Homepage Forums General Transition Issues Lets prepare for FF investment

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  • #762
    BreakableBreakable
    Keymaster

    Rezwan posted the list of materials, and services to be required. I will probably be unable to participate in this directly, but I could invest into company shares which would supply these materials/services. So lets speculate which companies are the most likely to build this stuff:
    http://www.facebook.com/topic.php?uid=205597630257&topic=24852

    Most jobs will be in supply and training chains and their supply and training chains. Here’s a rough bill of materials required to assemble 20 million FF generators per year:

    * 240 million high energy, high voltage, high speed pulsed power supply capacitors. These are the big blue boxes in the picture. These are bulky, heavy, expensive, and cantankerous to work with. The industry has plenty of room for expansion, especially for companies who can progressively minimize one or more of these problems.
    * 240 million HE/HV/HS capacitor switches. This sleepy little niche is getting away with reliability and price/performance problems that only the R&D world will put up with due to the current lack of competition.
    * 20 million PLC-based ignition systems and firmware. Look for controller firmware to be the opportunity, since so many companies already make PLCs for demanding mass production applications.
    * 160 million stamped steel HV delivery plates. Again, look for established tool and die shops to own this niche.
    * 20 million water jacket tanks and frames. This is a relatively low-precision part that can be manufactured by local fabricators and/or installers.

    Ample Opportunity Will Also Spring Up Supplying:

    * 20 million base plates. This part is a precision machined part built mainly using automated laser sintering and machine tools, which will soon become immense markets in their own right. The real winners in this niche will be the tool builders who can make these machines do ever more for ever less money and energy. The metals listed for these parts are currently preferred, but not absolutely required. Look for differing architectures to specify differing metals.
    * 20 million beryllium/copper anodes. This part can be built using laser sintering and/or traditional lost foam casting and machining, depending on the anode geometry. Expect geometries to become ever more complex, like apartment building rooflines over the last 30 years, as DPF numeric modeling software tools become more refined and memory prices fall.
    * 320 million beryllium/copper cathodes. See anode, but expect more price pressures due to much larger volume. There is an option for the cathode to be one continuous ring, however. This will allow cathode vendors to specialize by which company’s architecture they wish to align with.
    * 20 million stainless steel vacuum chambers about the size of a 5 gallon bucket. Pretty much the same as the electrodes, except using thick walled stainless steel.
    * 20 million vacuum pumps. Again, this is currently a sleepy little specialty market whose price/performance ratios are about to be turned on their ear.
    * 20 million turbo-molecular pumps. These glorified vacuum pumps remove the last few traces of atmosphere, hence contamination, before the fuel gas is injected. These manufacturers are also in for a brawl.
    * 20 million stainless steel inductive converter tubes. An extension of the vacuum chamber, these may or may not be integrated into the body design.
    * 20 million copper tubing coils with cooling and electrical connectors for the inductive recovery subsystem. This part is essentially a wave guide. Expect the cost of wave guides to fall and the market for their tool makers to explode.
    * 20 million heat exchangers and associated plumbing. Come and get it! This is one of the key areas for the ongoing size, weight, and price reductions that will define the more mature DPF marketplace.
    * Countless fasteners and sensors, etc.
    * 3.6 billion photovoltiac converters for generator applications. The X-ray to electricity converter is much simpler in theory than engineering or production. It’s known as the onion due to it’s thousands of thin foil and insulator layers. It’s expected to be made on leading edge and next-generation chip making machinery, so once again, this is a tool maker’s paradise. Cooling around 2MW of electrical power in a package this small and complex, along with the X-ray physics requirements, are going to keep the onion makers in challenges and profits until the DPF is replaced by an even better technology. Hard to believe, but that’s the way innovation has played out down the millennia.
    * 20 million cap bank controllers may or may not be integrated into the PLC controller package. Each capacitor is charged and monitored individually, but generally fired in unison. Since this type of capacitor is currently a very finicky and quirky device that needs a lot of pampering, any firmware/hardware that can improve cap bank reliability and delivered charge repeatability is going to clean up.
    * 20 million output power conditioning modules. These translate the very high voltage, high current pulses of only a few tens of billionths of seconds into commercially useful voltages, frequencies, and currents. Clever design may be able to justify the cost of the entire DPF generator module by eliminating the transmission transformer(s), especially in larger arrays.
    * 20 million transmission transformers for commercial power applications. As noted above, this will have to integrate the power conditioning module in order to earn it’s spot on the team.

