A Non-Conservative Outlook for LENR

The following post was sent by ECW reader Christopher Dennis as a comment on an earlier thread titled ‘The Structural Impacts of LENR‘, and I felt this would be a good starting point for a new thread.


I think the thread started by Oaklandthinktank — while very insightful about many of the possible scenarios surrounding the future of LENR, and very useful in generating discussion surrounding this — is too conservative on the dramatic possibilities of LENR, particularly in its speed of deployment and the compounding effects of its destabilising influence.

There is a tradition or tendency with destabilizing technologies to make predictions that are far too conservative — the idea that 640 K memory would be enough memory for anybody is only one example that comes to mind. While our current predictions may make sense within the paradigms that we function within at this point in time, these paradigms are pretty change , especially in conjunction with the destabilizing influence of LENR.

Paradigm shifts on several levels will have a compounding effect that will make it further difficult to predict any outcome. Furthermore, the speed at which these paradigm shifts occur currently is increasing, and has an exponential trend, so that it may be the case that full shifts are happening without us even being aware of them. With that being said, I feel we can make some projections that fall reasonably in-line with that which LENR will create.

It seems Oaklandthinktank’s this thread has probably grossly underestimated the gravity and quick impact that LENR will have on our current energy situation — particularly pricing. The tendency to be conservative both these projections, as mentioned above, is habitual and instinctive , but is shown to be incorrect almost across the board. We will not have to wait 10 to 15 years, for example, for all transport sectors to be radically modified by the deployment of LENR. Almost every argument on this forum that supports a drawn-out effect of LENR on the transport industry, as opposed to an immediate effect, makes the claim that it’ll take many years to switch to electric motors in all sectors. The presumption that we need to alter any existing craft at this point completely ignores the possibility of substituting fossil fuel with ELECTRICALLY GENERATED SYNTHETIC FUELS that will be far far cheaper with the advent of LENR.

We can all buy electric cars in the future, but as soon as LENR is deployed, the companies that make synthetic gasoline, diesel, and other fuels will be able to immediately produce these items at a far, far cheaper price than their fossil fuel analogues, making them available to pump into EXISTING vehicles. All existing refueling infrastructure (with the exemption of key input components) could remain the same. The local gas station can pump electrically-sourced gasoline into your current vehicle. Diesel trucks that form the backbone of transport of manufactured goods in North America could be refueled with existing diesel infrastructure , only with electrically synthesized diesel in the place of its regular form.

The entire shipping industry of the planet would make use of electrically synthesized fuels at a price far, far below what is currently being paid. The collective savings would not simply disappear as corporate profits – although certainly corporate profits would be increased — this money saved on fuel will be available to spend on all other areas of the economy by companies AND the consumer, where it was previously not available. This will be a BOON to all of these other parts of the economy — and will create more jobs – and will lead to greater productivity, innovation compounding towards higher economic growth, and effectively making the collective FAR richer than before.

There’s a reason why nearly no one employed in North America does the hard labor that their great-grandparents did. Most of the employed are reasonably fed, clothed, have some form of medical care, have access to basic transport ation, operate within a reasonably-conditioned temperature environment and have many other basic necessities that they did not produce themselved, but often exchange some form of service for these items that contains within it labor that is vastly less than the amount of “work” performed to create all these necessities (our great-grandparents and particularly a great-great grandparents were responsible for performing the labor to actually create many, if not most of these necessities for themselves, and thereby had far less of these necessities, with a greater amount of work invested to acquire them).

Right now the average Western desk-job worker is clothed, fed, heated, cooled and transported about, without their chopping any wood for heating or cooking, or tilling the land/growing food, or sewing/producing their own clothes (or having a family member sew them / produce them ), etc. The desk-worker gets all of the benefits of modern living via performing a service that is abstract ( for example, a computer programmer deals strictly in abstract, symbolic figures that have nothing to do directly with producing by hand all the goods and services that the computer programmer consumes). This kind of existence is made possible only by an increasing array of technologically advancing machines, all powered by cheap energy to do the ‘heavy lifting’. The advent of LENR will exponentially accelerate this process.

