
Some necessary context: today that would mean a $100,000-plus revenue loss
for natural gas producers, plus a similarly large loss to government of the
heavy taxes that it hides on consumers' bills.
Although the producers might take their lumps good-naturedly, there would be
But to everyone else it would be undiluted good news, especially considering
that the fusion-generated chemical fuel could be chosen with a view to not
blowing up any more strip malls, as natural gas did last month in Etobicoke,
nor houses, as propane did in Colborne on the third of October 2001.
We wouldn't make gas. We'd pick something more effective, something that
doesn't need special plumbing, something safe.
Aside from needing a plumbing-like network of wires, and not being a
chemical, electricity isn't that far off the mark. Our practice of
delivering fission energy as electricity to houses and workplaces is already
But the uranium that today prevents $100,000 in fossil fuel from being
distributed, burned, and taxed can't be had for any $200. More like $3,000.
So ITER may accomplish a real advance, although not, in my view, as big of
one as developing a better form than electricity in which to distribute the
clean, inexhaustible nuclear energy we already have.
Hold the door for the stranger behind you. When the driver in the adjacent
lane signals to get over, slow down. Smile and say "hi" to the folks you
pass on the sidewalk. Give blood. Volunteer.
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