Matter/Anti-matter and alternate energy

The Rocketry Forum

Help Support The Rocketry Forum:

ColumbiaNX01

Red blooded white American male
Joined
Oct 30, 2009
Messages
1,755
Reaction score
21
Location
Somewhere
[From the mods: The OP has deleted his original post as well as many (or all) of his posts in this thread. Even so, some interesting and useful conversations were had so I'm leaving it the way it is. Be forewarned however, due to the missing posts, it may be difficult at times to follow the thread of the conversation. - Peartree]
 
Last edited by a moderator:

Cabernut

Well-Known Member
Joined
Oct 15, 2015
Messages
1,384
Reaction score
2
Fusion power is just around the corner. That will change everything.

As far as antimatter, very powerful but very difficult and expensive to produce. Please correct my numbers if they're off, but I believe them to be in the ballpark.
2mg of antimatter could power the average US household for a year, however it would also cost $125 million to produce that 2mg.

As far as antimatter weapons, assuming 100% efficiency and using the following E=mc^2 calculation:
E = (0.1kg) x (299792458 m/s)^2 = 8.987 x 10^15 J
and given the conversion: 1GJ = 0.23900573614 T
A 100g sphere of antihydrogen metal would have the explosive equivalent of a 2.1 megaton bomb, but at a cost of $6.25 trillion with today's technology.
 

ttabbal

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 19, 2009
Messages
1,082
Reaction score
22
Antimatter for energy production is science fiction at the moment. What little antimatter we have been able to produce is insanely difficult to make and very expensive. It's also near impossible to store. It's not like we can make up a barrel of the stuff. It's also not an infinite amount of energy created in an antimatter reaction. E=mC^2 holds for this if I am remembering properly, and the only antimatter ever created is measured in particles. There's also the difficulty in coming up with a way to convert the energy from the reaction into electricity. We currently can't do that directly from nuclear reactions either. We use them to make heat, to make steam, then spin turbines.

Fusion is only slightly more realistic at the moment. We can generate fusion reactions, but it requires more power to create them than we get out of them. I believe some groups are getting close to over-unity fusion, but it's a technology that has been 20 years away for 50+ years. Last I read, the longest we have been able to keep a fusion reaction active is measured in seconds. The decay products are still radioactive, though there are some possible reactions that would be significantly better.

Fission is possible today with various downsides. The biggest problem in my view isn't the technology, it's the businesses involved. They cut corners, which ends up causing problems that they expect the government (all of us) to pay to fix. Full meltdowns are extremely rare, but there are a number of lesser disasters that have caused issues like leaking radioactive material and other environmental contamination. Given the high construction and maintenance costs, not to mention the court costs to get started at all, I'm not sure there's much of a future here. There are some technologies that can make things a fair bit better. Pebble-bed reactors are much safer, for example. There are also some options we don't use for political reasons. For example, breeder reactors can process the waste from normal reactors. The downside is that they also make plutonium, which can be used for weapons. Thorium might work, but there is still a lot of research required before it could be used for power production at scale.

If you want to get away from fossil fuels today, the best bets are wind and solar. They can be deployed most anywhere, generate reasonable power levels, and don't use fossil fuels. For example, there is enough rooftop area in most cities to power the entire city with solar. What we need to make it work right now is better electrical storage and/or a more interconnected grid. Some areas would be better with wind due to weather conditions. Another possibility that is being explored is flying wind turbines to take advantage of higher wind speeds at altitude. There are even some solar thermal setups that store molten salt for power generation later. Those would work well in desert areas and provide nighttime power. Other options that are less universal are geothermal, tidal, and hydro. Those need particular features in the area to work. Can't do tidal if you don't have an ocean to work with, for example. And most areas that would work well for hydro are already in use.
 

Peartree

Cyborg Rocketeer
Staff member
Administrator
Global Mod
Joined
Jan 6, 2009
Messages
5,506
Reaction score
968
Location
Alliance, Ohio
Gas, oil, and coal are well developed and very mature technologies. New research only brings incremental improvements at this time.

