Bright Ideas: Hydrogen-Boron Fusion Promises Truly Green Energy – 24 x 365 x Forever

Redundant then; redundant now.

 

We’d have been better off if we’d spent the $trillions squandered on chaotically intermittent wind and solar on clean energy systems available 24 x 365, whatever the weather.

At a minimum, nuclear power generation (a safe, affordable and reliable system that works) could have been improved with investments in R&D aimed at improving efficiency and reducing nuclear waste.

Then there’s the opportunities forgone in terms of blue-sky technologies, such as nuclear fusion.

Sure, nuclear fusion may be a long shot. But, given what’s being squandered on subsidies to wind and solar that cannot produce power on demand, never have and never will, fusion is a shot worth taking.

Graham Lloyd reports on the latest breakthrough in fusion technology. This time involving generating CO2 emissions free electricity using high-powered lasers to fuse boron and hydrogen atoms together, without the production of any toxic waste or emissions.

Australian scientists close to developing holy grail of clean energy
The Australian
Graham Lloyd
21 February 2020

Australian scientists are tantalisingly close to developing the holy grail of clean energy, using high-powered lasers to fuse boron and hydrogen atoms together to generate electricity without any emissions or toxic waste.

A team of scientists at the University of NSW is developing the ­hydrogen-boron fusion technol­ogy, which is said to hold the promise of limitless, cheap baseload electricity with virtually no carbon ­dioxide emissions and zero radioactive waste. The only waste product is helium.

The pioneer of the technology, Heinrich Hora, said: “The clean and absolutely safe reactor can be placed within densely populated areas, with no possibility of a catastrophic meltdown such as that which has been seen with ­nuclear fission reactors.” Boron is cheap and naturally abundant, with sufficient known reserves to power the world for thousands of years.

Patents for the technology have been granted in the US, Japan and China to UNSW spin-out company HB11 Energy.

The research, which was conceived by Emeritus Professor Hora, has been under way for more than four decades.

It is a genuine moonshot on the pathway to a low-emissions world. If successful, it will follow UNSW’s other success in transformative energy technology with solar photovoltaics.

The announcement by UNSW of progress on its fusion research coincides with a new focus by the Morrison government on technology to combat climate change. The Australian revealed this week that the govern­ment would adopt a technology investment target as the best way to meet the net zero emissions goal countries signed up to in the Paris Agreement.

Professor Hora said Scott Morrison’s comments and a business group target of $22bn a year for investment in new technology represented “a new direction” in tackling climate change.

The government is planning to release a technology road map that will include advances in carbon­ capture and storage and other emissions technologies. Work is also progressing on a coal-to-hydrogen project based on Victoria’s brown coal reserves, with delivery of a hydrogen refin­ing plant to AGL’s Loy Yang facility in the Latrobe Valley.

The plant will be used as part of a pilot phase of the Hydrogen Energy Supply Chain project, a world first to establish the feasibility of supplying clean hydrogen from export from Victoria.

Fusion research has attracted billions of dollars in funding around the world. Many are claiming to be on the verge of a breakthrough similar to that of the UNSW team. However, ­others believe the technology is 30 years away.

Professor Hora said advances in laser technology had been the key to realising his theories of how to produce fusion energy without the massive amounts of heat needed by other approaches.

The laser technology’s developers, Donna Strickland and Gerard Mourou, were awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics in 2018.

With patents in place, HB11 will seek funding for final testing and development of a prototype. If all goes well, developers expect a pilot plant could be built within five years. The company will seek $1m for preliminary testing over 12 months. A further $5m would be needed over two years for international research collabor­ations to achieve experimental proof of concept. A pilot fusion electricity generator would require­ a further $80m.

“After investigating a laser-boron fusion approach for over four decades at UNSW, I am thrilled that this pioneering approach has now received patents in three countries,” Professor Hora said.

“These granted patents ­represent the eve of HB11 Energy’s seed-stage fundraising campaign that will establish ­Australia’s first commercial fusion company, and the world’s only approach focused on the safe hydrogen – boron reaction using lasers.”

Professor Hora said his react­or design was simple: a largely empty metal sphere, where a modestly sized HB11 fuel pellet is held in the centre, with apertures for the two lasers. One laser establishes the magnetic containment field for the plasma and the second triggers the “avalanche” fusion chain reaction.

A statement by UNSW said the alpha particles generated by the reaction would create an electrical flow that could be channelled almost directly into an existing power grid with no need for a heat exchanger or steam turbine­ generator.

HB11 Energy managing director Warren McKenzie said the approach could be the only way to achieve very low carbon emissions by 2050.

“As we aren’t trying to heat fuels to impossibly high temperatures, we are sidestepping all of the scientific challenges that have held fusion energy back for more than half a century,” Dr McKenzie said.
The Australian

One bright idea deserves a whole bunch of other bright ideas.

About stopthesethings

We are a group of citizens concerned about the rapid spread of industrial wind power generation installations across Australia.

Comments

  1. Jeff Walther says:

    While it is true that the money spent on building wind mills and solar panels would have been better spent on fusion research. It is also true that that money would have been better spent buying rocks and dropping them in the ocean.

    To spend the money productively, the best choice would have been to build fission reactors using existing designs.

    Build what is already known to work. That’s the way to get results. Not waiting for some new promised land of technology.

    Batteries, pumped storage, fusion, hydrogen — they’re all distractions from just leaning in and building what we already know works.

    France did it in less than 12 years. Surely Australia can do now what France did 40 years ago?

