Heavy Ion Fusion
Google Tech TalkNovember 11th, 2010Presented by Dr. Charles Helsley.Abstract:The limited supply and worldwide environmental effects of carbon-based fuels demand that a different source of energy be identified and tapped. This analysis applies to synthetic bio fuels as well as fossil fuels. The obvious candidates to supplant carbon-based fuels are solar conversion, wind generation, hydraulic generation, geothermal extraction, fission, and fusion. When scaled to the size necessary to satisfy the energy demands of the world, all except fusion have severe unmitigated environmental impacts, induce geopolitical instability, or exhibit very limited availability, reliability, and sustainability. Most technologies suffer from more than one of these drawbacks.The fusion of Deuterium and Tritium ("DT") to form Helium and a neutron is a well-known reaction that yields prodigious amounts of energy. Though sufficient fuel is available in seawater to sustain the global energy demand for millennia, we still need an engine capable of running the reaction. As of 2009, the search for such an engine has been going on for 6 decades and common wisdom says it is still 5 decades away. The problem is that the search has been concentrated on the 1 GW regime (the size of a normal large power plant). HIF is that engine now.What is not generally known is that a safe practical way to harness the isotope's of Hydrogen reaction was developed in the 1970's but abandoned because it was only economically viable at a very large scale. The process is known as High Energy Heavy Ion Fusion. Such a fusion power plant would produce about 100 GW of power rather than the 1 GW desired by the power industry. Three facilities would meet the total needs of California, allowing fission and fossil fuel generation to be cut back significantlyHeavy Ion Fusion techology is more "ready to go" now than rocket technology was in 1961 when President Kennedy set the goal to go to the moon and back within the decade.The controlled ignition of DT provides a virtually unlimited source of energy. Fusion power can be on line in less than a decade. The energy produced by a single system is equivalent to a super giant oil field and will take about the same amount of time to come on line producing heat, electricity, hydrogen for synthetic fuel and water with a minimal carbon footprint.The life of HIF is thousands of years, while a giant oil field's life is only a few decades.Speaker Bio:Charles Helsley is a retired researcher at the University of Hawaii. He has lived in Hawaii for 32 years, was formerly the Director of the Hawaii Institute of Geophysics and was the Director of the University of Hawaii Sea Grant College Program at the time of his retirement. He is an expert in energy matters, especially in oil and gas resources and is knowledgeable about the effects that the of burning carbon-based fuels has on the earths ocean and atmosphere. He has been involved in many fields of research, from paleomagnetism, to seismology, to marine geology and more recently in free electron laser research and in open ocean aquaculture research under the banner of the Hawaii Offshore Aquaculture Research Program (HOARP) of which he was the principal investigator. He has published more than 100 papers in scientific journals during his career and still publishes papers every few years. He holds BS and MS degrees in Geology from the California Institute of Technology and a PhD in Geology from Princeton University.