Alternative Energy, Energy Independence and Global Warming Reduction

trying to keep it simple

We can go on enjoying an undiminished standard of living, but not if we continue to treat energy as if it were nearly free. Certain unrenewable fuels are indispensible for certain purposes, yet we waste them. Here is a plan to get our priorities straight.

Extracting the H2 from H2O:

Has An MIT Scientist Found the Secret Life of Plants?

Covering 93,000,000 miles in eight minutes, the light sent to us by the sun delivers to our planet 170,000 trillion watts of energy. A single minute of that torrent is enough to provide all our energy needs of an entire year.
     The problem has been one of converting sunlight into a practical form of energy. The simplest plant has the genius to turn sunlight into energy-rich molecules that power its growth. Humans look on with embarrassment, baffled by how they do it.
     We instead have learned how to turn sunlight into electricity. In the rush to find substitutes for fossil fuels, we know that solar energy holds great promise, but we’ve also been made aware of its limitations: the sun doesn’t always shine, and storing that electricity in batteries for delivery to where and when it is needed is a technology that is costly and stubbornly hard to improve. For example, a kilo of the most advanced batteries stores about 300 watt-hours of energy, whereas the same weight in gasoline is a store of 13,000 watt-hours.
     So when an MIT scientist announced that he had discovered a way to produce not electricity but hydrogen from sunlight, it meant unlocking from water a fuel that can readily be stored and which by weight packs three times the punch of gasoline. The scientist, Daniel Nocera, had hit upon a method that mimics the first and most difficult stage of photosynthesis, which uses sunlight to break down water into its components of hydrogen and oxygen. Nevertheless, his claim was met with skepticism, especially because he was brash enough to exclaim, "With this discovery, I totally change the dialogue; all of the old arguments go out the window."
     Haven’t we seen that movie before? One thinks of cold fusion, supposedly discovered by two University of Utah scientists twenty years ago, but ridiculed when it could not be replicated — the acid test for boasts of scientific claims. But hidebound scientists have often scoffed at discoveries that later proved to be breakthroughs, so attention must be paid to Nocera’s achievement.
     Plants use chlorophyll, the green colored matter of leaves and plants that absorbs sunshine and is key to the production of carbohydrates by photosynthesis. There is also a bluish-black form of chlorophyll, and Nocera, trying different substances as a catalyst, hit upon cobalt as a parallel. There’s more science than that to his process, of course, but suffice to say that his method occurs at room temperature and without abrasive chemicals — the same gentle conditions in which plants perform. Chemists have fractioned water, but separating its atoms by chemical methods requires high temperatures or expensive catalysts such as platinum.
     Sunlight can never be relied upon to produce a significant share of the electricity to power our factories and homes unless its energy can be stored inexpensively so as to provide a consistent supply. Instead, because it is intermittent, there will always need to be back-up natural gas- or coal-burning power plants to take over when the clouds move in — a high cost redundancy that solves little. A low cost means of using sunlight to split water into high-energy hydrogen instead of electricity would make all the difference. Hydrogen is a gas that can be stored and transported to where it is needed for burning in an internal-combustion motor or in a fuel cell. Hydrogen-powered autos, for example, use fuel cells in which hydrogen is recombined with oxygen to create as its by-product not problematic CO2 but harmless water dripping from the tailpipe.
     One of the problems of a hydrogen powered future is that it takes too much fossil fuel energy to make the hydrogen. A process such as Nocera’s that uses the sun’s energy instead would be transformative.
     Saying that is to cut corners, because Nocera’s findings are not there yet. Indeed, the doubters point out that Nocera’s method is slow, weak and won’t “scale”, by which is meant that producing the effect in a lab is one thing; producing the massive quantities needed to replace power plants is quite another. But it could lead to techniques that combine the catalysts that he has found with sun-absorbing dye molecules that together mimic the way the leaves of a plant directly split water into hydrogen and oxygen.
     Drawbacks of this discovery notwithstanding, our sun keeps pounding us with all the energy we will ever need. Every path to learning what humble plants have always known but we do not must be followed.
            - Stephen Wilson

Micropower As Alternative Fuel:

Bringing the Power Plant Closer to Home

When we turn on the lights or the HVAC system at home, we think of that as "consuming energy". In fact, we are using energy services provided by electrical power delivered to where we live. If we care about how efficiently we utilize those services, we might for example replace our light bulbs with ones that provide the same light for 75% fewer watts. And we might adjust the thermostat when we leave for a while.
     Those are commendable steps aimed at consuming less energy at home in our daily lives, and contributing both to energy security and mitigation of climate change.
     But, much more powerful approaches to efficiency, which are much less well recognized, will be available to us in the reasonably near future. One, sometimes called "micropower", or "distributed resources", refers to generating electrical power near where it is needed rather than producing it in one place and transporting it to another where it is used. Technologies now in various stages of development will permit homeowners and businesses to generate their own electricity on quite satisfactory terms. How can that be an attractive idea?