    Expect “Because that’s the way its always been done” to become financially suicidal in the 21st century business environment, if it isn’t already.
    * Thousands, perhaps tens of thousands of skilled and semi-skilled workers. Also mentioned above, the tool makers for a number of industries will also need designers, engineers, technicians, assemblers, installers, service teams, and so on.
    * All of these people need to be trained, and many will need to be certified. Tech schools will flourish.

    #6017
    AvatarHermannH
    Member

    I believe the numbers got a bit inflated; actually quite a bit.

    According to this the total electricity consumption in 2005 was, on average, 297W per person on the planet.
    Multiply this by the world’s population and you have a total consumption of 1.9TW.

    One FF unit produces 5MW, so you need a total of 384,000 units to supply the current world demand.
    Of course demand is not constant but varies during the day/year so your peak capacity needs to be quite a bit higher, say about 3 times as high. This gives you 1.2 million units.
    Further assume that electricity consumption will likely quadruple in the next 10 years: 5 million units.
    So for the next ten years we need to build on average 500,000 units. And that rate would probably be about what is needed thereafter to keep up with rapidly increasing demand and replacement of old units.

    Now some parts (electrodes) may wear out rather quickly and may need to be replaced/refurbished several times a year. For these parts you could end up with 20 million per year.

    #6018
    AvatarAeronaut
    Member

    HermannH wrote: I believe the numbers got a bit inflated; actually quite a bit.

    According to this the total electricity consumption in 2005 was, on average, 297W per person on the planet.
    Multiply this by the world’s population and you have a total consumption of 1.9TW.

    One FF unit produces 5MW, so you need a total of 384,000 units to supply the current world demand.
    Of course demand is not constant but varies during the day/year so your peak capacity needs to be quite a bit higher, say about 3 times as high. This gives you 1.2 million units.
    Further assume that electricity consumption will likely quadruple in the next 10 years: 5 million units.
    So for the next ten years we need to build on average 500,000 units. And that rate would probably be about what is needed thereafter to keep up with rapidly increasing demand and replacement of old units.

    Now some parts (electrodes) may wear out rather quickly and may need to be replaced/refurbished several times a year. For these parts you could end up with 20 million per year.

    Theoretically, we shouldn’t see cars with only one person in them, but they’re the majority of traffic over here. The onion’s production engineering and tooling chain is the key to prices so low that no government or commercial building can justify not having at least one on site. Next up is the ever-increasing power density vs pricing and trade-in value.

    If you can get ahold of a copy of William C. Butterworth’s book “Wheels and Pistons”, I highly recommend it. The inside the box thinking of Henry Ford’s day was that nobody was going to buy 20M cars a year. Until he done it, shortened the standard US workday 1 hour, and doubled wages for all of his employees.

    #6019
    Avatartcg
    Member

    “Programs expand to fill the available memory.”

    The figures which Breakable gave may be long, but in time I think he would be vindicated. Just in Southern California alone, desalinating seawater by reverse osmosis, too expensive at current electrical prices, could use thousands of megawatts. Also in this region more and more homes are installing air conditioning, which at least doubles the electrical bill. How many uses and enterprises are out there unvisualized, waiting to be plugged in.

    #6020
    AvatarHermannH
    Member

    Proposing to install more than 10 times the current capacity every year makes us look a bit out of touch.

    I can see myself using three times as much electricity by getting an electric car and using electric heating instead of gas. I could double that again by installing a bunch of gadgets like a 100 inch plasma TV (and a second air conditioner). But I can’t see myself using 100 times as much 10 years down the road.

    I agree that water desalination could possibly be scaled up to a level that dwarfs all other uses of electricity. If global warming does turn out to be as dangerous as we think it is we also may end up deploying a huge grid of CO2 scrubbers powered by FF.

    If FF does work it will usher in a ‘golden’ area for mankind. Having a source of unlimited clean energy is a major advance in human development. Many problems can be solved if you have cheap energy. There will be years, perhaps decades, of substantial economic growth worldwide. But don’t be fooled! Unlimited cheap and clean energy alone is not enough for sustainable development. There are other resources that already are in short supply and that will be depleted even faster when the world enters a prolonged period of substantial economic growth.

