Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Nuclear fusion: "Historical progess" in US lab

Source Le Monde:  

“A historic breakthrough. A US public laboratory on Tuesday (August 17th) congratulated itself on having produced more energy through nuclear fusion than ever before.

The experiment, which took place Aug. 8 at the National Ignition Facility (NIF) in Calif., "Was enabled by the concentration of laser light," no less than 192, "on a target the size of a lead "of hunting, explains a press release. This had the effect of "producing a hot spot the diameter of a hair, generating more than ten quadrillion watts through fusion, for 100 trillionth of a second. "That's eight times more energy than in the last experiments carried out in the spring.

Nuclear fusion is considered by its supporters as the energy of tomorrow, in particular because it produces little waste and no greenhouse gases. It differs from fission, a technique used in nuclear power plants today, which involves breaking the bonds of heavy atomic nuclei to recover energy.

Fusion is the reverse process: we “marry” two light atomic nuclei to create a heavy one. In this case two isotopes (atomic variants) of hydrogen, giving rise to helium. It is this process that is at work in the stars, including our Sun.

"This breakthrough puts researchers very close to the ignition threshold," the statement said, when the energy produced exceeds that used to cause the reaction. Preparations are already underway to reproduce this experiment, which will take "several months", reports the press release, which specifies that detailed data will be published in a scientific journal.

“This result is a historic breakthrough for inertial confinement fusion research,” said Kim Budil, director of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, on which the NIF depends.

“The NIF teams have done an extraordinary job,” commented Professor Steven Rose, Co-Director of the Center for Research in this area at Imperial College London. "This is the most significant advance in inertial fusion since its inception in 1972."

"Transforming this concept into a renewable source of electrical energy will probably be a long process and will involve overcoming significant technical challenges," however tempered Jeremy Chittenden, co-director of the same center in London.

In France, the international ITER project also aims to control the production of energy from the fusion of hydrogen. Reactor assembly began a year ago in Bouches-du-Rhône.

Friday, August 6, 2021

Nord Stream 2: will Gazprom start blackmail manoeuver to bypass EU regulation?

 While an agreement on the completion of the contentious pipeline has been found some energy and geopolitical observers spot ominous signs of suspicious shortening of gas.

While there is no more reasonable doubt about the imminent completion of Nord Stream 2 EU law requires unbundling, meaning: gas producer and pipeline operator must be dissociated. However both, producer and pipeline operator, are ultimately Gazprom-owned.

Experts see foul play of Gazprom to obtain an exemption, writes BILD:

Are millions of Germans threatened by a cold winter because Russia's ruler Vladimir Putin is using his natural gas as a weapon against us?

The dispute over the Russian gas pipeline Nord Stream 2 is escalating dramatically: There are increasing signs that the Kremlin is putting the pistol on Germany's chest so that the pipeline can start operating.

The status today: Nord Stream 2 AG - a wholly owned subsidiary of the Russian state-owned company Gazprom - wants to finish construction work on the tube this month. Shortly afterwards, Gazprom plans to route gas through the pipeline, which is to be delivered primarily to Germany, Austria and the Czech Republic.

Nord Stream 2: Republicans comdemn agreement

 WELT reports:

After giving the green light to the completion of Nord Stream 2, the US government is walking a fine line: Washington argues that the controversial gas pipeline project is a “bad deal” for Ukraine and the rest of Europe.

The small, subtle difference to the previous attitude: one is acting “pragmatically”, and since the construction is almost complete, it is a matter of getting the best out of the Ukraine. It was in this spirit that an understanding was reached with Berlin. Conclusion: Berlin and Washington have not settled their long-standing dispute, the fundamental differences of opinion have not been cleared out of the way. You defused your transatlantic squabbles on your own.

The government of President Joe Biden speaks of “significant differences of opinion” when looking at Nord Stream 2, and of clear opposition to the 1,200-kilometer-long pipe project that is to carry gas from Russia through the Baltic Sea to Lubmin near Greifswald. But when Biden moved into the White House six months ago, 90 percent of the German-Russian pipeline had already been completed, argues Washington. Biden's people are trying to pass the buck to ex-President Donald Trump. He had verbally attacked Nord Stream 2, but was unable to do much against the building. In addition, companies and ships that are involved in the construction have been sanctioned, according to the US government.

So now it's about mitigation. The German-American agreements are intended to help prevent Ukraine from falling victim to the pipeline. Berlin and Washington want to pump money into Ukraine, for example for alternative energies, but above all for greater energy independence from archenemy Russia. A “Green Fund for Ukraine” has been agreed, with at least one billion dollars available for investments. Berlin initially pays in 148 million euros.

Nord Stream 2: USA and Germany reach agreement

After month long negotiations Germany and the US came to a compromise on the approach towards the contentious Nord Stream 2 pipeline. In particular the case of the sanctions against germany companies involved in the construction and the safeguard of Ukraine's interest as a gas transit country.

Read the reporting in german newspaper WELT:

The US and Germany have reached an agreement that allows the controversial Nord Stream 2 pipeline to be completed without the imposition of new US sanctions. State Secretary Victoria Nuland said this to the Foreign Affairs Committee of the US Congress on Wednesday.

Both governments plan to announce details of the agreement shortly. Washington and Berlin have agreed to impose sanctions on Russia and German companies if Moscow should use the pipeline as a political weapon, said the third highest US diplomat.

The federal government had previously expressed confidence that an agreement would soon be reached in the dispute with the USA over the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline. The financial news agency Bloomberg and the "Wall Street Journal" had reported, citing sources in Berlin and Washington, that an agreement had been reached.
In the agreement, Germany promises Ukraine additional financial aid of a good 200 million euros. Berlin wants to fund bilateral energy projects in Ukraine with around 70 million euros, especially in the field of renewable energies and energy efficiency, as stated in the agreement published on Wednesday.