CURRENT SYSTEM WEAKNESSES

Most electricity in the U.S. is generated by large and ugly, pulverized coal fired electrical generating plants, usually remote from the locations they serve. Long distance connection is by high voltage transmission lines. Then a complex but imperfect grid system allows electric utilities to buy and sell power among themselves to achieve some degree of load-leveling.
     Most people do not realize that the efficiencies of that system are abysmally low. For every 100 BTU's of energy contained in the coal, only about 10% of it actually gets to the meter of the house you live in. So the energy savings you are so nobly pursuing are impacting only about 10% of the energy that is being consumed to deliver that electricity to where you live! Think how much effect could be achieved if most of the waste in remote generation and transmission could be eliminated.
     Large scale electrical generation with long-distance transmission was devised at a time when supplies of oil, gas and coal seemed to be almost limitless, and when we believed that using them up as though they were renewable was both economically and environmentally responsible. Now that we can see more clearly that these beliefs are unsound, a new way of locally generating electricity for domestic and business use is due for consideration.

ILLUSTRATION OF AN ALTERNATIVE

Approaches to generating local electrical power are numerous and they involve various combinations of wind, solar, well-water heat pumps, batteries and fuel cells. A comprehensive analysis of these alternatives is a task too large for this space. But, by way of illustration, here is one system, developed by a US company, that will be produced and sold in the foreseeable future. Working prototypes exist, and the necessary financial and human resources are now being assembled. Mentioning it here does not imply endorsement; instead it is presented as one illustration of the innovation and creativity now being applied to reducing fossil fuel use and greenhouse gas emissions.
     The system comprises three elements:

1) An Ammonia Cracker, which readily converts ammonia (NH3) to hydrogen for use in a fuel cell. Ammonia is the second largest chemical produced in the world with 140 million tons produced each year. It is a good way to transport hydrogen from one place to another.
2) An Alkaline Fuel Cell, which operates at low temperatures, and which produces more voltage per cell and exhibits higher efficiencies than the other four types of fuel cells. In volume production, it can be sold for about $200 per kilowatt. So, a 20-kilowatt system for a normal house could cost $4,000.
3) Lead Cobalt Batteries that are made in a new way and weigh 80% less than traditional lead batteries. They are very long-lived, and a typical home installation would cost about $3,500.

For less than $10,000, a homeowner could be independently producing on-site power at very low running cost. At least as importantly, no fossil fuel is consumed and the CO2 released to the atmosphere is correspondingly zero. The same company has another version of the same three technologies that has been used successfully to drive cars. One drove across the country and back using this means of power generation. So, it may not be quite ready for prime time, but it is not pie-in-the-sky.
     One reason the concept of local power generation is so exciting is that, theoretically, if every need for energy services from electricity were supplied by locally generated power, over half the power currently produced would no longer be needed, and the rest would be non-polluting. Obviously, this level of conversion is unattainable in the short term, but it demonstrates a powerful tool for making progress.
     The importance of our implementing these technologies may attract changes in public policy, including tax credits, which would be a reasonable way to encourage implementation of these systems when they are widely available.      - Douglas Ayer

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Energy's 3rd Rail:

Where Does Nuclear Fit Into the Energy Future?