At the time of the American Revolution, 95% of American labor was in agriculture. As a previous post on this forum pointed out, though many dreaded the loss of employment due to the industrialization of the farm process, these workers were freed up to perform more advanced tasks – for example, working on the farm machines that had taken over their previous jobs – to the effect of eventually exploding the economy. This trend will not sputter with LENR , but will be sped up.

LENR will vastly increase our ability to “saddle” our machines with our increasing demands , further freeing us up in ways we can’t now understand, to do things we haven’t yet dreamt of. The massive effect that LENR deployment will have on world energy prices is only one effect that has been underestimated. Because of compounding effects , making any predictions about LENR is difficult , but I believe it is the conservative ones that will prove to be the most inaccurate – this being something we have seen before with other destabilizing technologies.

Christopher Dennis



  • Alan DeAngelis

    A little off topic but I just heard Rachel Maddow on TV referring to people who are aware of the abiotic synthesis of oil as conspiracy theorists.
    Perhaps she can tell us why Titan has more oil than earth.
    http://www.space.com/4968-titan-oil-earth.html

  • Omega Z

    Roger

    Growing the Economy(GDP) will increase Tax Revenue & reduce Government Welfare.

    Newly Created Jobs remove/reduce welfare claims And simultaneously providing Tax Revenue from payroll checks.

  • Omega Z

    I disagree…

    That’s not to say some Politicians wont think this way.
    And that doesn’t mean some Politicians wont try to take advantage of this kind of thinking to justify trying to grab a bigger piece of your income.

    But, In reality, If this technology allows a doubling of the GDP, They would in fact double their tax revenue without raising taxes by a single percent on anyone.

    Another Belief by some. The Banks will take a beaten.
    NOPE: They will make a fortune.

    All the Manufacturing facilities, All the power plant work will be financed by the Banks.

  • Ophelia Rump

    Welcome to the new paradigm of wealth and power. In the last Century of the Last Millennium a few powerful men realized that control of the handful of fuel sources to power technology was in a sense the ability to hoard the social equivalent of that power for themselves. With a ubiquitous source of energy that paradigm no longer holds true.
    But to truly understand the meaning of that old paradigm and the new paradigm which will inevitably take it’s place, we need to understand why that last century was that way. The seemingly limitless resources the century started out with to power the seemingly limitless possibilities was not limitless for either the fuel sources, or their consumption.

    In this new paradigm for a new millennium, if we understand there to be a new and limitless fuel source there still remains the old limit of consumption. It costs the rich man of the last century little if the poor man gets his energy for free, the vast majority of consumption for the individual today happens at the industrial level where the benefits of ubiquitous energy benefits the rich man.

    Does this mean that there will be no change in the paradigm of social power? No, it does not.
    The new power and wealth will flow from the ability to consume energy, unlike the old paradigm of controlling the source of energy. I am not saying that you will gain social control by leaving the lights on while you sleep.
    The new wealth will come from managing the industrious consumption of energy and the distribution the benefits derived from that energy.

    Now I ask you another question, but this time you supply the answer:
    Does the rich man of the last century of the last millennium really have anything to fear from this paradigm shift as long as he controls the corporations, the commodities, the physical resources of the earth itself?

  • Alan DeAngelis

    Yeah Henry, the puppet masters obviously don’t give a damn about CO2 or they’d be promoting the E-Cat instead of ignoring it. What they really want is a carbon tax and you can’t get a carbon tax form a game changer that wouldn’t generate any CO2.
    The E-Cat has really called their bluff.

