Is the answer to Earth’s energy problems less than a decade away?
It may sound like the stuff of science fiction but scientists in Toronto believe they may finally have come up with the solution to the Earth’s energy problems. Their ambitious energy plans involve recreating a miniature version of the Sun here on Earth and then harnessing the energy created from the resulting nuclear fusion to provide power for homes and businesses all around Canada.
|Recreating the sun on Earth: Could the STAR Project|
be the answer to the world's energy problems?
* Or an ‘energy loss’ as we ordinary non-scientific people would refer to it.
However, scientists working on the STAR* Project at the Institute of Practical Plasma Applications in Toronto believe that, in theory at least, they may finally be able to solve the ‘negative net energy gain’ problem by recreating a miniature star here on Earth which would be capable of recreating nuclear fusion on such a large scale that the ultimate energy output would at last outweigh the enormous amounts of energy necessary to initiate the fusion process.
* Or the ‘Sun Themed Astroscopic Replica’ Project, to give it its full title.
The STAR Project team of scientists have in fact already successfully produced a miniature prototype ‘star’ under laboratory conditions with a diameter of twenty metres and according to the figures being quoted by the boffins behind the project, if this prototype was reproduced on a far greater scale, a diameter of 1.1 kilometres would be the break even point where the star then produces enough energy to equal the massive initial energy input and thus the negative net energy gain becomes a positive energy return.
In order to really justify the project though, they would need to create a ‘star’ which did more than just break even on the energy scales. Their ambitious plans therefore include designs for an initial ‘Alpha’ star measuring 2.4 kilometres across which would theoretically be capable of producing an energy output far in excess of the energy quantities required to initiate the fusion process. This Alpha Star would be situated seventeen miles north east of the town of Senneterre in a specially constructed underground power station located not far from Lake Parent.
|An illustration of the scale of the STAR Project.|
The entire project however would take over fifteen years to realise, so this is by no means an overnight task, but if the STAR Project funding panel are successful in their efforts to obtain the necessary government grants from the Canadian Renewable Energy Sub-Committee, as well as the necessary planning approvals, then work could begin on the Alpha Star as soon as 2015.
* His words, not mine.
Kim Mitsuwashi, the Principal Scientific Director on the STAR Project, however, strongly disputes KOS’s objections and had this to say in response:
|Other scientific developments such as the motor car and TV|
were initially greeted with equally vociferous opposition.
The history records show, however, that these far-fetched claims made by the nay-sayers with regard to cars, TVs and other scientific developments were all proven to be entirely without merit.
An opportunity like the STAR Project therefore simply can’t be allowed to be frustrated by the unsubstantiated and largely erroneous claims of a few overly paranoid crack-pots.”
Strong words from Ms Mistuwashi, but when the STAR Project could potentially have such massive benefits for society you can perhaps understand why the prospect of opposition to the plans would evoke such an emotional response.
|Two become one: Two hydrogen atoms join together in nuclear|
fusion to form a helium atom releasing energy in the process.
According to Kim, once the program is up and running one litre of prepared water could produce enough energy to power three thousand homes for an entire week, so you can see why Kim and her fellow workers on the STAR Project are desperately hoping the Canadian Renewable Energy Sub-Committee give the green light to the project and release the funding required to move things on to the next step of development when they make their final decision early next year.
In fact the Canadian Renewable Energy Sub-Committee could ultimately prove to be a bigger obstacle than the KOS campaigners, as the ambitious plans involved in making the STAR Project a reality would require an estimated budget of over fourteen billion dollars, more than the entire budget currently assigned to renewable energy by the Canadian government for the entire next five years. If the STAR Project is to get the go ahead therefore, it would inevitably mean other renewable energy projects having to miss out.
The Canadian Minster for Energy, Edward Suskind, has so far made some encouraging noises though, and of course the technology involved could ultimately be sold on to other governments around the world, so Kim and her team remain optimistic of a positive announcement when the funding committee finalise their decision early next year.
It may sound like the stuff of science fiction, but if the decision goes the way the STAR Project boffins are hoping, then work on the Alpha Star could begin as soon as early 2015, and the Canadian public could even find their homes and offices being powered by a miniature sun here on Earth as soon as 2017.
This is one scientific development therefore that the entire world, and not just the Canadian public, should pay close attention to.
Scroll down the page for the latest update on the background to the ambitious and potentially ground-breaking STAR Project...
|Not suitable for prudes or squares.|
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