National Commentary

The Peak Oil Crisis: The Mother of All Black Swans

Even Saudi Arabia’s oil minister is starting to talk about the advent of a “black swan.” These are defined as completely unexpected developments which cause lots of unexpected change. I believe we are going to be seeing a major black swan event in the not too distant future.

It should be clear to everyone that the earth’s climate is becoming so laden with carbon emissions that civilization as we know it on this planet is unlikely to make it through the next few centuries. Fortunately, however, the combustion of carbon-based fuels will be slowly on its way down as most of the oil that is left is becoming too costly to extract, and in the case of coal, is killing too many people from unhealthy air. Even the Chinese seem to have gotten the message and are cutting back on coal burning as fast as they can without collapsing their economy and getting the government overthrown. However, running out of cheap oil, killing ourselves off from dirty air, or devastating climate change induced weather events are not black swans as these developments are already well anticipated. What is desperately needed is a way for the world to stop burning carbon as quickly as possible without creating economic turmoil. There just may be an answer.

Coming down the road are a pair of technologies that will produce nearly unlimited amounts of cheap, pollution-free energy, and have the potential to change life-as-we-know-it.

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I am talking about the twin technologies of cold fusion and hydrinos, each of which, when widely deployed, will constitute a revolution in the history of mankind fully equivalent to the discovery of fire, the wheel, the agricultural revolution, or the industrial revolution. Both of these technologies are based on turning the hydrogen found in water into virtually unlimited amounts of energy at very low cost and without any harmful pollution. Recent developments suggest that either or both of these technologies could become available for commercial applications in the next few years. In recent years, new technologies such as cell phones have spread across the globe in a few decades.

So where are these technologies and when can we expect to hear and read about them in the mainstream media, especially if they are getting close to becoming commercial products? The answer to this is simple. Both these technologies are based on science that is beyond that generally accepted by scientific community, especially those who have never looked into the results of the experiments. While those few scientists who have tested and are familiar with the details of these technologies tell us that they are for real, the bulk are waiting for irrefutable proof that they actually produce large amounts of cheap energy before they are willing to accept that our knowledge of nature may not be as complete as we like to think and that some scientific theories may be wrong.

The hydrino theory holds that there exists in nature a stable, compact form of hydrogen which does not absorb or emit light, making it very hard to detect. Under the proper conditions, normal hydrogen atoms such as those found in water can be transformed into hydrinos accompanied by a massive release of energy. This theory is the brainchild of one man, Randall Mills of BlackLight Power in New Jersey, who has been working on the development of the theory and a practical way to release energy for nearly 30 years. The reason the theory has received little attention is that it appears to violate fundamental principles of atomic science which would have to be rethought if it fact there is such a thing as a hydrino.

Last summer Mills reported in a fascinating video on his website, blacklightpower.com, that he has recently made significant breakthroughs in developing the technology. Last month he reported that all of the subsystems of his prototype “SunCell” now are working and that the first prototype of a commercial device is now being integrated. He also says that a business relationship for distribution of commercial products is being established. If the prototype devices work as advertised and can be tested by independent laboratories, the arguments over the existence of a hydrino should end fairly quickly unless some other explanation can be found. If the subsystems work as claimed, I would be surprised if we did not see the first prototype in operation before the end of the year.

The second of our black swan technologies is our old friend “cold fusion,” which now goes by several other names, largely to assuage the feelings of those scientists who claim there can be no such thing as cold fusion. There now is no question that the nuclear reactions are for real and that commercial quantities of heat can be produced under proper conditions by heating hydrogen in the presence of nickel and other elements. As far as we know, the Italian entrepreneur Andrea Rossi still seems to be the furthest ahead in the race to build and market commercial-scale devices although numerous people around the world are producing heat from laboratory scale devices.

Unlike Mill’s hydrino device, cold fusion is far more difficult to control and many experiments are producing so much heat that they melt down their test apparatuses. Only Rossi, who is now working from a US company, Industrial Heat, down in North Carolina, says he has developed the techniques to keep a commercially viable heat generating device under control. For several months now he has had a commercial sized 1-megawatt prototype device, which has been installed in a factory at an unrevealed location in the U.S., undergoing a year’s acceptance test. If this test is successful, and we won’t know until early next year, Industrial Heat will at some point likely begin publicizing and marketing commercial cold fusion devices.

