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Old 12-14-2011, 10:10 PM   #1
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Rare Earth Metals

While not exactly PMs, some of them are pretty close (Europium is priced in the $thousands per kg). These are critical metals for many high technology applications, and, alas, China produces some 95% of them. And restricting export, much to the alarm of the Defense Department and car companies.

These metals are hard to separate and to refine. Not to mention making magnets and phosphors (etc.) from them. Apparently the USA has lost much of its chemical engineering expertise in doing these steps.

Here's a link with some good news about the USA's own Molycorp (MCP on the HYSE), the closest thing we have to a market leader:

http://www.raremetalblog.com/2011/12/rare-earths-deal-time.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&u tm_campaign=Feed%3A+typepad%2FIBmE+%28RareMetalBlo g+%29

You can subscribe for FREE to the Rare Earth Metal Blog daily newsletter, I get it each day, but so far I do not have a dog in this hunt.

---

The purpose of this thread is to suggest what good investments might be out there for us small speculators.

Lately I have been reading that almost ALL of the junior rare earth minors (in very early stages) will likely fail. So, careful!
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Old 12-15-2011, 12:31 AM   #2
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I've played MCP for the nice huge swings, and sometimes made money trading it. I have my doubts about them as a long term investment, though - they seem all too willing to try to grow super fast by diluting the shareholders and adding debt generally. I haven't played them for awhile - it takes a bit of study to get back into the swing of their rhythm and play them for gain as they go all over the place. Their own owners have sold a lot of their founding stock - you can't blame them, they've held that risk forever, but it's not the greatest sign either when management starts to cash out.

We've learned some new chemical tech (ion exchange) that makes separating the RE's not so bad (not that great, but the older ways were flat out terrible), but there's this other problem - they're almost always found with thorium, which is radioactive, and becomes a disposal problem, since no one is buying enough of it.


These days, even mines are trying for a zero-waste situation, where everything that isn't sold is recycled, like the paper business has become... it's a real problem, and the reason we shut down all our RE outfits when China was willing to let some Chinese die so our guys didn't have to - a real case of NIMBY took over here.

Our backwards nuclear regulators haven't allowed us to really develop Th based reactors that would use the thorium at this point, or really solved the problems of approving designs for any reactors that are both safe and cost effective...it's an issue. Th does have serious proliferation issues (U233 bred from it makes great bombs), just like the plutonium from uranium reactors, and our refusal to allow storage in Yucca or do reprocessing exacerbates all those issues.

Now that someone finds these real valuable, we're ready to start producing again. Dunno where all the Th is going to go - we don't use it in lamp mantles anymore, and the welding rods we use it in don't use much.

China's limitation on exports isn't purely evil - they are just trying to capture the other value-added in making them into magnets, or even better, complete products. Nothing particularly sinister about that, they just export what's left over after their own industry demands...Just the usual greed and self interest happening. Their own production has been hampered some as rising standards of living make for fewer Chinese willing to glow in the dark now...globalization goes both ways!
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Old 12-15-2011, 06:19 AM   #3
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I would think that a peble bed reactor is the safest alternative outside of thorium because of the innate stability it offers. With a zero chance of runaway reaction and ease of fueling/re-fueling, and the fact that spent fuel is easier and safer to store and cool by virtue of design, it seems to me to be the best design. Unfortunately, here in the US, we have dozens of reactors and no two exactly alike. In France, they nified design for a number of reasons, not the least of which is reduced overall cost of replacement parts. When you have so many different designs, there can be no uniformity, making each reqactor it's own little custom world.
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Old 12-15-2011, 10:31 AM   #4
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Yeah, anything custom is by definition more expensive and not as well characterized as to operating and safety/emergency parameters. I think our NRC has gone to the other extreme, but that's me.

I do fusion work, but of course study all things nuclear. I've been shocked to find out how much I didn't already know about fission used in a practical situation.
(My old work got me into bomb tech, but I don't call that practical in this context)

There's a lot of tough engineering - things creep under stress, hydrogen embrittlement of metals from neutron capture, or lattice displacement from neutron knock out - this can get enough energy stored in the carbon of a pebble bed machine to make its own thermal runaway...

