A Future For Humanity

It is obvious to many that the world is headed for at least one major calamity. Some only see global warming, others also foresee things such as pole shifts or other major movements of the Earth's crust with their attendant seismic events. But even normal warfare is frequently a calamity, and should also be kept in mind.

No matter the cause, it would seem wise to collectively take measures designed to ensure the best possible chances of survival of the human race. This may seem overly dramatic, however there is good reason to worry.
A large portion of humanity currently lives in cities, and cities are very vulnerable to disaster.
Consider that cities rely upon centralized power, gas, and water supplies, any or all of which can fail in dire times.
Failure of power generation facilities probably will also mean failure of centralized water supplies, which rely frequently on electric motors to power pumps. Increased seismic activity could also result in dams rupturing so that there simply isn't any water.
Failure of water supplies leads to poor hygiene, which in turn leads to disease. Disease that hospitals will find hard to deal with, given that they already have neither power nor water.

It seems that the heart of the problem lies in the centralization of facilities. This also points the way to at least a partial solution - decentralization. If individual homes had their own power supplies, independent of the grid, then grid failure would not instantly knock out society. With sufficient capacity, it would even be possible for individual homes to distill their own fresh water in an emergency, especially if distillation equipment based upon semi permeable membrane technology were widely adopted.

This solution is however predicated upon the existence of individual power generation capability.

Home based generators need to meet a number of requirements, if they are to remain useful in a long duration emergency, i.e.
one lasting one or more years.

As I see it, these requirements are (in no particular order):

  • High reliability, and consequent low maintenance.
  • True independence, i.e. they should not rely upon a piped fuel supply such as natural gas, or at the very least they should also be able to operate on a supply that is portable, such as bottled gas. Ideally, they would not require any fuel delivery at all, or at least not more often than annually. This latter is going to require the introduction of technology that is either completely new, or at least not yet in widespread use.
  • Both initial installation cost, and operating costs should be minimal. This will ensure rapid and widespread adoption.
  • Safety. The units should not produce any toxins or radioactive by products, and ideally should not have any locally stored fuel that could be subject to fire or explosion. Any dangerous operating parts should be well protected, and only available for maintenance when special measures are taken (i.e. should be behind locked panels).
  • Environmental impact should be as low as possible, and preferably zero, both during normal operation, and when the unit is disposed of at the end of its normal operating life.
  • Silent operation (or as nearly so as possible).
  • Efficiency - they should operate ideally with 90% or greater efficiency in the conversion of their fuel into electrical energy, or at least should be combined power/heating units that supply home heating, hot water, and electric power. This will ensure that current environmental problems are alleviated to some degree.
  • For certain technologies it may be desirable to locate the actual unit outside the home, so weather proofing would be needed.
  • Needless to say, there are no widely accepted current technologies that meet all of these requirements. There are however  some that meet many of the requirements, and there also others that have either been neglected, or not yet fully developed. Some of these would perhaps be better suited to use in many local "sub-stations", where public access can be limited.

    Existing technologies:

  • Fuel cells
  • Internal combustion engines
  • External combustion engines (both steam engines and Stirling engines)
  • Solar cells
  • Wind turbines
  • Small scale hydro (not applicable in most cases)
  • Automobile (install rollers in the garage that can be driven by the car's wheels, and connected to a generator). This technology while primitive, would be easy to install on a large scale, and in a short time frame, as a means of providing emergency power. Just drive the car on to the rollers, rev the engine until the correct voltage is being generated, and engage the cruise control.
  • Home Power magazine specializes in existing technologies

  • Neglected technologies (numbers are patent numbers):

  • Magnetohydrodynamics (MHD)
  • US4395648 (Marks-Ericsson ETD)
  • GB763062   (nuclear battery)
  • US4835433 (nuclear battery)
  • US5111099 (nuclear battery)
  • US4489269 (nuclear battery)
  • US3767947 (nuclear battery)
  • US3934162 (nuclear battery)
  • US4160927 (nuclear battery)
  • US4428193 (probably based on new physics; see below)
  • US3980053 (probably based on new physics; see below)
  • US5208844 (based on new physics; see below)
  • US5018180 (based on new physics; see below)
  • US3977191 (probably based on new physics; see below)
  • Potential technologies based upon new physics that should be explored:
  • Mills' Hydrinos (See also variation)
  • Cold Fusion
  • Santilli's Magnegas
  • Charles Cagle's advanced fusion design
  • Romag
  • Rory Johnson motor
  • Sweet device
  • Zero Point Energy (ZPE) based devices
  • Ambient thermal energy conversion
  • Clearly what is needed is an international effort, with investigation of all of the above being done concurrently, but distributed across the globe. Advances would be distributed immediately to the world by means of web pages, which are kept up to date by the respective research organizations. All web pages would have a URL specified by a single central page on the UN web site.