    • Alan DeAngelis

      …tax from a…

  • guga

    It is very unlikely that synthetic fuels will be important any time soon, even if LENR becomes a rapid success. Imagine what huge and very expensive plants you would need to generate a significant amount of synthetic fuel. Right now we are just pumping it out of the earth, but really making it in a plant, that’s another story.
    I even doubt that all the necessary technologies are already developed for a production at such a scale, as this was not interesting in the past because of energy costs. So even if it would seem to be an interesting investment, it would take at least a decade until reasonable amounts are being produced (development, planning and building plants), and that only if big money is being invested.
    But who would invest big money if the obsolescence of liquid fuels is on the horizon with the LENR revolution? Homes can be heated without oil, cars may get their own LENR generators eventually…
    So no, LENR will be a revolution, but not of that sort. Although, most likely we will all be wrong somehow… ;)

  • Charles

    Good to meet you Fibb. I’m the cstewart1929 that tabs into EESTOR.com every now and then. Great story that EESTOR. Being an electronics engineer in my past life I had fits of joy when I first found out about EESTOR and what they thought they could do. Also, I have great experience in control systems using permanent magnet (and alnico- glad PMs can replace that) DC motors, and I love the very thought of combining EESTOR capacitors and electric motors. EESTOR capacitors and solid state PWM control of pancake motor wheels seems to be the way to go for autos. Virtually instant charging of the capacitor is the thing that really rings my bell.

    I’m waiting to hear what Evans has to say, they apparently can really be relied on. I looked up the PR and presumably, Zenn is trying to totally capture EESTOR. Now why-ever would they want to do that?

  • OaklandThinkTank

    I like this. :)

    With warthog’s point about local sources of carbon, and astralprojectee’s certification-lag in mind, perhaps a rough scenario?

    DIY-win Scenario:
    This year, backyard tinkerers post youtube demos of simplistic LENR brews, COP 3, for home heating (not worth electricity, though). The set-up is minimal, just enough to work. With it, you make your own car fuel. No taxes. The carbon comes from your garbage and neighbor’s yard. Pyrolysis of biomass is nearly competitive with gasoline on its own, and worth it for folks with abundant carbon. (All Power Labs is talking to the nut-growers of CA, as walnut husks are usually burned in the open, disposal too costly…) Easy on-site heat at a 3 COP would boost that competitive advantage. (Currently, a portion of the syngas is burned to maintain pyrolysis temp. – LENR could boost output, especially combined with personal solar to run the reactor.) And tax-dodging would be a huge leveraging factor in many countries. I can gather some stats on syngas pyrolysis and gas prices – it’d be nice to see the real return for even a minimal brew, and combined with solar for electricity, any improvements/scavenge for solar /or/ LENR further lower costs. I’ll try to get a bead on the size of the market, at each price, too. :)

    After a couple years, certified LENR enters the market, and major power companies switch. (Electrical generation accounts for a huge fuel load, and their big budgets and need to re-allocate capital will drive rapid conversion. see: Brillouin, Industrial Heat) Certification for on-board systems may take another few years, but conversion is rapid because of green-minded subsidy countries (Germany), and countries with high fuel taxes (UK, Japan). They drive for development of economical designs, which spread to the world market.

    But, recall our DIYers – they’ll have perhaps 2-3 years lead on the power companies, and 5+ year lead on transport conversion. Local farmers and tree-trimmers will be selling “moonshine” gas off home-brews to their neighbors, and re-investing their profits in improvements to their systems. The biggest early research-push would be crowd-sourced and low-budget, increasing the likelihood of finding accessible, and wildly successful, new brews. Governments and universities waiting for 6mo. test results before iterating their design would miss the 2cent solutions that home-brewers will try. Their community-support, national green-subsidy, and early foothold on the market, would allow these backyard brewers to become modest manufacturers, ramping-up equipment and scale with local demand. How long to saturate each market? I’ll try to get solid numbers for each region…

    So, while we may not have a reliable, accessible model at this moment, we can plan around one with minimal specs, and iterate from that. Home heaters are the bare-bones LENR. The next step would be pyrolysis-assistance for folks with abundant carbon. Solar or micro-hydro would give off-grid power for the reactor, and any improvements in those technologies would boost pyrolysis yields. Once home-brewers can manage higher COP, we’d switch to self-powered reactors, solar is gone. (That may be only a few years for the solar/hydro window… worth it?) What would be the target markets for home-brewers after industrial certification? Ammonia was mentioned earlier – and fertilizers are a good potential market. Many governments may be wary of this, though – ammonia is dangerous, both to make/handle, and as a potential explosive weapon.