And then, the decay chains in that very high flux neutron environment don't go just like the books describe them in isolation. A lot of the information may as well be classified - or trade secret which can be much harder to find. Things like neutron absorption cross sections vs temperature and how the various isotope mixes evolve during burnup (and the equilibrium mix depends on history and current burn rates) that can either increase or decrease what would be critical mass. And the net reactivity is of course temperature-variable (doppler due to temperature can be used as feedback when it shifts mean neutron energy off fission cross section resonance - but not always!). And so on and so forth.

This all makes it very hard to "Red team" some of the more "innovative" possible designs and keep it honest. If I was going to have one in my own backyard, I'd probably go for a "water boiler" or CANDU design, depending on whether I could enrich U or not - but it's really too complex even for me to maintain something like that. I'd settle for a drum or two of real hot used fuel, and make a thermocouple battery buried in the yard...there's your solution to the waste problem. Just give it to me or other guys like me! Free electricity, 24/7 for life? Where do I sign?

All that is why I like fusion (assuming I ever get to decent output). At least there you can flip a switch and it just goes out right now. No requirement for super-ultra-reliable cooling stuff and having to keep air or water away from things that could catch fire.

We'll have to see what improvements I get with the new line of research I'm taking with the fusion - it might pay off. I think I've found out something everyone else has ignored that's so head-slappingly stupid it's going to be hard to take credit for, other than that I'm the guy who thought of it. It has to do with ensuring we're not trying to violate the conservation laws for spin and parity to get the reaction pathway you want, so it's a real doh - the thermal solutions depend too much on chance alignments of those things, so I'm not going to try it that way. It's one of the things I'm building when I'm not here annoying everyone.

But for the RE problem, someone needs to come up with an economic use for Th, which needs to be bred to be fissile. Breeders have a bad rap, some is deserved, but a lot of that was from the bad old days when breeding was strictly for weapons, and so was run as fast as possible - perhaps past the limits of safety. Most of the "new innovative" designs don't seem to address some of the above problems that I KNOW exist, so I'm a little skeptical of them. India seems the only country doing any serious work there, and they're not moving real fast at present.

There's been some talk of feedforward designs - either using an accelerator to make neutrons and use them in sub-critical fission reactors or for breeding, or using a fusion neutron source for that. It's a possibility...the advantages there are the sub-critical parts, a bunch of the other problems either go away or become a lot less in that case. It is at least looking very possible to get to net energy gain this way, even if fusion alone won't do it.
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Old 12-15-2011, 06:08 PM   #5
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Damn son! now my fucking brain hurts..... No, really, I am not a physicist by any stretch of the imagination, and you are CLEARLY more informed, but what I have read says that pebble beds do not have a lot of the risks of a typical BWR. I will, from now on, defer to your info as it is clearly based upon much more sound info than I have access to.

Thanks much for the info. Keep it coming. Actually, I would like to see what you have to say about the Fukushima [ongoing slow motion] disaster.]
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Old 12-16-2011, 11:25 AM   #6
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Yah, it made my brain hurt, and I'm still learning about it. We're getting a little off topic to DoChen's RE thread, but maybe he'll forgive us (and we can start another one on it). And I do have a little on Fukishima.


Since my writeup got long, and it's kinda off topic, I made it into a word doc (since most of you probably don't have open office) and I'll just link it here.
Well, this board won't let me upload a 50k .doc, or even a 20k txt, so I put it on my site in a semi-secret url I keep for things like that. Hey PMBUg, buy a disk drive!

http://coultersmithing.com/data/FissionIssues.doc

But yeah, it turns out that trying to design an intrinsically safe fission reactor is a bit of a bear, even for the best and brightest. It's more a matter at some point of which risks you evaluate as being the most acceptable. Politics gets involved when you talk about things that make it scientifically safer, but increase the risk of diverting bomb making materials, for just one issue.

Humans stink at risk evaluation - people panicked over the DC Sniper, though he killed fewer people than the accidents at some intersections in DC, for example. And this is easily manipulated by the pols to create things like "the war on terror" - which if you think about it is a war on a technique - a cute way for them to grab "war powers" forever and create a police state - and the sheep fell for it. More on general security at Bruce Schneier's blog here.
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Old 12-16-2011, 12:07 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by DCFusor View Post:
... Hey PMBUg, buy a disk drive!
...
Need moar neodymium. /bad rare earth-hard drive joke
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Old 12-16-2011, 12:12 PM   #8
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Neodymium is incredibly rare, yet is a critical element in so many things. The more we come to rely on rare earth elements for our technology, the closer we come to the end.
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Old 12-16-2011, 12:44 PM   #9
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Not to be a pedant, but from wiki:

