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Comment: Re:Nice from a tech point of view, *BUT*... (Score 1) 226

by philcowans (#38783775) Attached to: Engineered Stomach Microbe Converts Seaweed Into Ethanol
Butanol seems to be a good option here - similar energy density to gasoline and can be used neat in any vehicle without modification, so no limits to blending either. I think there's a push at the moment to retrofit ethanol refineries to produce it, but I have no idea whether that technology's applicable here.

Comment: Re:Obligatory Reddit version (Score 4, Interesting) 556

by philcowans (#38705346) Attached to: Can NASA Warm Cold Fusion?

So I've been trying (with minimal success) to find any quality information on this, but there are a few bits and pieces out there.

My understanding is that the most likely theory here is that there's a low energy mechanism for generating neutrons in condensed matter via 'heavy' electrons (high effective mass due to lattice phenomena), and that these neutrons can be used to trigger energy producing reactions (there's a lithium based cycle with no net consumption of lithium, for example). The reactions themselves aren't new, but producing neutrons cheaply enough to generate a net energy gain is. I don't have enough of an understanding of the theory to really judge how feasible it is, but the idea that electrons in lattices can behave in interesting ways (c.f. superconductivity) isn't crazy enough IMO to dismiss the idea outright.

I think this is relatively orthogonal to Rossi and Co., although I believe there was some interaction between him and NASA at some stage. He's definitely mishandled the public relations around his announcement, is likely out of his depth in terms of understanding what he's doing and may well be attempting fraud. That doesn't change the fact that there may be some worthwhile science to be done in the field.

It is surely a great calamity for a human being to have no obsessions. - Robert Bly

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