    Given the distribution of the applications for each form of power, we can get a rough estimate of market share for home-brew vs. industrial reactors. The big question for the long-term, though – does expensive equipment let you build a significantly /better/ reactor? (An expensive factory will probably make units cheaper, sure – at issue is COP limits for home-brews.) Factories make better car parts than I could, so I buy from them. Factories can’t make better food than me, so I make my own. We can look at data from experiments so far – what does it cost Swartz to make his NANORs? Renzo Mondaini’s reactor? Mitsubishi’s? With an estimate of the curve relating performance to fabrication capital costs, we’ll have a good understanding of the final equilibrium between micro- and macro- suppliers.

  • Alan DeAngelis
    • Christopher Calder

      I researched this a few years ago and believe the Papp engine is a scam from A to Z.

      • Alan DeAngelis

        Mike McKubre thought it was real.
        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dS1MsymF8hc

        • bachcole

          Oops, for me, until further notice, the Papp engine is a done deal. For me, Mike McKubre walks on water when it comes to character and observational credibility.

          • Alan DeAngelis

            Here’s the whole Mallove interview (Papp at 1:40:00)
            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EQyduzCrTQs

          • Christopher Calder

            I hope you are right. I would love being proven wrong. All I can say is that I have never seen such a creepy website that seemed devoted to obfuscation. And they braged, claiming that “We are the experts.” Again, no legitimate, thoughtful scientist I know of would say such a thing. If it it is real science, it is done by people who have no taste, modesty, or talent for communicating with others.

        • Christopher Calder

          This is an interesting video. The scientist on this video who is doing Papp research is not the Papp engine company I saw on the web a few years ago. I did a web search and I believe the company I was referring to has been investigated by the SEC. There are several companies now on the web, and they have changed their websites, so I am not 100% sure which one was so “creepy”, but I think I found it. I don’t want to mention names. It’s still creepy. This technology has been around for decades. If it really works, why can’t anyone produce a machine that works in public? It either works or it does not work. If they have it, why not show it? Take it to MIT and get a Nobel Prize.

      • bachcole

        Did you decide this by watching the people or by watching the science or both? I am not challenging you.

        • Christopher Calder

          The website for the company is creepy and shows clear signs of a con job. I have not visited the site for years, but remember they had a picture of their laboratory and mentioned, without anyone asking, that this was real equipment, “not just stuff we have found”, or words to that effect. No real scientist would say such a thing. That is a marker for a con man, and not a very bright one. The history of the device comes from a proven con man. These are the second generation scam artists. I think they just put an electric motor inside the supposed Papp engine to give it a noise as if it is working. Watch the movie Glengarry Glen Ross. That is what I think the operation is.

      • Omega Z

        I’m of the Opinion that the Papp engine works but only intermittently.
        Note it has been around for a long time & likely suffers from what other LENR has suffered from for so long.

        The Exact perimeters of what works & what doesn’t.
        Science is just now learning to Understand Nano scale & how it works & why it appears to work under different rules then what is expected.

    • Alan DeAngelis

      PS
      Eugene Mallove talks about Papp (1:00).

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mvni1yvGmxc

  • Charles

    You’re welcome. Yes, electric cars – maybe. Have you ever heard of ultra-capacitors, ala EESTOR or whomever. Bye-bye batteries, 1800′s technology. Hang around Fib. Learn something.

  • Iggy Dalrymple
  • timycelyn

    And it really depends on what the carbon source of the synthesised fuel is. If this abundant and cheap energy can be used to take carbon dioxide as the original carbon source, then (possibly via reduction to carbon monoxide and reaction with hydrogen from water) take it up to simple hydrocarbons, then the whole ‘burning fuels is bad for the environment’ thing would be for the history books.

    But I agree this would only be bridging technology allowing use of more or less current vehicles and fuel distribution network. In the longer term, a reactor under your car hood clearly beats all comers….