At PlanetWatch, we find it uniquely challenging to form recommendations regarding the role of nuclear power in future energy plans for Earth.
     First, the capital required to build a nuclear facility is very high. Second, no one wants a plant near where they live owing to fears, not completely unfounded, that another Three Mile Island or Chernobyl could ensue. Third, there are unresolved questions of how suitably to dispose of waste material from these plants. Finally, and perhaps most important, there is some risk that more nuclear facilities will accelerate the proliferation of nuclear technology, and eventually weapons, into more hands, including some that are irresponsible and hostile to the West.
     Nevertheless, we feel obliged to develop at least provisional stands on these issues, lest we be accused of hiding our heads in the sand. Accordingly, we here offer a macro-view of where we suspect nuclear technology should fit into our energy futures, with lots of room for adjustment as other developments unfold.
CAN NUCLEAR ENERGY EXPANSION BE AVOIDED?      If we accept that greenhouse gas emissions must be cut about 80% to have a decent chance of heading off catastrophic climate change (to say nothing of reducing energy dependence), then we must make massive progress in curtailing fossil fuel consumption in all the major ways it can be accomplished. The big three consumers of fossil fuels, by far, are transportation (petroleum products), buildings, both commercial and residential, and electricity generation (largely pulverized coal).
     Multiple initiatives are in various stages of run cars, trucks, buses and planes. Some of these programs are virtually certain to succeed, but no one knows which or when. The recently developing impact on food prices of using corn to make ethanol underscores the uncertainty that attends any changes we try to make in what we burn for fuel. Meanwhile, efficiency standards are rising at various rates so that the vehicles we use will consume much less of either renewables or fossil fuels per mile. Again, however, the pace of progress is unpredictable. One clear conclusion is that electricity is likely to play a vital role in various ways: a) it works well for trains, b) it can be used to make hydrogen, one auto fuel alternative, and c) it works to power plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEV's), another high potential alternative. So far, airplanes still require liquid fuel, and ships do not run well on electricity, unless it is generated on board. But for the rest of transportation, plenty of non-polluting electricity will remain critically important.
Buildings      Lighting, heating, cooling and operating buildings consumes even more energy than transportation, mainly in the form of natural gas, or heating oil, plus electricity. Little attention has been paid until recently to making efficient use of these energy sources because not only were they "cheap", but also the capital costs to make better use of them was high, and those who would pay for such improvements were different from those paying operating costs, so the overall system was not optimized. In addition to the benefits expected from harvesting efficiency gains, we now realize that fossil fuels still in direct use will need gradually to be replaced by cleaner energy, namely electricity, and so that source is likely to grow in relative importance. Again, the conclusion is inescapable that access to growing amounts of clean electricity will continue to be vital.
Generating Electricity      Ironically, we in the United States generate electricity in an inexpensive and extremely environmentally irresponsible way. We use mainly pulverized coal, of which we have an abundance. But the CO2 emissions from the process are uniquely large, and unsustainable if we are to bring our GHG emissions down. Encouraging progress is taking place in developing clean electricity from wind, solar, waves and geothermal, but even the most optimistic forecasts call for these being, relatively speaking, drops in the bucket. Other programs to continue using coal and to "capture and sequester" the CO2 are underway. Still others intend reusing the CO2 (which fuels photosynthesis) to grow algae that will in turn become fuel for the power plants. These efforts are both commendable and unpredictable. But we at PlanetWatch are not optimistic that CO2 capture and sequestration is going to prove to be attractive at scale, and the algae project is at an even earlier stage.
LIKELY CONSEQUENCES      The case for electricity remaining a vital way to deliver energy where and when it is needed seems inescapable. Also, new clean alternative ways to produce it are either insufficient in volume or too fraught with uncertainty. Therefore we are very likely to need to resume adding to the only currently available proven non-CO2-emitting large source of electricity known to man.....namely nuclear power plants.
     The French derive the majority of their electricity from plants built by the government that have proven remarkably safe and reliable. Every 40 or 50 miles in France there sits a medium-sized nuclear power plant and the system is widely accepted.
     We all would prefer to avoid adding to our inventory of nuclear power plants, given the risks associated with waste disposal and weapons proliferation. And, if the promise offered by non-nuclear, non-CO2-emitting sources advances quickly, we may not need to add very much. But the risk of not having adequate electricity available when needed, and the attendant potential for global disruption, is too great to take.
     So, PlanetWatch believes that the US should find a way to proceed with the construction of a significant number of new nuclear power plants, using the latest technology, as an insurance policy against the rest of the efforts to improve energy security falling short of their goals.
      - Douglas Ayer

In Bed With the Bugs:

Why Termites Could Teach Us a Thing or Two

Corn was a poor choice as a feedstock for a gasoline substitute. In the most  favorable studies, corn derived ethanol yields only 1.3 times the energy it takes to produce it, and diverting it from the food chain has caused higher prices that have even led to some rioting in Mexico.
     The grail has been to make ethanol from cellulosic plant life — that is, waste such as wood chips, or grasses such as miscanthus and switchgrass. They grow rapidly, need no fertilizer, yield energy six to seven times that of corn, and release only 15% of the CO2 of gasoline.
     But nothing’s easy. Whereas corn readily yields its sugar for micro-organisms to ferment into ethanol, cellulosic plants are grudging. Their stalks are wrapped in lignin, to make them sturdy, and the cellulose within is a large, structural molecule that puts up a fight before releasing its sugar. Which explains our slow progress in getting beyond corn ethanol: our annual production of cellulosic ethanol is less than 1% of a single day’s gasoline consumption.
Put a Bug in Your Tank      That’s where termites come in. Given the rough patch we’ve hit trying to dissect cellulose, we are suddenly in awe of the termite’s ability to unlock the sugars in something so unpromising as wood and convert them to nutrients. How on earth do they do it? Could mankind learn the same tricks and set termites to work making fuel?
     Termites are just one of nature’s workers that scientists at entrepreneurial companies are exploring for making fuel — and even plastic. A California company named LS9 reworks the DNA of organisms such as yeast and non-pathogenic variants of E coli to produce — and we’re not kidding — crude oil. To understand how this could be possible, focus on “fossil” in “fossil fuel”, that is, substances made of ancient living matter. Oil and gas are hydrocarbons, molecular chains of hydrogen and carbon that are the building blocks of all life, and therefore not alien even to single-cell organisms a billionth the size of an ant. LS9 makes the point that crude oil “is only a few molecular stages removed from the fatty acids normally excreted by yeast or E coli during fermentation”. Tweak their DNA and out comes a substance nearly ready for your gas tank. That would eliminate the final, energy-intensive distillation step required for corn ethanol.
     Amyris is another California company that is using micro-organisms such as yeast and bacteria to convert the sugars in biomass into an ethanol to compete with petroleum-based diesel. The DNA sequencing of these life forms now makes it possible, says this company, to modify them so as to make some 50,000 variants of molecules used in energy, pharmaceutical, and chemical applications.
     Wherever you look in the DNA world, you will find J. Craig Venter, whose institute in Maryland announced early in 2008 that it had replaced the entire genetic code of a harmful but otherwise useful bacterium with the code of a different but benign relative. Like the others, the goal of his company, Synthetic Genomics, is to strap these miniscule living factories in harness and put them to work. “Obviously, if we made an organism that produced fuel, that could be the first billion or trillion-dollar organism,” he told Newsweek.

Oil to Replace Oil? What’s the Point?

     But what gain is there in reducing CO2 emissions if oil or its derivatives is the end product of these breakthroughs? Considerable gain is the answer. When oil, gas and coal are extracted, they bring to the surface for burning carbon dioxide deeply sequestered under Earth’s mantle, adding a new burden of CO2 into the atmosphere. In contrast, all the biomass technologies are at least carbon neutral: they release back into the air only the CO2 that they have drawn from it during their plants’ growth. In the case of wood chips, wheat straw and other agricultural waste, the CO2 would have been released anyway, once they decompose.
     Any plant matter — any material containing hydrogen, carbon and oxygen — will serve as raw material for microbial hordes to make molecules of choice, so long as it can be broken down into the sugars needed for fermentation into fuel. That means that construction debris, forest and lawn trimmings, wood chips, wheat straw and many other types of agricultural waste are all candidates for rescuing us from our oil addiction.

The road not taken
     "The fuel of the future is going to come from sumac, like that fruit out by the road, or from apples, weeds, sawdust — almost anything. There is fuel in every bit of vegetable matter that can be fermented. There's enough alcohol in one year's yield of an acre of potatoes to drive the machinery necessary to cultivate the fields for a hundred years." — Henry Ford, 1925

     Plastics, too, have hydrogen and carbon as their base (8% of global oil production goes into plastics), which means they are another material that can be excreted by masses of microbial conscripts retrained to do mankind’s bidding. From a standing start in 2006, DuPont is already selling $100 million of “bioplastics” a year, principally under a brand name, Sonora. Multinational giant Cargill, based in Minnesota and known mostly for grain, is also in the market, shipping 140,000 metric tons of a bioplastic trade-named Ingeo for use in such products as food containers. A host of smaller companies around the world have entered this market. Best of breed may be an outfit named Metabolix in Cambridge, Massachusetts, which has hundreds of patents for its process of using bugs to cook up bioplastics in its vats, but with the added distinction that its brand, Mirel, degrades to “nice brown dirt” after about 180 days, said a tester for the state of California.