Quote :
Neodymium is never found in nature as the free element, but rather it occurs in ores such as monazite and bastnäsite that contain small amounts of all the rare earth metals. The main mining areas are in China, the United States, Brazil, India, Sri Lanka, and Australia. The reserves of neodymium are estimated at about eight million tonnes. Although it belongs to the rare earth metals, neodymium is not rare at all. Its abundance in the Earth crust is about 38 mg/kg, which is the second highest among rare-earth elements, following cerium. The world's production of neodymium was about 7,000 tonnes in 2004.[7] The bulk of current production is from China, whose government has recently imposed strategic materials controls on the element, raising some concerns in consuming countries.[8]
RE's are cheap to dig, relatively speaking, and not rare at all. They're expensive because of the waste issues with Th, and the difficulty of getting them apart from one another - they tend to be all too chemically similar until you get to end use cases, like doping magnets, or making color phosphors for picture tubes (that demand is kinda gone now, and was for europium mostly). For those cases, small impurities of the other RE's mess up the end product.

A similar situation exists for zirconium and hafnium - chemically very hard to part, yet very different in their neutron cross sections, almost the opposites of all existence that way. It's also hard to get nickel and cobalt apart - though we usually don't care that much.

Edit: to prove this, price misch metal (lighter flints). It's a big component of those, but mixed up with cerium, iron, and other hard to separate rare earths, so they are cheap by the pound.

Who knows, at some point some nano-tech might solve this separation problem and make them all cheap in pure form. Don't know that anyone is looking into it just now, though. Most of that sort of nano-tech work is in meta-materials to replace expensive catalysts now, eg make Pt and Pd not required so much - and even that is a tiny fraction of all the nano tech and meta-material work.

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Old 12-16-2011, 12:56 PM   #10
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I don't want to come off as a dickhead here, but why are the damn magnets so freaking expensive if there is so much of this stuff floating around? Is it the process of separation alone, or what is left in the mining and process tailings that is expensive to deal with?
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Old 12-16-2011, 02:04 PM   #11
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You're not a dickhead, almost no one understands this.

RE ore almost always has a lot of thorium in it. Instead of being taken away, like when you mine uranium, this byproduct tends to be left at the mine-refinery as tailings, where it creates fear in the locals due to the chance of a flood or earthquake spreading it around, it's the NIMBY problem from hell.

When China started producing these, cheaper than we could, since they didn't sweat that issue, we just shut down our own production - free market at work. When their prices rose and they decided to keep more of their own production to capture more of the total value added in finished products, we started up again - free market at work.

For various, mostly political reasons, we've not come up with a use for that thorium in the requisite amounts, which would solve this half of the issue overnight. Once concentrated (because you removed the RE's and other stuff from it) it becomes a bit nasty to be around to say the least.

RE's are useless mixed for almost all uses other than lighter flints. And they are VERY hard to separate to the required purity levels required for either phosphors for CRTs and CCFLs or magnets, since despite having different magnetic or optical properties, they are so doggone similar in chemistry that you can't just get this one to precipitate out and leave the others in solution. The required effort to get the level of purity needed would make even iron expensive - and does silicon if you need it pure enough to make integrated circuits (PPB), or easier, solar panels (PPM) out of. Tiny amounts of the wrong stuff in a magnet crystal lattice let the electrons with trapped spins (way oversimplified here) get away and the magnet demagnetize. So you need them really pure for magnets. Similar issues make red phosphors with Eu require high purity - the phosphor loses its ability to change input energy into light rather than heat if there are energy-level escape pathways due to impurities.

So the ore is expensive, not for being rare, but for being contaminated by radioactive stuff - so at that step it's worse than iron, or silicon. It's no where near as rare as the PM's for example.

Step two:

Getting them apart from one another is hard, and there is no ore body that just has one, the stuff is always mixed up together. It's so hard that the way we used to have to do it was fractional crystallization, which takes many steps to get to the desired purity - perhaps a hundred. Expensive in time and energy. And once you've gotten most of the Ne out of some mother liquor, you get to do it all over again for each other RE element you want.

Now we are doing it with ion exchange in columns. The resins for that have gotten cheaper with our tech development, but it's still expensive, takes lots of passes, and the resins need regeneration after a pass; there is also still the problem of what you do with the rest after getting out the Ne.

