Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Season's Greetings, and more bits of the future

Season's Greetings to all.

Just a quick post, kind of a loose update to the long discussion about energy and the lack thereof previously discussed here.

Cartridge nuclear reactors
"Home" nuclear reactors

It doesn't take too much imagination to put a reactor between these two sizes in a high speed rail locomotive. Which is funny, because when I came up with the T1s, my nonstop nuclear trains, it was the early 1990s, and the smallest nuclear reactors I knew about were in submarines. It just seemed like the logical extension.

In the battery world:
ten times the power and 5 minute recharges. Assuming, of course, that these two developments can coexist in the same battery. This is actually beyond I was picturing (though I'd not imagined the technology this explicitly) for the electric cars in Looking Glass. I assumed that electric cars would have the kind of limited ranges we see today, with the fast charging, thus making them primarily useful only for city driving. As an aside, electric cars came into the LookingGlass world much later than the trains. When I originally thought of the world back in the early '90s, people in cities used mass transportation and those in rural areas rode horses.

So how does all this fit in? Well, for one thing, I don't see anyone seriously selling individuals their own nuclear reactors for home use any time soon. I do think we'll see a transition to local nuclear power, instead of regional nuclear power. Big cities could get a cartridge nuke instead of buying power from the grid at all, although they'd probably stay connected so they could *sell* power. Having a backup is nice too.

The battery power is a surprise, frankly. Assuming both advances are marketable and compatible with each other, I think it could push decentralization of electrical power much further. (I didn't invent this idea - Heinlein posited it with his ShipStones in his book Friday.) If electrical power storage hits roughly the energy density and cost of petroleum fuels, it's reasonable to picture houses with a large battery array that are charged from a truck, much as propane and fuel oil are delivered today.

Interesting stuff.

Anyway. I hope this snowy Christmas day finds you all well.


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