Monday, February 06, 2006

Technology and politics

A couple of years ago, a very interesting experimental technology surfaced in the media. It was the time to decide where to build the first experimental fusion reactor. Fusion reactor is a nuclear reactor where, instead of breaking heavy elements into lighter ones, energy is produced by combining light elements into heavier ones, in a process similar to that occurring in the stars.

The advantages of this method are huge. Many times safer, almost or totally waste free (depends on the process), much more efficient and creates much more energy. The drawback is that there are no materials strong enough to contain process because the extreme heat, therefore the only way to do it is by magnetic field. Containing hot plasma in a magnetic field is a very serious engineering challenge. when it is solved humanity will gain a vast source of cheap and safe energy.

Now back to politics. This technology has disappeared from the public eye as fast as it has appeared. From what I have heard and read, the project was stalled because political reasons. The official excuse was, that participant countries couldn't agree on the construction location of the first experimental reactor, France or Japan, to be exact. I believe that there were other reasons beside that one. One major reason, that crosses my mind, is oil. Given the fact that two thirds of all oil consumed, is used in electrical power plants, when this technology becomes available, oil consumption will drop in half at least. Oil prices will plummet, just at the rumor of this technology getting near completion to a 20$ mark, or even less. Imagine the consequences. Many economies worldwide will suffer, others will collapse. Starting with all the countries who are oil export dependant, where oil export constitutes over 50% of the national income. All the Arab world will go bankrupt.

I want to see Iran and Syria invest in high cost nuclear weapons or sponsor terror organisations worldwide without the billions of oil dollars.

Have read some material on the subject. The location for the first reactor is chosen, near a small town named Cadarache in France. By all looks, it seems that, finally, the wheels are sprung into action. More details about the project are available here, and about fusion reactor here.

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