  2. Michael Darby says:

    Absence of carbon dioxide emissions is not a selling point for any form of reliable energy. Any unwarranted and unfavourable mention of carbon dioxide strengthens the resolve of the enemies of coal, who hate all reliable energy.

  3. Peter Pronczak says:

    The last I heard China had sustained nuclear fusion in a Tokamak for 30 seconds but that was some time ago. And intends to use Helium3 as fuel – the reason for the far side of the moon activity.

    The HB11 site doesn’t say very much. I’ve heard forms of fusion energy can possibly provide a fusion torch to make new elements from waste and propulsion for space travel. But not if these could be achieved with unlimited electricity or a continuous barrage of atomic particles.

    Hydrogen-boron fusion technology would be good, but Greens would be pointing to the ‘virtually’ no carbon dioxide emissions, and an increase in helium giving us squeaky voices.

    According to turbinesonfire.org if you google “wind turbines fires stories,” you come up with a staggering 3 million, five hundred thousand hits.
    So anything is better than the Queensland government’s plan to put 226 turbines in adjoining state forests. State Minister for Planning Mr Cameron Dick, having granted approval for the proposal last week.

    Mr Cameron Dick and Forest Wind have stated the potential to generate 1200 megawatts of electricity at capacity. This means the turbines would each have a plated output of approximately 5.3 megawatts.
    Cost figures only seem available for 2 megawatt turbines at $US3-$US4 million each installed. Presumably depending on transportation and place of installation.

    Also the state Minister for Natural Resources and Energy Dr Anthony Lynham said in December 2019, that the State Government is working towards achieving 50 per cent renewables by 2030, and said, “We’ll keep working with Forest Wind Holdings and key stakeholders to facilitate the long-term access and operation of the wind farm, and to maximise the value of this land.” He also announced that there would be cheaper electricity available for charging electric vehicles during the day, “They’ll have the same cheaper rate if they want to charge at night.” This came at the same time as Energy Qld Ltd lodged updated submissions to the Australian Energy Regulator for Ergon and Energex’s network investment plans for 2020 to 2025 that had Dr Lynham state, “We have the energy trifecta here in Queensland: lowest prices on the eastern seaboard, reliable supply and a planned transition to a renewable future…These revised submissions will ensure residents all over Queensland will have access to reliable electricity in times of natural disasters such as cyclones and bushfires.

    This would appear to be part of the Labor-Greens alliance to present renewables as a fait accompli.
    One of the key stakeholders is Siemens Financial Services and the picture of a Siemens turbine on fire seems to have disappeared like info on the 2009 BP Solar factory fire in Germany.

    There was no prior flagging of the wind farm proposal that appears to have come with a rush after questions were raised in August 2019 about adequate electricity supply for the Rheinmetall NIOA Munitions factory in Maryborough, QLD.

    Dr Lynham’s has some questions to answer re “…reliable electricity in times of natural disasters such as cyclones and bushfires.” Among other things.
    Time and time again cyclones and bushfires have cut electricity supplies, with the recent months of fires having suppliers predicting that some places will not be reconnected for up to 12 months.
    Queensland’s coal-fired power stations were supplying the eastern grid’s shortfall due to unreliable renewables prior to the grid being destroyed by the dramatic extent of the bush-fires.

    As the turbines will be in pine plantations in the state forests there is some trade-off with clearing sufficient area to erect them “…and to maximise the value of this land.”
    They are to be located on high ridges so no birds will be affected as they will be “higher than birds fly.” Really? And some people believe it.
    How much concrete just to hold the turbines up?
    Tasmania has banned activists from forests that may be associated dead bird counting. With that ScoMo government assessment that 7 wind farms would have zero effect on bird numbers.

    Why should only those who have electric vehicles have cheaper day-time electricity?…(Another ‘initiative’ that has a local EV maker grinning).
    This is no different to residents in situations that preclude having solar panels for years subsidising those who have. Where is the mantra of the ‘fair go for all’, isn’t it ‘unAustralian’?

    For how long have residents been overcharged for electricity supply?
    Another ‘stroke of the pen’ reality.

    Dr Lynham’s statement shows a total loss of a grasp on reality: The same can be said for anyone else who believes renewables are in any way shape or form a logical progression to a sustainable dependable socially supportive future.

    And nothing much seems to be happening with Chief Scientist Alan Finkel’s national hydrogen fuel strategy.

  4. Reblogged this on ajmarciniak.

  5. Reblogged this on uwerolandgross.

  6. Yes, I read this. Just look at again:

    “Australian scientists are tantalisingly close to developing the holy grail of clean energy ….”

    “A team … is developing the ¬hydrogen-boron fusion technol¬ogy, which is said to hold the promise of limitless, cheap baseload electricity…”

    “Patents for the technology have been granted in the US, Japan and China to UNSW spin-out company HB11 Energy”

    “With patents in place, HB11 will seek funding for final testing and development of a prototype. If all goes well, developers expect a pilot plant could be built within five years. The company will seek $1m for preliminary testing over 12 months. A further $5m would be needed over two years … to achieve experimental proof of concept.”

    I can’t understand how they can get patents when they haven’t actually SHOWN the concept working in the laboratory – a prerequisite to the prototype, the pilot plant and the proof of concept.

    Apart from which, taking out a patent in China is just gifting the research to them. They’ll take it and run with it – if any country makes something of it, it will be China not Australia. They’ll make some minor change, patent the changed version and there you go – another glorious triumph for communism and nothing for the west to show.

    Anyway, this technology is to far away from commercial exploitation to be any use to us in the next decade. We want / need either HELE Coal or existing nuclear power station designs, and we need them NOW and we should not be sidetracked by this research project

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