    Henry Ford helped set in motion a century of almost uninterrupted exponential growth. However, this may end up being a Faustian bargain. Our economic system is such that we depend on continued GDP growth. We are addicted to it! If that growth comes to a halt for a few years our economies and societies will collapse. However, anybody who deals with real physical systems (i.e. non-economists) will tell you that exponential growth cannot continue forever. If nothing else stops it, eventually you will run out of atoms in the universe. If you learned the lesson of the chessboard and the rice grains you will realize that this ‘eventually’ is often sooner than one thinks.

    Don’t get me wrong, I want FF to succeed. But FF may simply trigger the mother of all bubbles if we don’t mange to direct its benefits towards a more sustainable and just world economy.

    #6024
    AvatarAeronaut
    Member

    Cheap, clean, and abundant energy would be a great container for all the bubbles that we’re going to have anyway. The reason for that list is to get large numbers of people wondering how they can find a way to profit from the coming golden era of cheap energy. Everybody knows at least 100 people. Some of those people need a job or a better one. Some can bring the capital, talent, and opportunity together. Without that list providing specific visible benefits, clean energy will remain as distant in most peoples’ minds as buying a ticket to orbit the earth 10 times in one flight.

    #6050
    Avatarvansig
    Member

    HermannH wrote: Proposing to install more than 10 times the current capacity every year makes us look a bit out of touch

    only just a few high-profile installs will change the demand profile quite a bit. eg: a large container ship requires ~60 MW to run. if that’s fusion instead of crude oil, then its carbon footprint drops to nothing. voila.

    #6051
    Avatarvansig
    Member

    vansig wrote:

    Proposing to install more than 10 times the current capacity every year makes us look a bit out of touch

    only just a few high-profile installs will change the demand profile quite a bit. eg: a large container ship requires ~60 MW to run. if that’s fusion instead of crude oil, then it’s carbon footprint drops to nothing. voila.

    and because of that, we should be looking at this page, as well…
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_energy_consumption_per_capita

    #6052
    AvatarHermannH
    Member

    vansig wrote:

    Proposing to install more than 10 times the current capacity every year makes us look a bit out of touch

    only just a few high-profile installs will change the demand profile quite a bit. eg: a large container ship requires ~60 MW to run. if that’s fusion instead of crude oil, then it’s carbon footprint drops to nothing. voila.
    I don’t have the numbers in front of me, but I think it is a fair assumption that globally we consume more than 10% of our energy in the form of electricity. So if you install 10 times the current capacity in form of FF reactors these reactors would be able to power EVERYTHING that needs energy today. That is you would have enough capacity to power all ships, trains, cars, factories, heat all houses, etc.; either through direct hydro lines or batteries that are charged by FF devices. No oil needed, nor coal, conventional nuclear, wind, bio-fuels, solar cells, or hydroelectric dams. This is a good thing!

    Of course it will take a while to convert everything to electricity. Some devices will not be able to run on electricity for quite some time: planes, steel smelters, tanks, tractors, transport trucks, etc. My guess is that it will take more than 10 years to achieve 90% conversion. And, given that the price of oil and coal will drop, some sectors will convert much more slowly.

    The proposal asks for installing that much capacity EVERY YEAR. As I mentioned before there are some applications that can soak up a huge amount of electricity; like desalination. Beyond that, however, you need to build new devices to actually use that energy.

    The global economy would have to increase tremendously to consume that energy. In 10 years you would need 10 times as many cars, houses, appliances, factories and batteries to consume all that electricity, and probably more people as well.

    One might say this is a good thing. But guess what, all these cars, houses, appliances, factories and batteries need raw materials for building them, they need land, they cause pollution.

    Today one of the most limited resources is energy, in the form of oil in particular. Some people are convinced that global oil production will peak during the next decade and will drop significantly thereafter. There is more coal, but even that is limited and the consequences for global warming might make it impossible to use that coal.

    Having unlimited, cheap and clean energy will usher in a global economic boom. But eventually other resources will be the limiting factor and bring that boom to an end. And then we may be in a situation where the entire world population is accustomed to a lifestyle that is entirely unsustainable. Just like today we have a situation where the populations in the industrialized nations have a consumption pattern that is not sustainable.

    So I am all for replacing all current energy production with FF energy. I am also for significantly increasing the energy consumption and wealth of third world countries. But we should not fall into the trap of thinking that FF will solve all problems and, once we have it, everlasting prosperity is ensured.