Solar continues to be a developing technology. It is good for many specialized applications and only in the last few years has really become a competitive energy producer. Several members of this forum have rooftop panels that either generate power for their home or for their car, or both. Elon Musk announced last month that one of his companies is now selling a product that looks like shingles but is actually a solar roof that generates power and (according to Musk) will cost less to install than a traditional roof. If that bears out, who *wouldn't* want one? If I need a new roof and can pay more for shingles or less for a roof that generates electricity, why wouldn't I?

Wind power is good for places where the wind is regular and reliable. Not everywhere works. The newest generation of towers are more efficient than the last by a significant margin. This too is still an emerging technology and is advancing quickly. Only a few years ago wind was not profitable without government subsidies. Now it is, although sometimes only marginally. Ten years from now, that could be radically different.

Nuclear fission has room to grow, but concerns about safety after Three Mile Island and Chernobyl, as well as waste disposal issues have virtually stopped all construction of new power plants. The last I heard, the NRC had not issued a licence for a new plant in twenty years.

Nuclear fusion, despite spending hundred of billions of dollars in research centers around the world, is only slightly closer to proof of concept than it was thirty years ago. Last year, a fusion plasma was created that broke records and lasted longer than ever before. And it lasted for less than a tenth of a second. They are still probably thirty years (but maybe ten) from being able to sustain a plasma, which is a necessary *first step* toward being able to generate power from that plasma. I do not expect to see fusion as a viable energy source in my lifetime, likely not in my children's lifetime, and probably not in my grandchildren's lifetime. And I am an optimist.

Matter/Anti-matter is a paper theory that exists only in the realm of science fiction. We currently do not have the science, or the mathematics, to even do serious research. In particular, we have absolutely no way to generate anti-matter, nor any idea how to do so.

A better prospect is orbiting solar farms. They've been talking about them for decades but the deal killer has always been how to get the power back to earth where we need it. The second has been that if the "aim" is bad, the power transmission drifts off of it's target and cooks anything with which it comes in contact. Current technology may make both of these possible. High energy microwave electronics may provide a way to transmit power from orbit, and the Japanese are pursuing a means to build a power receiver, at sea, far from land, that the orbiting power plant can "aim" at. deviations from the center of the target would shut down the transmission. Even the Japanese estimate that this is at least thirty years away.
 

rcktnut

Well-Known Member
Joined
Oct 26, 2009
Messages
1,697
Reaction score
260
Location
Sheboygan WI
https://www.pbs.org/video/2365892300/ Watched it last night good program. China is making some great advances in solar power plants. The panels are getting much more efficient, and they have buildings full of lithium batteries to carry that power through the times the sun don't shine, nights, cloudy days. I like nuke power and as far as safety goes and efficiency the new designs are outstanding compared to the ones running now. There have been other shows on lately too, on climate change, and clean sources of power, all looking good, just have to start investing in it.
 

MCriscione

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 9, 2015
Messages
296
Reaction score
0
Disclaimer: I work in the Nuclear Power Industry as a Mechanical Engineer

Matter/antimatter annihilation is very different from the fission or fusion process typically associated with nuclear power. However, the nomenclature 'nuclear' does imply that it could conceptually include the field of antimatter (AM) power. There's trouble with though with the concept of AM power, we don't really HAVE any antimatter. We can create positrons and antiprotons in 'the lab' but typically that means something like the CERN supercollider. Actual elements? Nothing much beyond a few handfuls of Anti-hydrogen atoms for a few handfuls of minutes. (In 2011, the ALPHA experiment at CERN managed to make atoms of antihydrogen, and store them for nearly 17 minutes.)

The point is, to create AM, we need to input huge quantities of power. More than what is returned when the AM is annihilated. To make AM power realistic, we would need to either discover a cache of it somewhere in nature, nearby in our solar system (incredibly unlikely) or discover some 'shortcut' to creating AM (essentially Sci-fi land, right now)

You can read more here: https://space.about.com/od/Space-and-Astronomy-Star-Trek/a/Matter-Antimatter-Power.htm
 

ttabbal

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 19, 2009
Messages
1,082
Reaction score
22
What about my statement is not correct?

