A fusion power generator in every home?

Note: I wrote this on my earlier blog hosted as http://parallelspirals.blogspot.com. I recovered the text from the WayBack Machine. This post appeared on February 4, 2011 as per the time stamp. I’m trying to collect here again all my old writings spread on various blogs.

In my early morning flip-through of the Times of India, I came across this interview with M Srinivasan, a retired BARC scientist and the chairperson of the organising committee of The International Conference on Condensed Matter Nuclear Science. About 60 scientists are expected to attend the conference to be held in Chennai next week. The thought that made me pause was Srinivasan’s vision of having a nuclear fusion power generator in 20-100 kW category in every home.

The concept is great. It could easily replace the diesel and kerosene guzzling generators that are used in buildings and houses today. It also does away with transmission and distribution losses that comes along with having a central grid style architecture. A recent Google Talk by environmentalist Stewart Brand talked about having a few MW installation of nuclear fission reactors being under design with similar purposes.

Srinivasan describes that cold fusion study in India began with a group of 12 scientists in BARC who were inspired by a Times of India report! Following some work, research came to a standstill in the 1990s and then resumed only in 2008.

There is skepticism among the scientific community about the working of cold fusion. This mostly comes out of the non-repeatability of the original experiment conducted in 1989 by Martin Fleischmann of the University of Southampton and Stanley Pons of the University of Utah. Following the results which “did not tally with textbook nuclear physics” in the words of Srinivasan, efforts were made to explain the single positive result. Some even went to the extent of saying that the above was not a nuclear fusion reaction at all! Others have even suggested calorimeter errors.

There have been recent demonstrations of working of cold fusion, some as recently as January 14, 2011.

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