    #6053
    AvatarAeronaut
    Member

    “But we should not fall into the trap of thinking that FF will solve all problems and, once we have it, everlasting prosperity is ensured. ”

    Agreed. Human nature guarantees problems.

    The cel phone and PC industries give us some insight into how to churn a market that should have been saturated long ago, so there’s no way to see from here what’s going to be invented or commercialized in the next 10 to 20 years.

    #6060
    AvatarPhil’s Dad
    Member

    HermannH wrote: I don’t have the numbers in front of me, but I think it is a fair assumption that globally we consume more than 10% of our energy in the form of electricity. So if you install 10 times the current capacity in form of FF reactors these reactors would be able to power EVERYTHING that needs energy today.

    A perfectly sensible observation but the real expansion will be those things we don’t do today because the energy cost is too high. (In some places that includes living beyond 40 but that is not what I am getting at here). Imagine what could be done if energy was not a constraining factor.

    Yes, of course, other raw materials and scarce resources kick in and will be a big issue – but again I say; Imagine. 🙂

    #6062
    AvatarAeronaut
    Member

    How many people needed a car or a phone in 1910? Both were viewed as extravagances (at best).

    #6063
    AvatarJimmyT
    Participant

    HermannH wrote:

    Proposing to install more than 10 times the current capacity every year makes us look a bit out of touch

    The global economy would have to increase tremendously to consume that energy. In 10 years you would need 10 times as many cars, houses, appliances, factories and batteries to consume all that electricity, and probably more people as well.

    One might say this is a good thing. But guess what, all these cars, houses, appliances, factories and batteries need raw materials for building them, they need land, they cause pollution.

    Today one of the most limited resources is energy, in the form of oil in particular. Some people are convinced that global oil production will peak during the next decade and will drop significantly thereafter. There is more coal, but even that is limited and the consequences for global warming might make it impossible to use that coal.

    Having unlimited, cheap and clean energy will usher in a global economic boom. But eventually other resources will be the limiting factor and bring that boom to an end. And then we may be in a situation where the entire world population is accustomed to a lifestyle that is entirely unsustainable. Just like today we have a situation where the populations in the industrialized nations have a consumption pattern that is not sustainable.

    So I am all for replacing all current energy production with FF energy. I am also for significantly increasing the energy consumption and wealth of third world countries. But we should not fall into the trap of thinking that FF will solve all problems and, once we have it, everlasting prosperity is ensured.

    I think Focus Fusion is a bit more than that. Focus Fusion may allow us greater access to space, for example. In ways that a sudden discovery of ten times our current oil resources would not.
    Yes, it’s an additional resource, but a very sharp new tool as well. Recoverable resources may be increased forever. And not just until a new bottle neck is encountered.
    It may allow vastly more efficient recycling too, if you don’t like the inference that space resources will solve all our problems.

    #6064
    Avatarvansig
    Member

    Phil’s Dad wrote:

    I don’t have the numbers in front of me, but I think it is a fair assumption that globally we consume more than 10% of our energy in the form of electricity. So if you install 10 times the current capacity in form of FF reactors these reactors would be able to power EVERYTHING that needs energy today.

    A perfectly sensible observation but the real expansion will be those things we don’t do today because the energy cost is too high. (In some places that includes living beyond 40 but that is not what I am getting at here). Imagine what could be done if energy was not a constraining factor.

    Yes, of course, other raw materials and scarce resources kick in and will be a big issue – but again I say; Imagine. 🙂

    How much of what we regard as waste material could be recycled if-only energy were a small fraction of its current cost?
    Then I could obtain high purity bulk samples of each element/isotope in any waste material, by ionizing it and streaming it through a magnetic field.

    What does the supply and demand curve for energy really look like?

    #6065
    AvatarAeronaut
    Member

    What does the supply and demand curve for energy really look like?

    What would you like it to look like? The cheaper that heat and electricity become, the more demand there will be for each. Even air freighters can be targeted for FF. The indirect approach is low-cost bio-fuels, and the direct approach is to eliminate 250 ton fuel loads.

    I expect fusion plants in almost every building over a few thousand square feet (and many mansions) as well as the entire shipping industry (except maybe most semi trucks) as the market matures past a certain point.

    iow, I don’t expect the world’s energy needs to dictate FF production and sales numbers.

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