That is generally the idea. Both would destroy each other. The result would be more power then man can realize.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antimatter

Granted, wikipedia is imperfect, but that states that E=mc^2 is correct. And you're dealing with individual particles reacting. Yes, if you introduce an anti-particle and a particle, they annihilate and release energy. But it's not some inconceivable amount. It's also not in a form that we can use really. You get stuff like Gamma rays. What we need is electricity.
 

rstaff3

Oddroc-eteer
Joined
Jan 18, 2009
Messages
11,759
Reaction score
14
If that reaction was infinite, the first (2nd? 3rd or whatever) particle accelerator would have destroyed the world.
 

dr wogz

Fly caster
Joined
Feb 5, 2009
Messages
6,563
Reaction score
1,722
Location
Land of Poutine!
Right now, today, we have a few forms of energy that span multiple uses. If we concentrate on other sources of energy for specific uses, the cost can and will drop dramatically..

A lot of electricity is generated by steam turning a turbine. And that steam is generated from Coal, Gas (oil & natural), Nuclear, and solar (to some extent).
Propulsion is pretty much strictly gasoline or oil.. Electric is finally getting off the ground, and in some places, pedal power is king.

A lot of energy could be saved / used efficiently if we (north mainly) had geothermic heating & cooling, we could save on the electricity or oil we used to heat our homes & buildings. Solar to power (electric producing tiles) our homes / buildings, or solar to heat (heated hot water solar exchange) to heat our homes.. Save the oil for cars & travel.

Nuclear is great for electricity, but a fault in the system is, well, really bad. and as such, has a really bad rap..

Oil is king, and always has been. Only when it hits the cost we saw a few years ago, do we start looking other places..

If we could tap into other 'natural' sources for our energy, as Iceland does, we would all be better off.. if we could all go on an 'energy diet' we could also save in the long run..
 

Zeus-cat

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 14, 2009
Messages
4,643
Reaction score
859
I think a good mix of power sources is where we will end up in the near to mid future. All sources have advantages and disadvantages. Solar is great in areas that get a lot of sunlight, but long periods of low sunlight reduce the effectiveness of this source. I grew up in Minnesota and we had long stretches in the winter where we didn't get much sunlight and winter is when you really need power. Plus, solar panels are made with rare elements that are costly to mine and the mining itself can be pretty bad for the environment.

Anything that has to be mined has environmental consequences. My wife grew up in West Virginia and some of the areas that were heavily mined for coal have serious issues with pollution and landslides, etc. Nuclear has the same issues; you need to mine to get the fuel source and if the mining is not done responsibly you can have serious issues.

There is no perfect energy source now and I seriously doubt we will have one anytime in the future. There is always a cost.

A few weeks ago we moved into a house that we had built. It has geothermal heating and cooling. It should be interesting to see what it costs to heat this house. Supposedly it is about a 5 to 1 energy efficiency. For every watt of power to move the fluid through the system of ground loops you get the equivalent of about 5 watts of power in heat. We also went with 2x6 construction to increase the insulation on the walls.
 

MClark

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 21, 2009
Messages
2,777
Reaction score
865
Location
Glendale, AZ

rstaff3

Oddroc-eteer
Joined
Jan 18, 2009
Messages
11,759
Reaction score
14
Ya!
More oil!
https://www.breitbart.com/texas/2016/11/15/big-oil-feds-call-west-texas-deposit-largest-history/

I have theory oil is made by bacteria in the ground. They convert the carbon from carbonates in limestone and the hydrogen from water into hydrocarbons. Energy comes from heat in ground, thermal synthesis rather than photo as in plants.
It is just my theory, and it does require a whole new form of life, but it means we never run out of petroleum.