In short, there's no simple chemical process that can be run in bulk by monkeys like with almost every other element that is mined and refined out there.

So, another big expense.

Then, making magnets ain't cheap even if the materials are. Ceramics are still the lowest cost per BH product (total magnetism), which is why all speakers and refrigerator magnets use them - even if they have to be much bigger and heavier for the same energy product. In a car or a windmill, the weight is the big deal. The loss from electromagnetic field windings in both weight and energy would be even worse. The new light powerful PM's (permanent magnets in this case) are why these new applications even exist. Even at their high prices, they're still the cheapest way to do some things, so we are doing thing we didn't used to be able to do at all, with them.

Even with all that, the RE magnets are actually almost the cheapest per BH in existence, which is why samarium-cobalt, alnico, and platinum-cobalt ($$$ - only used in space projects in the past for TWT's and magnetrons going to orbit) are going by the wayside. This is enhanced by the fact that except for the latter, the NeFeB magnets are also smaller and lighter than all the others. So in some sense, for the same function, they're cheap even now. It's just that when you're putting them into things no one would ever have thought of using a PM for in the first place, they're a major part of the total cost (windmills, electric cars). They are a diddly part of the cost of say, stereo headphones, where again it's the size and weight that matter most.

But they're not actually expensive at all when compared against other tech for the same amount of total magnetism and especially for the same weight....
Here, I made a little cyclotron using them, and believe me, compared to iron and copper electromagnets, it's a revolution - no cooling needed, and the size gets real reasonable. Actually cheaper even when the size and weight are considered. Which is why engineers worldwide are designing them into everything, creating all this new demand.

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Old 12-17-2011, 12:11 AM   #12
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I have been neglecting my duties by running around pulling money out of the bank, buying PMs (the precious, not permanent), and trying to get an attachment to go out (no success, grrr.... computers...).

---

DCFusor, I am very happy that you went through all your explanations of problems re the rare earths. Regurgitating what you said (a way to see if I understand something or not), I see three issues:

1) Thorium left behind is a big problem. Is there anywhere where we could "put it"? I read an interesting article in "Scientific American" a few years ago that proposed putting nuclear waste in big (essentially glass) cylinders in low-ish concentration and then burying them in big boreholes deep under the ocean floor (away from seismic zones, etc.).

2) I understand the chemical similarity of the various rare earths and how difficult they are to separate. You mention that there has been some progress in the chemical separation technologies, but not as much as we would like.

3) Even with the right rare earths all nicely separated out, it is still hard to make things like permanent magnets and phosphors.

OK, so if I more-or-less have the above right, I now have some questions:

a) I keep reading that only a few of the RE companies are going to survive (perhaps first to market miners). Maybe instead of trying to pick mining winners (Molycorp or Avalon for example), perhaps there is a way to play the processing of rare earths. Is there a specialty company in this space? Or is the technology pretty well out there for anyone who wants to build a separation and/or refining plant(s)?

b) I read that a company called something like Neo-Materials makes permanent magnets (for cars), I think they are in Canada. I do not know who in the US is a "pure play" on magnets (or even close) or anyone else in other rare earth uses (who make Europium red phosphors for example). I guess what I am trying to ask here is where is a "choke point" in the whole mine-to-magnet space, where can we collect a toll...? Please don't say General Electric...

c) Does the USA even have enough chemical engineers (etc.) so that we could build this industry up in the next few years? Or has the technology race(s) already been lost to China, Japan and Korea (Korea apparently makes very hi-tech magnets)? Or is this whole rare earth industry too small to support a big US investment when the other players are already there (a zero-sum game)? Or are the profit margins just too low (you sort-of hinted that with your comments about China not bothered much by Thorium)?

Many thanks! Perhaps you have seen that when I find someone who knows something I want to know about, well, I am PUSHY to take advantage of any opportunities to pick an expert's brain...

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Old 12-17-2011, 08:48 AM   #13
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DCF, I mentioned this in the Alaskan mountain thread, but seems appropriate here too. Any thoughts on whether or not this offers a better opportunity for rare earth mining?
Quote :
Vast deposits of rare earth minerals, crucial in making high-tech electronics products, have been found on the floor of the Pacific Ocean and can be readily extracted, Japanese scientists said on Monday.

