See Krivit’s con-fusion re power and energy for last month’s take on this situation.
Krivit has “withdrawn” but saved the original articles, and has continued beating the “lies” drum, only with slightly more subtlety.
The original articles are at NET Discrepancies and NET Lie, both now after a disclaimer document that denies any identified error.
Here, I end up reviewing Krivits entire new article, which is full of errors and misrepresentations, all supporting his basic theme: other people are wrong and misleading, when what is actually going on is that Krivit does not understand what is being written to him.
His disclaimer has:
After extensive e-mail conversations between Steven B. Krivit, publisher and senior editor of New Energy Times, and Laban Coblentz, communication head of ITER, Coblentz failed to identify any error in either of the articles. Coblentz did, however, disagree with the goal of ITER as we presented it in our articles. However, the main goal of ITER, as we said in our articles, is identical to the main goal reported on the ITER Web site. Our new article offers readers Coblentz’s perspective on this matter. Coblentz also said that the word “lie” was unwarranted.
This is typical Krivit. In that correspondence, someone “failed.” Krivit does not see the bifurcation, that perhaps he failed to see his own errors. In the following post, Krivit clearly misreads his correspondent:
Former ITER Spokesman Confirms Accuracy of New Energy Times Story
What did the person actually say?
In a January 16 email, Michel Claessens wrote:
I read with interest your paper on fusion power. You are right to stress that we should be clear and define the terms that we use (especially if we want to maintain public trust). I am the former head of communications at ITER (before Laban Coblentz), and I always said that the ITER Web site does not use correct figures regarding “fusion power.” We can’t compare the input of 50 MW with the output of 500 MW because the former is electric and the latter is thermal. Also, I was told that the average electricity consumption on the site will be 110 MW with peaks of 600 MW during the shots.
This is common, a correspondent with some communications skill will always lead with “you are right,” and then say whatever could be right about what has been written. However, Krivit has more, he called Claessens, and reports:
Claessens said that he saw no errors, significant omissions, or misrepresentations in the article.
“On the contrary,” he said, “I read it with interest because I did not know that the input power of JET in 1997 was as high as 700 megawatts.”
I would assume that Krivit asked Claessens if he saw “any error, significant omissions, or misrepresentations in the article.” This is a phone conversation, possibly unexpected. It is not a formal review of the article, which was not read for that purpose. It is not clear that Claessens understood the issue, both the relevance of “other power” and Krivit’s real agenda.
LENR researchers, for the most part, stopped talking with Krivit because, so many times, he used whatever was said without making sure that his quotations reflect speaker intention. Here, he turns that conversation into a declaration of “Accuracy.” The “accuracy” of language must include reasonable implications from the language.
The fact here, likely, Claessens would probably confirm, is that he saw, in his possibly casual reading, no major errors, significant omissions, but it’s unlikely that he would stick, on reflection, with “no misrepresentations.” If there were no misrepresentations, why did Krivit “withdraw” the articles?
That would be, on the face, because he called the public statements of ITER a “lie.” Was that a misrepresentation? There are difficulties in expressing net power, it can have different meanings, and a speaker may select meanings serving the purpose of the speaker. Those are not lies, unless intended to deceive.
Krivit’s general theme is moral failure, reprehensibility, he is searching for proof of it. It leads him to misinterpret evidence, commonly.
Sometimes, even often, he has some point. He criticized SRI M4, severely, and attempted to injure Michael McKubre, probably the foremost LENR researcher in the world, by complaining to authorities about alleged data falsification or alteration.
The fact is that there were certain issues around M4, well worth exploring. Whenever I read LENR papers, I have questions, there are things, possibly of importance, that have not been explained, and a total and complete explanation would possibly not be publishable, simply as a practical matter.
My approach was to ask McKubre for explanation, and trust that he would tell the truth. Scientists are trained to do that. Krivit’s approach was to accuse and demand, since he dislikes the results, which were not consistent with the theory that Krivit supports and promotes.