M
That's all over Facebook...at least on the Texan's pages :)
 

samb

Lifetime Member
Joined
Jan 22, 2009
Messages
3,967
Reaction score
374
Location
Plano, TX
Too many damn engineers on this forum. We're talkin' STAR TREK TECH here, not a universe where economics, Einstein, and Newton rule ! :wink:
 

Cl(VII)

Chris Bender, Lab Rat
TRF Sponsor
Joined
Feb 22, 2013
Messages
4,693
Reaction score
993
Location
Garland, TX
Too many damn engineers on this forum. We're talkin' STAR TREK TECH here, not a universe where economics, Einstein, and Newton rule ! :wink:
As much as I love Star Trek, that hurt Sam.
 

rstaff3

Oddroc-eteer
Joined
Jan 18, 2009
Messages
11,759
Reaction score
14
Everyone has forgotten mystical energy. There's a documentary on that at the theaters now.
 

Igotnothing

Well-Known Member
Joined
Oct 26, 2014
Messages
898
Reaction score
122
<Looks outside at clouds 200+ days a year.>

What is this "solar" of which you speak?
 

Bat-mite

Rocketeer in MD
Joined
Dec 5, 2013
Messages
11,129
Reaction score
1,862
Location
Maryland
Solar is no good in a nuclear winter. Never buy a power system that can't handle adverse conditions. :wink:
 

boatgeek

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 27, 2014
Messages
3,468
Reaction score
2,012
Yeah, I'd love to have Scotty in the engine room too, but it ain't gonna happen soon. Fusion has been well-covered above. Fission only works economically if the government provides the insurance in case of a Big Oops. If I (as a taxpayer) am covering the losses, I sure as heck want a share of the profits, but I don't get one really. Oil and gas reserves keep going up because we keep generating better technology to extract it from the ground. Nobody thought that you could get significant amounts of oil out of North Dakota until fracking was invented. And natural gas is so cheap now, that there's virtually no incentive to put in a coal plant.

If you don't believe in anthropogenic climate change, I suggest scrolling all the way to the bottom of this: https://xkcd.com/1732/. It's not so much that we're warmer than we've ever been (average temperatures are around the same as 5000 BC), but that the rate of change is so far off of the historical trends. Right now, CO2 levels are where they've been in the past, but in those times, Earth didn't have ice caps.

My preferred mix is something like wind, solar, and hydro. In general, the wind blows when the sun doesn't shine, and hydro is really good at filling in grid needs.
 

boatgeek

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 27, 2014
Messages
3,468
Reaction score
2,012
<Looks outside at clouds 200+ days a year.>

What is this "solar" of which you speak?
Seattle's much like that too. My panels generate about 30% of their total annual power in July and August when it's pretty clear on average and 16+ hours of daylight.
 

patelldp

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 23, 2009
Messages
5,647
Reaction score
88
It's reckless to suggest that global warming and climate change do not exist, and that's coming from someone that works in the fossil energy sector. While I completely see the need for green and sustainable energy, there's also a need for more efficient coal and gas power plants.

Nuclear power is also enticing and has been incorrectly stigmatized. Here's a great TED talk covering the subject:

Michael Shellenberger: How fear of nuclear power is hurting the environment

The number one thing you need to do is educate yourself before commenting publicly. If you choose to "believe" or "not believe" in something, you're probably ignorant of the opposite viewpoint.
 

patelldp

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 23, 2009
Messages
5,647
Reaction score
88
I think we do need more coal and gas powered plants. Yea Nuclear has gotten a bad rap. I think people should rethink nuclear as a good energy source.

I do not believe in global warming. Its my political views and how I was raised. Both grandfathers worked for petroleum companies. I have great respect for them.

Before you call me ignorant I see your from NY. I guess its just the difference in the locations we are at. People here in Oklahoma dont think the same way NY people think. Agree to disagree. Wrong or right its just different. thanks Difference between the central part of USA and the Left coast (east coast)
It literally has nothing to do with where I live, I don't vote like a typical New Yorker. You're not part of the "cigarettes don't cause cancer" crowd, are you?

You can choose to believe, or you can choose to learn. My mother in law (also from NY) doesn't "believe" in global warming. Global warming is real, it's quite elementary.
 
Top