"The deposits have a heavy concentration of rare earths. Just one square kilometer (0.4 square mile) of deposits will be able to provide one-fifth of the current global annual consumption," said Yasuhiro Kato, an associate professor of earth science at the University of Tokyo.
...
http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/...76300320110704

Anyone know if the rare earths in the sea floor's sludge are also bound to thorium like we find in mining mountains?
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Old 12-19-2011, 10:03 PM   #14
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I'll have to look into your questions guys. I honestly don't know the answers to them at the moment. I know Molycorp is kind of out of their depth alone, and has made deals with some other companies to go mine-to-magnet, with the other companies providing the magnet manufacture - that's it's own whole complex set of stuff.

I know GM, way way back, figured out that making magnets half as good without doing the fancy separations fully was viable for some things, but this was a couple decades ago, and I've not heard anything since (General motors used to really do some good high tech work back in the day).

I'll just have to fish around for those answers and see what I can find out. I think DoChen and PMBug are asking the right ones in this context, though.

I suspect we have enough engineers, we might need a process scientist or a few, but time to market has to be short, and the big boys in most businesses are loath to spend money on R&D until after it's play money - usually not upfront. The government is involved for certain in this, since they are prime customers for little things that go into missiles and bombs, but they are generally neither fast nor efficient. Once a good process is developed, you can run it with grunts - by definition its not a good process unless you get there.

Stacking up any big amount of radioactive waste is a political problem already...this stuff is more dangerous in some ways than used fuel, because even though it's not as hot by far, it's dust and easy to get spread around. The NIMBY crowd just wants their toys, not to have to live with how they are made.

India is about the only country looking hard into Th reactors, since they have the monzanite sand deposits and have the same problems - but are a little more open to new things. But it's a ten or twenty year plan to get to the first real demand.

PMBug's link says the undersea stuff has about 1/5 the amount of Th in it - better but that's still a lot, so I can answer that one. Still a problem. But this points something up - that's tons of "radioactive waste" already there on the sea floor, so maybe we shouldn't panic so hard about a little that man adds....it's "natural", after all.

DoChen's A question - yes, this is correct, and it's because the stuff isn't rare, and the first couple who get the separation processing up are going to rule totally, as it will be easy to supply the world demand at that point. Right now, I heard that someone in the ex-soviet union was setting up a big processing plant - like China, they have more-lax regs on killing workers, so they get first go without the interference. That probably won't last, though.

I guess someone is going to have to spend a day of hard googling to see if there's any worthwhile press releases out there. I'd guess not everyone would be advertising though.

Sadly, if there is a choke point, it might well be GE who probably owns a crucial patent, or some other like firm. No one wants to hear me when I rant about eye-pee, but this is ever more the norm. And if it was GE, they'd just make a ton in that division, then waste all the profits propping up something else, making it a bad investment (they already do this in jet engines and medical gear).

But that's a guess, not a fact, yet.
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Old 12-20-2011, 01:08 AM   #15
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Neo Material Technologies, of Canada. They look to be magnet related, I just buzzed through their site.

http://www.magnequench.com/

A recent news release, wow, these guys had revenues of $248 million in 3rd Q 2011:

http://www.magnequench.com/assets/content/ir/ir_press/a523/a564/Neo_Press_Rel_10Nov11.pdf

They are a listed company in Toronto.

---

Great Western Minerals Group Ltd. is small-ish looking, but they have processing (UK and Michigan) not just mining:

http://www.gwmg.ca/html/projects/processing/index.cfm

These guys are on stockcharts.com. ticker: GWMGF


EDIT:

Could not find in a quick set of Google searches any company involved in Europium, which is used in nuclear reactor control rods and in red phosphors for monitors and TV screens. Other than the above two companies, but Eu looks to be a sideline for them. Usually Google gives me better results than what I got for looking for companies that process Europium.


RE-EDIT:

Yes, there are two others out there with "processing" capability of one sort or another. One is MCP, who bought a decrepit ex-Soviet facility in Estonia (training grounds for their guys?).

And somebody (Stans Energy?) is doing something with an ex-Soviet plant in (Kazakhstan?). Too tired to continue this...

Last edited by DoChenRollingBearing; 12-20-2011 at 01:32 AM. Reason: Europium, it's a mystery! "Processing"!
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Old 12-20-2011, 04:29 AM   #16
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Lynas (LYC), in Australia had been doing quite well in terms of growth and projects although now well off their recent highs. They are currently completing a new refinery.