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If either of these endeavors meets their developers’ expectations, we should be seeing the biggest black swan in centuries land in our midst fairly soon.

 


Tom Whipple is a retired government analyst and has been following the peak oil issue for several years.

Comments

comments

26 Comments

  1. novel_compound

    Mr. Whipple, you assert that China is “cutting back on coal burning as fast as they can”.

    But according to ClimateCentral.org, China will add, on average, one new 600-megawatt coal-fired plant every 10 days, for the next 10 years.

    The Department of Energy should mount a Manhattan Project-level of effort to find new sources of energy, leaving no stone unturned, including hydrinos and E-Cats.

    • Yes. They will continue expanding a bit. But they will be installing clean energy at a rate of every current clean energy biz in the USA right now to their country every year.

      That mass manufacturing drives down prices and makes clean energy cheaper for all.

    • There are predictions that they will have to cut back. Not because their sky is thick with smog, but because they will have hit Peak China Coal. And that time is right around now – that is, they could be entering terminal decline in their coal production.

  2. Thanks for the great reporting. While Mills’ subcomponents may all be working after a fashion, integration is the key. A component may be able to perform its function in isolation. However, how each component operates in an environment subjected to GW/liter power densities and the attendant waste heat dissipation issues, which can only be done at integration time, is something else entirely. Containing the nanopower metallic slurry and preventing it from fouling the ignition, photovoltaic and regeneration assemblies will also be significant challenges. I suspect the design may need to go through more revisions, perhaps many, before we get a working product. Having a demonstration prototype this year seems highly optimistic in my view. I’m hopeful, but realistic.

  3. jameswmakepeace

    Don’t hold your breath for “cold fusion” to solve the looming energy crisis… in physics (and nature) there is no such thing as a “free lunch”.
    The only way to fix the world’s horribly real energy problem is to invest the money in developing the highly promising laser fusion option (in which Western nations are currently throwing away a significant lead) and to develop a sensible mix of renewables, gradually scaling down nuclear fission as the cleaner and long-term more dependable technologies take on the load.
    On the back of this strategy we MUST cut our dependency upon fossil fuels by every possible means and with all possible speed.
    This is a choice we have to make, otherwise we (and particularly our children) really WILL live to regret it !
    Our politicians lack the wit, the wisdom, the courage and the honesty to face this decision… It will only be done when the electorate force their hand… which, as things are going, will almost certainly be too late.

    • Don’t know about cold fusion, but Mills’ hydrino theory isn’t a “free lunch”. He’s discovered the theory and process that extracts energy from hydrogen by converting it to dark matter. Yes, I know you’re thinking ” crackpot”. I did too when I happened across his ideas ten years ago. However, if you take the time to actually study his theory, it’s pretty clear he’s onto something. It’s indisputable that his equations are orders of magnitude more accurate than QM and the Standard Model.

    • Mark Underwood

      Is laser fusion really that promising from a practical energy gain perspective? Also it is still ‘hot’ fusion, and contrary to popular belief this type of conventional fusion still emits nasty energies and particles.

      • Laser fusion has “promise” but it is not likely to be a power plant anytime soon , so LENR CF advocates are right about that. I’m pretty sure Mills’ theories are garbage along with his hardware.The DOE is always trying to dole out money for CF but no one ever asks for it , which should let you know they don’t have anything useful. Advanced nuclear is the best way forward and only the Chinese are proceeding correctly. The US is very poorly led as we have the best technology but have decided to give it to the Chinese for $5 million which is one days worth of spending. The US has the worst leader.

        • taser_this

          The DOE is not always trying to dole out money for Cold Fusion research. They do not even entertain the proposals. If they did, we could be much further along.

    • You don’t know what you are talking about. If “there is no such things as a free lunch”, then there is no such thing as nuclear power plants.

      The evidence is clear as a bell. It is up to you to disprove it or accept it.

      • If you mean “free lunch” is a good thing and I know you do, then you are right that fission is the best way forward. It isn’t a free lunch going by understood physics,as nothing is understood better than the splitting apart of heavy elements. While cold fusion is more a list of things they wish were true or more correctly things that someone who believes in CF and will hands his money over with no questions will believe. All the rest of science wishes is that they boil one cup of water but they can’t so they don’t. Its a money making venture that works quite well for Rossi and Mills. Lots of money no energy.