From Scourge to Savior?

     So what about those termites? Scientists have been trying to learn how they succeed so spectacularly in tearing down wood and coaxing out its sugars, CO2, hydrogen and methane. It’s part of a $375 million program at the U.S. Department of Energy research centers that funds seven government labs, 18 universities, and a few private companies. They are laboring under a legislative mandate that the country use 36 billion gallons of biofuels a year by 2022, with cellulosic ethanol use to exceed corn ethanol by then. Studying how tiny creatures are able to break down cellulose and extract its sugars has to be a humbling pursuit, but termites — a critter that instills terror in homeowners — have been getting a lot of respect from scientists lately.
     A termite has a third gut. Researchers were taken aback to discover that, while no bigger than a rice grain, it is filled with a slurry containing 300 different microbes — many found nowhere else on earth — as well as 500 different genes, enzymes and catalysts — a bewildering assemblage all brought together by nature for the task of deconstructing wood. Faced with this array, scientists are having trouble determining just which members of this teeming population are key to getting the job done. They may find that nature is just too complicated for mere humans to grasp. Even if nature gives up its secrets, there may be no way to ramp up a termite’s methods to industrial scale. But it will be frustrating to abandon the bug because, in addition to its superiority over lesser woodcutters, termites miraculously produce little methane as they munch. In contrast, the bacteria in the gut of cows lose 20% of the energy in the grass the cow just ate to methane, a greenhouse gas that traps 20 times the heat of CO2.
     Maybe the next candidate is not a bug but a fungus discovered by Gary Stobel, a professor of plant pathology from Montana State University. He was poking about in Patagonia when he eyed a red fungus that had a gaseous smell. It proved to be a mix of hydrocarbons that the fungus gives off as it consumes cellulose. He was so astonished that “every hair on my arms stood on end”. Unlike termites and other bugs that unlock the sugars in cellulose which then need to be fermented into fuel, this fungus is a one stop factory, taking cellulose all the way to many of the same hydrocarbons found in diesel fuel.

All for Naught?

     But the question is now what happens, with gasoline dropping once again below $2 a gallon — $1.67 at year end. The economics of invention cannot compete with mature industry, and in these United States money rules. We veer between “shock and trance”, said our new president. Just as we were seduced by the cheap gas of the 80’s that caused us to forget the lines at the pump from OPEC’s embargo in the 70s’, will we, after the shock of $4.00 a gallon gasoline just this past summer, fall again into our usual amnesiac trance, all lessons again forgotten, all bad habits resumed? Unless the leadership of this country decides that gas should never be below $4.00 a gallon — it’s a national security matter that transcends the economic woes of the moment, and a planetary matter that transcends mankind — the U.S. will continue to slide to and fro on an oil slick, and all the innovative companies you have just read about will be driven out of business.
            - Stephen Wilson

Power As Clean As Water:

Generators Powered by Wave and Current Are Sinking In Worldwide

A  2.25 megawatt wave-powered generator will be put to sea and begin producing power by wave action this summer. The generator, built by Pelamis Wave Power of Edinburgh, Scotland will be installed off the coast of Portugal. The power from the generator will be sent by undersea cable to the coastal town of Agucadoura where it will be introduced to the grid. More of these wave-powered generators will be installed in the same area over the next year. The British government-financed Carbon Trust estimates the UK could generate as much as 20% of its electricity demand by wave power alone.
     New Zealand, which now gets 60% of its electrical power from renewable sources, is installing 200 tidal powered turbines anchored to the bottom of the seafloor across the mouth of the Kiapara Harbor near Auckland. These turbines will generate 200MW for Auckland.
     Free Flow Power Corp is interested in installing their underwater turbine generator in major rivers in the USA and has filed a petition with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for approval to use these water-powered turbines in 100 sites.
     In Florida there is talk of installing similar water powered turbines in the Gulf Stream just off the Florida East coast. The potential there is over 200 MW.
           - Herb Whittall

Macro Progress May Lie in Micro/Nano Solutions

As awareness of the energy/climate crisis spreads, more people are starting to understand that we in the United States have approached our consumption of energy in remarkably mindless ways. Our use of gas-guzzling personal vehicles is perhaps the most obvious example. Another less apparent one is how we treat electricity.
     The bulk of our electricity is generated at large plants powered by natural gas or coal. Since few wish to live near them, they are often located in remote places, out of public view, requiring their electric power to be transmitted considerable distances.