The upshot of my inquiry and communication was to note that some issues might not be resolvable at this late date, but that M4 nevertheless remains the most precise measurement of the heat/helium ratio to date. It is only one data point, though, and, on what might be “full helium” measurement, there is only one other, which Krivit also attacked, clearly and unmistakeably misunderstanding what Violante, the researcher, was telling him. That other result has lower precision, because it was the result that had the lowest heat, by far. So with both lower heat and lower helium, any experimental error would loom larger in determining the ratio. Nevertheless, as it happened it was “on the money,” confirming SRI M4.
In fact, that measurement ended up capturing all the helium, probably because Violante used reverse electrolysis to try to invigorate that cathode, for it cleans the surface, also causing fast deloading, but … it also dissolves some of the surface, which probably released all the trapped helium. M4 had also used some reverse electrolysis, as part of an effort to “flush” out the helium, by “sloshing” deuterium back and forth. That probably had no effect in itself, trapped helium doesn’t move from electrolysis, apparently. So a major approach to measuring heat/helium was discovered by accident and not even noticed until, following up on Krivit’s critique, I read all the material much more carefully and noticed the coincidence and asked them about it.
Was my conclusion that McKubre and Violante had “proved” cold fusion? No. Krivit is obsessed by “proof.” Rather, there is an indication there, and the evidence is not yet fully conclusive, and thus, the obvious idea was to encourage renewed study of the heat/helium ratio, which is, in fact, the only direct evidence that LENR is real and that deuterium is being converted to helium — a conclusion that is mechanism-independent.
Noticing discrepancies is very important in science. Blaming and impeaching is not scientific, it’s emotional reactivity. It impedes science, but there are “journalists” who take it as their job, not only to report fact, but to interpret it for the public, especially as “good” and “bad.”
I will review this new article on NET: The Selling of Iter
[I have now finished that review. My impression, below, was correct and Krivit shows no evidence that anyone has actually been deceived, and his own article is full of misrepresentations and errors.]
My first impression, which I may modify on study: Krivit is still not clear on the distinction between power and energy, nor on the concept of “fusion power” vs peak input power, power used to maintain conditions in an experiment vs operating power of a practical power plant.
My own opinion is that the hot fusion approaches may never be practical, but that opinion is common among scientists. It is an extremely difficult engineering problem. At this point, though, hot fusion is an accepted reality, and it always produces “excess energy.” In small-scale experiments, this might not be measurable. For very short periods of time, hot fusion power has reached “ignition,” see Lawson criterion.
The engineering problem with hot fusion is confinement. No physical material could confine the plasma at hot fusion temperatures. Various approaches are used, and JET and ITER are tokamaks, which attempt to use magnetic fields to confine the plasma. Plasma is ionized (by definition, and ionization is maintained by high temperature) and so the motion of plasma ions will be curved by the presence of a magnetic field and the goal is to arrange that curvature to be circular, so that the ions are confined to a space.
Krivit is treating the input power requirements for JET as if it is news. From Wikipedia, Joint European Torus — if it is on Wikipedia, it’s hardly hidden or secret:
JET’s power requirements during the plasma pulse are around 500 MW with peak in excess of 1000 MW. Because power draw from the main grid is limited to 575 MW, two large flywheel generators were constructed to provide this necessary power. Each 775-ton flywheel can spin up to 225 rpm and store 3.75 GJ. Each flywheel uses 8.8 MW to spin up and can generate 400 MW (briefly).
[I have replaced the Wikipedia references with links to the source articles, which are fascinating to me.}
However, JET was an engineering trial, not an attempt to be a prototype reactor to generate power. Key in understanding JET results would be distinguishing between set-up power, operating power, and then ignition, which will assume that conditions are stable. However, the primary condition in a tokamak is the magnetic fields. Magnetic fields do not, in themselves, require maintenance power, so there is no essential requirement for continued power beyond setting up the field. However, with ordinary electromagnets, there is resistance to current flow, so an operating electromagnet will heat. JET uses ordinary electromagnets, and so massive power is used to maintain the magnetic field. The plasma does not see this energy, if the field is constant. It is not “input power.” If a strong enough field could be produced by permanent magnets, it would suffice.