  • GreenWin

    One reason for liberal optimism is the steady stream of CF patent applications appearing. The latest, partially financed by Navy Surface Warfare Center (Indian Head Div), filed by inventor Pharis Williams looks to be a D+D fusion reactor utilizing thermoelectric diodes to produce 10kWe output in an home AC-sized unit. See post in Always Open Thread. http://www.e-catworld.com/2013/10/always-open-e-cat-world-thread/

    • roseland67

      Greenwin,
      The total # of patents might slow any industrial development as
      everyone with a patent will claim their patent is being infringemed upon
      so the first succesful deployment may get hung up in court battles for decades.

      • GreenWin

        True. But I see enough major differences in the approach to obtain these LENR effects. This one claims D+D fusion (via metal hydride) without gamma at very low energy levels and Williams scales the whole thing up to achieve energy density useful even at low thermal conversion efficiency. Doubtful this infringes on any other LENR patents currently in play. But we can be sure there will be major infringement battles. Especially with big players like STMicro and Google involved.

        • SiriusMan

          In what sense is Google involved in LENR?

          • GreenWin

            They’re not, that I know of. They ARE heavily invested in HEM (Home energy Management) having acquired “energy appliance” startup Nest Labs for a 30X multiple of $3.2B. Nest is partnered with utility NRG to manage home energy systems. NRG is testing the Beacon10 micro-CHP based on Deka’s Stirling engine. Google’s overinflated price for Nest suggests “energy appliances” include more than an intelligent thermostat.

      • Allan Shura

        The patents only apply to real improvements that enhance the technology from what has expired. There has to be a significant market share to continue in business as the originator after expiry. There has to be capital and a level of knowledge to add to the product enough to put competitors using prior art at a disadvantage. That is what keeps companies going with small incremental improvements rather that the boundary of what can be realized. The irony is that prior art can be often enhanced with new materials or add-ons and that many energy expired patents have significant utility. This is even though many game changing patents were never put on to the market in useable products. Expired patents look to be the starting point or base building block for both
        start up business and open source development.

  • Ophelia Rump

    Not only can we not know what change LENR will bring, we cannot know what LENR will become, or what other unrelated changes will accompany it in into the future. Prophecy is a fools game, when you are headed toward the singularity where change becomes exponentially greater with each passing day.

    But this we can know: Any thing which is capable of short term doubling (or greater) in returns. Will rage across every available avenue of advancement beyond the wildest dreams of compound interest for a banker getting 100% interest, more like yeast doubling every twenty seconds. A cascade or avalanche of unstoppable momentum. If it comes at all, it will come with an unprecedented rate of growth, and it will carry with it a wall of revolution like a tsunami.

    Embrace the change, learn to swim!

  • Marc Ellenbroek

    The total efficiency of synthesizing carbon-hydrogen fuels and then using it again for transport is very inefficient and will not be able to compete with direct conversion to electricity. True, direct conversion will take time to develop, but building large scale synthesizing factories will also take time. At the same time we know all kind of heat to electricity conversion techniques, which will not take long to develop for small size applications like transport. At he same time there is a possibility that the very strong magnetic anomalies can be used to directly generate electrical power from the LENR process.

    • Fortyniner

      I agree – I think that widespread production and distribution of synthetic fuels is unlikely. The world consumes some 3.5 billion tonnes of oil per year, mainly for liquid fuels, so at present usage, an equivalent amount of carbon feedstock would need to be found from somewhere and processed into hydrocarbons or alcohols for use in IC engines. The only feasible sources to meet such a demand are probably carbonate rocks (limestone, chalk) or just conceivably, CO2 in seawater.

      Either way a massive investment would have to be made in infrastructure in order to create the synthetic fuels at an energy efficiency of just a few percent, and in the full knowledge that the market would decline rapidly and essentially be gone in a decade or so as electric propulsion takes over. There would also be great competition from oil companies exploiting the remaining reserves by attempting to undercut any such enterprise. Quite simply, no-one is going to stump up the billions necessary to invest in such a market.

