Last login: Thursday, March 31, 2011
In his speech yesterday, President Obama wants the US to lead the world in an array of innovative new energy technologies than can help reduce our country’s dependence on foreign oil. He also feels strongly that nuclear power generation is a vital component of the overall US energy portfolio since, unlike fossil fuels, nuclear processes don’t release carbon dioxide into the earth’s atmosphere and thus potentially help ameliorate global warming. His vision for the future of energy is all well and good. However, the potential risks underlying present-day fission technologies are all-too-apparent in the slowly unfolding horror at the failing Fukushima nuclear plant complex in Japan.
That being the case, is there an alternative nuclear technology that could potentially be developed that might provide society with a much safer, cleaner, even ‘greener’ form of nuclear energy going forward into the future? Fortunately, such a possibility does exist and it is called Low Energy Nuclear Reactions or LENRs. Unlike fission and fusion processes which primarily involve what physicists call the ‘strong interaction,’ key aspects of LENRs depend upon the ‘weak interaction’ --- this is exactly what makes them ‘green.’
Importantly, LENRs are not ‘weak’ energetically --- their reaction pathways can release just as much nuclear binding energy as fission and fusion reactions, but without emitting dangerous ‘hard’ neutron or gamma radiation and without producing large quantities of long-lived, hazardous radioactive wastes.
While little-heralded in the media, the physics of LENRs has been unraveled and published in respectable peer-reviewed academic journals. Thus the basic science is essentially complete; what is left to accomplish is the key task of device engineering. While successful commercialization of LENR is not a certainty at this point, it holds extraordinary promise as a breakthrough energy technology and deserves a far higher level of government and private funding and R&D effort than it has received to date. To learn more about this technology and where it might fit in the global energy portfolio, a White Paper is available at http://www.slideshare.net/lewisglarse...
Lewis Larsen, President and CEO, Lattice Energy LLC, Chicago, IL
March 31, 2011 at 10:35 a.m.
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