There is a special kind of “permanent magnet.” It uses superconductors, which allow the flow of electricity with no resistance, the resistance is literally zero. ITER is planned to use superconductor magnets. The power used to create the field is stored. There would be, from that, no operating power. A full engineering consideration will look at peak power (it must be available!) — which includes input power, and it will look at operating power, and this will include “costs” such as maintaining the low temperatures for superconduction — but this varies with insulation, etc.
The primary issue, the goal of hot fusion research in general, is twofold, depending on the type of reactor. With a tokamak, it is maintaining confinement, without “plasma disruptions.” As well, a tokamak is designed to be a continuous reactor.
With inertial confinement reactors,
Looking for information about the “16 megawatts of fusion power,” I find it difficult to obtain. Searching for details is a strong journalistic function, but Krivit is so obessed by “lies” that he is satisfied with only a few details.
After explaining that most JET experiments have been done with deuterium, instead of a deuterium-tritium mixture, showing that the JET goal is not power production but studying plasma behavior and how it may be controlled, they have:
We have however run three tritium campaigns. During the second one, in 1997, JET produced a peak of 16.1 megawatts fusion power, with fusion power of over 10 megawatts sustained for over 0.5 seconds. In other pulses in the same experimental campaign, a more stable configuration was held for nearly 5 seconds, producing continuous power around 4.5 megawatts.
A fourth tritium campaign is planned for 2015. We have recently upgraded the heating systems, so we hope to better that world record!
Nobody who knows anything about the science and history of controlled fusion thinks that this is close to commercial application. The researchers are obviously enthusiastic, and they have earned the right to it. Those were, indeed, world records. “Fusion power” has a specific meaning in that context, but even that meaning would take explanation and clarification. Is that measured heating power, or is it inferred? (Probably the latter, in fact.) This simply means that they set up a “continuous” plasma that lasted for a over a half-second, with peak fusion power of 16 MW. That was probably ignition, though that page is not clear. It would depend on cooling rate! Then, in another run around the same time, they produced 4.5 MW for 10 seconds. That is more net energy than the other claim. It indicates control of the plasma for 10 seconds, a major accomplishment for plasma hot enough to generate significant fusion.
4.5 MW for 10 seconds is 45 MJ. There are LENR experiments that have generated that much energy, as I recall. If, of course, it was correctly measured. The power was far lower, but sustained for far longer periods of time.
To my mind, it’s clear that adequate support for LENR research has been missing, and it is still small, compared to the potential. Without that research, it cannot be clearly predicted if LENR will ever be practical, but funding for hot fusion research has been, probably, more than a hundred times greater. The promise of practical power with LENR, though, is much more inviting, if it can be done. The Low Energy conditions would likely allow small-scale power generation. Hot fusion generates copious neutrons, dangerous in themselves, but more significantly which create radioactive materials; it appears, so far, that LENR does not create dangerous levels of radioactivity.
Krivit may be thinking of hot fusion as an enemy of LENR. That is a disempowering view, because it will create enemies. Cold fusion has enough difficulties obtaining funding without encouraging the forces that act to protect physicists from funding disruptions to lobby and politic against LENR. Hot fusion research might possibly be a dead end, but I would hope that the research conclusively answers the issue, just as LENR research should properly have been continued, from 1989-1990 until answers were definitive, instead of merely a weak conclusion, “we have not found conclusive evidence,” a judgment made after a way-premature inquiry, and then, later, in 2004, a divided panel that nevertheless was unanimous that further research should be continued into fundamental questions, a conclusion with which I am in complete agreement. Where I would differ from the review is that the majority position seemed, from comments, to be inadequately informed as to what had already been done. Sometimes it is assumed that if papers were placed in front of a panelist, that they read and understood them! To create understanding in a short time requires extensive interaction and communication validation, which was not done with the 2004 U.S. DoE panel on LENR.
Here, Krivit has — as noted — a valid point, a certain possible unclarity of communication in the promotion of ITER, but then mixes it with his favorite poison.