CONSTRUCTION COST VERSUS OPERATING COST AND EFFICIENCY

Historically, fuel was cheap, causing electricity to be cheap. These conditions led to building generating plants with efficiency being secondary to capital cost. It also caused consumers to treat electricity almost the way we once treated water: cheap and abundant. There was little if any attention paid to the efficiency of electrical devices, from light bulbs to water heaters. Equally, few worried about turning off lights or air conditioners, for example, when they were not needed.
     Now that fuel is no longer cheap, and that which is cheap (coal) causes very serious climate damage, it is instructive to review how poorly we are set up for being more efficient, and perhaps heartening to imagine how much room there is for improvement.
     As a rule of thumb, we can assume that roughly half the energy content in hydrocarbon fuels consumed in a typical power generating plant ends up as high voltage electricity, ready for transmission. If carried a long distance, almost half the power is lost in transmission. Equally, at the final destination (a house or a commercial building) where the electricity is converted into "useful services", roughly another half of the electricity is wasted in either inefficient devices, poor insulation or simple human inattention.
     The simplest arithmetic applied to this situation indicates that one eighth of the energy in the original fuel results in useful services. That means about 88% of it is lost in generating unwanted heat, an unbelievably rich vein of potential savings, if we address the root causes of the waste.

MICRO/NANO-SOLUTIONS OFFER HOPE

Two developments, neither close to wide-spread adoption, offer "game changing" potential when and if they are proven and deployed. One is "nano solar", the other "micro nuclear". Both offer the potential of more efficient power generation, close to where it is used, which together with better management of electrical consumption on the part of the consumer, could recover half or more of the losses from each stage of the arrangement described above. Again, simple arithmetic shows that recovering half of what was wasted at each stage in the first example brings about an improvement in system-wide efficiency from 12% to 42%...3.5 times the overall efficiency. Most importantly, this waste recovery translates into reducing the need for power to deliver the same level of energy services by 70% . Note that still more savings are possible if consumers require less in energy services, such as cooling to 74 instead of 68 degrees.

NANOSOLAR

One company, called Nanosolar, Inc seems to be leading it competitors in producing solar cells by printing special foils with ink made from CIGS (Copper Indium Gallium Selenide). They have raised over $100 million from venture sources (including the founders of Google) and are delivering finished product from two plants, one near Berlin and the other in San Jose. Their technology is too complex to dwell on in detail here, but the potential impact of it is clear. They are currently building a low-cost solar electric utility plant producing 1 megawatt (enough for 400 normal dwellings) and should be able to reproduce it in almost any location where the sun shines.
     Net effect? Nanotechnology is making it possible to manufacture very large quantities of low cost solar panels that in turn can deliver utility power generation close to the point of use, with essentially no consumption of carbon fuels. That will be real progress.

MICRO NUCLEAR

Toshiba reports the development of a new class of small nuclear reactors designed to power apartment buildings or even city blocks. Occupying only 20 feet by 6 feet of ground space, the units offer a way for small remote communities, small businesses or even a group of neighbors to band together, bypass the local power company, and take control of their energy needs, according to the company.
     Toshiba says that the 200 kilowatt reactor is engineered to be fail-safe, totally automatic and will not overheat. Unlike traditional nuclear reactors the new micro reactor uses no control rods to initiate the reaction. The new revolutionary technology instead uses reservoirs of liquid lithium-6, an isotope that is effective at absorbing neutrons. The reservoirs are connected to a vertical tube that fits into the reactor core. Toshiba maintains that the process is self-sustaining and can last for up to 40 years, producing electricity for only 5 cents a kilowatt hour, about half the cost of grid energy.
     The company expects to install the first reactor in Japan this year and to begin marketing the new system in Europe and America in 2009.
     We cannot say whether this technology will stand the test of time. But we are comfortable that something similar in performance will result from countless research projects all over the world. Again, if implemented, this would eliminate substantial amounts of carbon fuel consumption and the consequent climate damage.
           - Douglas Ayer