  • QcJym

    “synthesized fuels”? Looks like someone is missing the point here. LENR is not only to reduce cost, it’s more to get rid of pollution, you know, burning fuel, witchever kind it is…

  • Christopher Calder

    “The entire shipping industry of the planet would make use of electrically synthesized fuels at a price far, far below what is currently being paid.”

    Perhaps, but only very briefly. Even first generation LENR reactors are good enough to power ships directly through making steam. A ship is an easy and large, stable platform to couple Hyperions or Hot-Cat reactors in large enough numbers to power a 80,000 HP turbine ship engine. Defkalion already has plans for that. Trains will be second easiest to power with LENR. Cars will be difficult because of the small spaces and G forces.

  • Pekka Janhunen

    Synthetic hydrocarbon fuel needs energy and carbon to make. Although LENR might provide the energy, it certainly doesn’t provide the carbon. It could work if one replaces hydrocarbons with ammonia made from water and air, but then existing engines and fuel systems should be modified – perhaps not much, but modified anyway.

    • Job001

      Carbon can be recycled, absorbed from the air, plants do it, given low cost energy. US wood(and other biomass) is nearly fully renewable and will be even more so with LENR energy to harvest and process.
      Ammonia is a no-go idea, it kills people in 5 minutes at about 200PPM, at 25PPM lung damage starts.

    • Donk970

      There is a vast amount of carbon in the atmosphere which can be extracted using electricity.

    • Warthog

      Lots of carbon in the garbage you leave at your curb to go to the landfill. Plus lots of other goodies (metals). Cheap LENR energy will make it possible to gasify the carbon fraction into CO and H2 (just add water), which can then be reacted in many ways into liquid fuels. Now you have to pay to dispose of it…….in future, they may pay you for it.

  • Leonard Weinstein

    Christopher,
    You are unduly optimistic. There is a tendency for people to be locked in current jobs and technology. When major changes came (the industrial revolution, development of automobiles, airplanes, electric light and motors, computers, etc.) there eventually was a total change for the better. However, when automobiles came on the scene, workers at horse stables, whip makers, etc., lost jobs and mainly did not adapt in favorable ways. It took a new generation to take full advantage of the change. When farm machines come on the scene, many farmers went broke and moved to the cities looking for jobs, and went through a generation of problems. When high tech machines caused loss of factory jobs (not even considering jobs lost overseas), loss of total employment grew, and is still a problem in many cities. In general, some in the generation affected by a major change suffer, and it is following generations that more fully adapt. This should not have to happen, but it seems to be human nature. I think the LENR and related technologies will have a much slower imposed positive effect than you seem to indicate (with likely negative initial impact in the very large present energy industry), but a very positive long term effect.

    • Donk970

      There’s this odd tendency in some quarters to imagine that automation and offshoring of jobs will somehow benefit the workers with easier jobs or shorter hours. What always happens is that the new profits derived from paying fewer workers goes into the pockets of the corporate owners; it never benefits workers. Corporations will always seek to remove people from the negative side of their balance sheets. In the long run this will destroy those same corporations but they are not capable of thinking or acting long term. That’s what governments are for.

      • Job001

        Agree, Short term: job losses.

        Medium term, new jobs/more small business and cheaper products.

        Long term, very cheap products and self-sufficient people.

        Another view; Corporations first, small businesses second, and people last.
        This is due mostly to investment size and economy of scale.
        Large scale investment first, medium second and small scale(personal robot, 3D printers, computers) are developed last.

    • Obvious

      Unduly optimistic comments are to be expected on a thread about non-conservative outlooks.:)

  • LENR G

    I think a real good rule of thumb to keep in mind regarding human predictions are that we typically vastly overpredict short term change and radically misunderstand the direction of long term change.

    In other words our ability to factor in the necessary time for change to propagate usually misses key factors like economic and engineering realities and wrongly focuses only on what’s possible. And that our imagination usually takes us down the ‘wrong’ paths regarding long term change, which is steered by many factors, and misses many key developments.

    The reality is that predicting the future is complicated complex business.

    Hence, LENR will likely take an agonizingly long time to be acknowledged and get to market. It will also likely change the world much more radically and in different ways than even us here ‘in the know’ have projected.