    • I stopped reading at “free lunch”. You do not understand what you are talking about.

  4. First of all, the assumption that man has had any significant effect on mid-level atmospheric temperature levels is unproven, and the measurable facts say it has not happened. Land use change has made our cities and towns hotter, not atmospheric CO2 levels. Google *Moderating Climate Change Hysteria* for the facts, not the hype.

    Secondly, Low Energy Nuclear Reaction (LENR) and highly simplified, compact, hot fusion reactor technology holds great promise. Randal Mills, however, has a terrible track record of making promises he cannot keep, and his hydrino theory is interesting, but unproven.

    We should reduce CO2 emissions using only beneficial methods that do not hurt the economy or the environment. Biofuels, windmills, and solar schemes harm the Earth and innocent people for no good reason, and they do not reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The world has many proven threats. Greenhouse gas emissions are not a proven major threat, but may present a long term problem. Caution, thoughtfulness, and calm are needed, not hysterical and destructive policies like carbon taxes and counterproductive energy schemes that don’t work in the real world, only in the world of marijuana induced green fantasies.

    • I’d argue climate science is adequate and naysaying misinformation has been funded by FF threatened sources as some writers claim and have made a good case for.

      Mills and Rossi are now well funded vs before underfunded.

      Claiming lack of progress as significant would rule out hot fusion still 20 years out now 60 years and counting yet sucking up most of the government research budget.

      The hot fusion funding hog is very strange given no results and no hot fusion economic success potential against wind, solar, storage, efficient use, and LENR or hydrinos black swans each of which are making significant research, engineering, economics, and commercialization advances.

      • Lockheed Martin has a new hot fusion reactor design that is very compact and low in cost because it uses microwaves, not costly lasers. Wind and solar are government welfare for a parasitic industry that has cost billions of dollars, killed huge numbers of birds, and has been a failure all over the world at producing reasonably affordable and reliable electricity. If we end the mandates and subsidies, wind and solar will die off as an industry, which they should. The church of Climate Change is a religion, not science. When you dispense with the scientific method and pay scientists to find the results you want regardless of the facts, then that is political hucksterism. not science at all. Every month there is a new scandal of so-called scientists faking data, changing temperature readings, and making outlandish absurd statements not supported by the facts. The ice core records show that Earth temperatures do not track atmospheric CO2 levels, and they never have. You must kick religion, hysteria, and politics out of the laboratory if you want real science.

      • We know hot fusion works. Every day we see a hot fusion reactor. Cold fusion can’t even boil a cup of tea.

        • That used to be so. Now, thousands of LENR hot cups of tea can be made with many gallons of water boiled(see Parkhamov replications http://www.e-catworld.com/2015/03/27/parkhomov-again-replicates-rossi-effect-the-challenge-is-before-the-scientific-community/) and replications are occurring rapidly often monthly now.

          I’ll not do your research for you of thousands of reports by even big companies like Airbus(new patent).

          No one has made hot fusion yield sufficiently to make tea, and never will economically, IMO. Neither does anyone actually know how to make hot fusion work economically, other than as a very successful taxpayer rip off. I estimate a thousand times more taxpayer funds have gone to HF then private funds to LENR. LENR is vastly ahead of HF on a results to funding basis.

          PS I’m not a true believer in either, results count, so I’d like to drink a few cups of hot LENR tea also. We may need a tea party!

  5. Mr. Tom Whipple, thank you for having the cojones to write these kinds of stories.

  6. David Nygren
  7. Wow. Cold fusion and hydrinos. Damn. I’m sad Tom has lost it. No wonder our intelligence branches don’t provide accurate information.

  8. It looks like Mr. Whipple is well ahead of the new energy curve on this one. Even the ultra-conservative green movement is impressed with the official LENR research facility opening at Tohoku University in partnership with Clean Planet Inc.. http://revolution-green.com/lenr-clean-energy-research-lab-launched-in-japan/#disqus_thread

    They plan to use LENR to transmute hazardous radioactive waste into harmless stable elements. This is a breakthrough in the huge problem of nuclear waste storage.

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