The city of Helsinki has posed an ambitious goal to be carbon neutral before year 2035. The role of Helsinki could be therefore decisive in the fight agains climate crisis. More than half of the population of the world lives in towns and more than 2/3 of the energy is consumed by cities and are responsible for more than 70 per cent of the carbon oxide emission of the world. About 56 per cent of the carbon oxide emissions of Helsinki are due to the heating. Finding of a sustainable heating method has a decisive effect on the total amount of carbon oxide emissions of Helsinki.
Concerning heat production Helsinki is searching for new kind of thinking and internal collaboration. The goal is to search for the solutions to energy problems even in the world scale. Therefore Helsinki city as challenged innovators and the specialist of the field to sustained solutions to the production of energy in a competition. The competition "Helsinki Energy Challenge" opened February 27 2020 is international.
The requirement of carbon neutrality leaves allows renewable energy sources, energy efficiency, and concentration of pure low carbon technologies (see this). The understanding of photosynthesis could make possible to mimic it technologically and is is a promising approach. Nuclear energy is another alternative despite its problems.
Could artificial photosynthesis or nuclear energy be a solution to the energy problem?
1. The options related to nuclear energy
There are three options related to nuclear power.
- At this moment the power plants use fission of heavy nuclei, which liberates energy because the nuclear binding energy per nucleon decreases as the mass number of the nucleus increases.
The problem is that one obtains as a waste long-lived isotopes which are unstable against decay and produce radiation, which is dangerous for health. The storage of the waste is a problem. Furthermore, the temperature needed in fission reactors is of the same order of magnitude as in the solar core and causes serious problems in the control of fission as also the Fukushima accident demonstrated.
Small scale fission power planets are not so dangers and work is done to develop applications in which nuclear power would be produced in small scale.
- Second option is fusion of light nuclei, which liberates energy for nuclei lighter than iron (Fe). Also the temperature prevailing in the solar core is needed. Now the problem is plasma confinement. Magnetic bottle is the basic solution but it has instabilities: for instance magnetic bottle tends to develop a pinch. Fusion plants still do not exist despite the research which has lasted more than seven decades (see this).
- The third option is non-orthodox and would be based on "cold fusion" (CF), which was reported already 1920 and 1989 by Pons ja Fleischman. Mainstream physics has had a hostile attitude to cold fusion as becomes clear from the ultra-skeptic Wikipedia article see this) but gradually the attitude has changed and CF researchers are taken seriously.
On basis of recent understanding one can say that CF is not a proper term. Ordinary fusion cannot be in question already because it is not possible at low temperatures and because the distributions of heavier isotopes do not correspond to those assignable to ordinary fusion. Low energy nuclear reactions (LENR) or nuclear transmutations are slightly better terms. In the sequel I will use the term CF keeping however in mind that the term is only a convention.
2. Could TGD have something to give?
My own goal has been to develop theoretical understanding about CF and also about nuclear physics on basis of the new physics predicted by Topological Geometrodynamics (TGD) (see this and this), which can be can be regarded as my lifework hitherto. In the sequel I try to summarize this work in hope that it could help to invent the desired new technology.
The following gies a very brief summary about tGD.
- TGD leads to an identification of dark matter as phases of ordinary matter with non-standard value heff= n× h0 of effective Planck constant, which make possible quantum coherence in arbitrarily long length scales proportional to heff. The hypothesis follows from a generalization of physics to describe correlates of cognition: number theory becomes an essental part of quantum physics (this).
- This leads to a model of quantum biology (see this). The coherence of living matter is the basic problem of biology: biochemistry cannot explain it. The basic problem of standard quantum biology is in turn the smallness of the ordinary Planck constant h - it is very difficult to understand the coherence of living matter as macroscopic quantum coherence. TGD would solve this problem: dark matter with genuine quantum coherence in long scales would induce coherence of ordinary matter (not quantum coherence anymore).
Dark matter in TGD sense would provide also a starting point for the attempts to understand photosynthesis, which is now believed to involve quantum physics in an essential manner. The mimicry of the photosynthesis at the level of technology would be an alternative new energy technology.
- Dark nuclei would be in central rol int he proposed model of CF (see this), which would reduce to the production of dark nuclei by feeding to the system energy increasing the value of heff. Dark nuclei for which the binding energies of basic build blocks would be very small, would decay to ordinary nuclei and liberate energy as in ordinary nuclear fusion.
This leads also to a proposal for a theory of nuclear physics, which could replace the nuclear models, which typically explain only some aspects of nuclear physics. The birth of dark nuclei in the collisions of nuclei would replace the tunnelling phenomenon, which reduces the value of energy above which the nuclear reactions can take place from its classical estimate by factor of order 1/100. Because the energy of dark states increases with heff, this would require high collision energy and high temperature in hot fusion.
- In CF the production of dark nuclei would require only a relatively because the building bricks of dark nuclei would be free protons, deuterons, perhaps even heavier nuclei for which one would not do anything. They would form dark nuclei as string like entities assignable to flux tubes and the binding energy for the interaction between basic building bricks would be much smaller than that in ordinary nuclei and assignable to flux tube bonds between them. The increase of heff to produce dark nuclei from - say - deuterons would require only a small energy because the binding energy of dark nucleus would reduce the needed energy. For instance, laser beam could be enough as the researchers like Holmlid indeed claim this).
After this the dark nuclei could transform spontaneously to ordinary nuclei in the transition heff→ h=6h0 and liberate energy which is of the same order of magnitude as the binding energy of ordinary nuclei. Dark nuclei can also react - as in ordinary hot fusion - before the transformation to ordinary nuclei.
One can say, that in CF one goes to the edge of the energy cliff and jumps down. In hot fusion one jumps from the bottom to te edge and then jumps down.
- The basic mechanism of CF and also ordinary fusion would be rely on quantum coherence provided by large heff; the notion of magnetic flux tube; quantum criticality (QC) of TGD Universe making possible flux tube contacts of small energy between reactants with various lengths as analog of long range fluctuations (this would break the limitation due to the short range of nuclear forces and Coulomb wall); the breaking of QC induced by increase of length scale dependent cosmological constant Λ for flux tubes predicted by twistor lift of TGD increasing their string tension so that the resulting force attracts reactants together and allows to overcome the Coulomb wall so that reaction can proceed: the shortening of flux tube would however involved temporary reduction of heff.
The energy to increase Λ and string tension for the flux tube energy would come from reactant: essentially analog of metabolic energy provided by reactants would be in question. The mechanism is basically the same as in bio-catalysis, where the energy wall hindering the reactions corresponds to Coulomb wall.
See the article Could TGD provide new solutions to the energy problem? or a chapter with the same title .
For a summary of earlier postings see Latest progress in TGD.