They have some interesting supply/demand factoids in a presentation from May:

http://www.lynascorp.com/content/upl...n_May_2011.pdf
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Old 12-20-2011, 08:27 AM   #17
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The other big use of Eu is phosphors for CCFL lamps - maybe not a growth industry just now if people decide to prefer leds. But that hasn't happened yet. My whole house is CCFLs, nearly 100% but I'm not buying a lot - once you shake out the brands that stink, they're real reliable.
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Old 12-20-2011, 03:27 PM   #18
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While this isn't "it" - this is the kind of thing you have to sweat when betting on limitations in science and tech.
http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-12-...gnificant.html

The thing is, 99% of the info you get from these kinds of sources is pure hype...but then there's that other 1%.
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Old 12-26-2011, 03:18 PM   #19
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DCF

do you have any observations on Rossi's cold fusion ?

http://energycatalyzer3.com/

Would really value your view on this.

and this -

http://oilprice.com/Alternative-Ener...n-Reactor.html
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Old 12-27-2011, 10:15 AM   #20
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In short - almost certainly bogus. Rossi especially has all the signs of a pure fraud.
Won't let real scientists near the thing. His patent, only in Italy, rejected for lack of patentable info. His papers only published in a journal he created. His customer a secret. His other money raising efforts - prolific. His documentable energy output, nil.
Attempts to duplicate his "results" - fail, and only make the energy you'd expect from a chemical reaction of the reactants.

I work with D and T in my fusion efforts. I run a discussion board on the topic, which was "Forked" off another one that lets in 13 year olds. So many people, even some grownups with degrees, think their one silly idea is gonna solve it all, not realizing that experimenters have already tried all that - but often don't report the failures when reality strikes - it's embarrassing, and even on my forums the "it almost worked" threads don't get enough attention.

Otherwise intelligent people sometimes seem to forget that charged particles of like charge repel - except when it's convenient for them to do so. Or that energy tends to equalize between all the degrees of freedom except in very special cases (which require special documentation and explanation). Or just forget that if say, DT fusion could be done in a rice cooker (I can do it limited rates in something like that - and have) - by the time you get to power, the flux of 14 mev neutrons from that simply takes apart the fusion device pretty darn quick (hydrogen embrittlement, lattice displacement). Believe it or not, the ITER tokomak boys (world wide collaboration) forgot about that one until after they'd been working for years and spent most of the huge budget they get. They suddenly realized they if they actually got the predicted success, their reactor materials would kind of go south almost before they could take the measurements to prove it! And no, it wasn't the critical wall liner that faces the hot plasma - we're talking the structural steel and like things! How that many people can collectively be that stupid is hard to figure till you follow the money....

From where I sit, science has been gravitating toward too much specialization, too much hustling for funds, and as a result, no progress and accidental re-invention of stuff known in the '50s and before - I see it every day in press releases (and the fact that most freely available science is press releases tells you something right there).

So many things "will change the world, if" - and if and if and if - too many if's in the chain, it'll never happen (multiplied probabilities).

It's one of several reasons I'm doing my own work self-funded (a couple of people are involved) - because the beggars out there all seem to be charlatans, and I don't want any part of being painted with that brush, even though more money would be nice (a lab assistant!). I'm free to do *good* science, turn on a dime when I observe something new that forces a change in understanding, and so on. Half the discoveries I've made would never have happened in "big science" where you are run by committee and have to justify what you're doing every minute. Pretty much leaves out any opportunity for the creative lightning to strike.

I'm doing most work on the "nature" of fusion - what's the process that makes the wave functions want to converge thusly? I'm using the neutron producing reactions because they are much easier to instrument - nothing in nature makes neutrons so they make a great signature even when there's very little fusion going on. But the understanding of how it works is the real key - then you might do fusion with the a-neutronic or low neutron reactions that can be useful to the world outside of bombs.

In the meanwhile, it's just amazing how much "emergent behavior" you can get in a soup of hydrogen ions and electrons. While one bee or one ant might be pretty simple - get a few trillion of them in a box and you see some stuff you'd never predict from studying just one - and that's where most of the bogus "ideas" come from - the expectation that a group is the same as one - and that's so far from reality it's unfortunately not funny.

Talk is cheap, in other words. Show me a running experiment - and let me poke around in there, bring my own metrology gear if I want - and I'll believe a claim, not before. Explaining how it works when nothing else does - that's nice too. This is not to say you can't make money investing in a charlatan, but I prefer other venues for trading.
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