Energy - Powering homes

Since nobody has invented the Shizuma drive yet, let us consider the current and future technology that will solve our domestic energy needs.

I’ve been looking at cogeneration solutions to supplement my solar panels. Maybe combine it with biodiesel production? I’m already heating with propane so why not try to get that to pull double duty? Or I could switch to a fully renewable energy source with sufficient carbon offsets.

Also been thinking about wind turbines or wind/hydro combined.

Personally, though, I really want backyard nuke plants. A tiny self-contained reactor buried in the yard that could power the house for 100 years? Any day now please.

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They exist. They only last ~10 years and are shockingly inefficient. Russia used these “nuclear batteries” to power lighthouses and other random nonsense.


With nuclear, I don’t really see this as a bad thing. Oh no! Only 10% of the energy from the plutonium is going to power the house, the rest is just heating the nuclear pool!

So what? If you’re burning petroleum, then yeah that’s trash because the remaining 90% is pollution for the atmosphere. For nuclear, like… That thing’s gettin’ replaced in 10 [Citaton needed] years no matter how efficient it is.

Same waste, same externalizes.

It can be as inefficient as it damn well pleases. Unless by efficiency you mean… something other than efficiency.

The problem is it takes a huge amount of energy to mine, refine, and deploy these resources. The less efficient uses of them make them energy net negative.

They’re used for their reliability and longevity. They are not environmentally viable nor are they net positive. Not like big scale proper reactors.


Also do you want your bad neighbors that don’t maintain their house responsible for making sure a nuclear device is inspected and serviced regularly?

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Oh I see, you meant production vs extraction energy comparison rather than the energy efficiency.

Yeah that makes sense and likely is a good reason for not doing this.

Wonder how the production vs extraction energy comparison works out for like a nuclear powered submarine.

It’s moot. The sole consideration of a nuclear submarine is its operational requirements. The only value of that kind of nuclear reactor comes from the lack of maintenance requirements, lack of fueling requirements, and extreme power/volume ratio.

They are not practical in any way except for the very narrow and specific application of a submarine as a weapon of war.

A larger nuclear reactor is always better than a nuke sub’s reactor. The latter is an extreme min/max with a huge downside and zero upside (except, again, for the operational purposes of an underwater weapon of war).

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I mean, I’m talking about a largely fantasy device anyway, so ideally it would be minimal maintenance. Something that my idiot neighbors couldn’t fuck up.

Plus I already entrust my idiot neighbors with death sleds and firearms and small-scale explosives and the vote, so like, tiny nuke plant is actually not that consequential in comparison.


Honestly, I’m less worried about the neighbors, than who built their houses. I’m competent at house maintenance, I keep things clean and in good repair, doesn’t change the fact that half the doors downstairs in this place were hung so badly that over time, they’ll spit out the hinge pins, or the fact that the entire electricity supply for two fucking buildings was running through a 4mm temporary patch for 4 years, despite the original electrician signing off on it as correct, because he couldn’t be arsed to replace it with the proper cable. It is a literal fucking miracle this place hasn’t burned to the ground.

And that is EXACTLY who I think of when I think of home nuclear generators - not the bad homeowner fucking it up, but the incompetent or even just lazy builder fucking it up in ways that 99% of homeowners wouldn’t even think to check. A metaphorical time-bomb that could get ANYONE, not just people who aren’t doing the right thing.


Micro-hydro is really nice but it has extremely finicky site requirements. You have to have a big enough stream with enough drop and you probably shouldn’t fully dam the stream. Also you may have permit issues. A former co-worker had one that he put in in the 70s - it provide all his power with some deep cycle lead acid batteries. It was also fully in the woods on his property and I don’t think any inspector or permitor had even heard about it :slight_smile:

Major issue for your coworker or their heirs if they ever go to sell the property.

Yeah, that’s the biggest problem for me. It’s why I’m leaning more towards wind turbines - maybe some small roof-mounted ones just to supplement what I already have. That’ll take some investigation to determine cost-benefit. I do have the land to do a more significant installation though - maybe like a 30 meter tower with a 5 kW turbine - so we’ll see.

So while I was fairly aware that Fusion still has massive ways to go before ever being a potential viable source of human energy generation, this video clarifies a point that I wasn’t fully aware of and maybe some here are also not fully clear on.

TL:DW as far as I understand it: the numbers being given by physicists for fusion efficiency of the reactions are in no way looking at the total reactor system energy consumption for a given amount of power generation duration, and they to an even greater degree ignore the total energies required to build and operate these facilities regardless of whether they are generating power or not.

Nor are they even looking at the actual usable electrical output from the reaction for the output which makes it even worse; from what I gather its just the raw energy of the plasma generated.

In my non scientific opinion, the idea of fusion as a technology is as feasible as time travel.

I will be happy to be proved wrong.

But why fusion works, in nature, is the scale in density/ mass/ gravity.

To do this on a smaller scale, controlled, on Earth…

I can’t imagine the physics involved that would make it possible.

Fission is viable since we can refine and breed nuclear material.

How do you synthesise more gravity?

Electromagnets and super conductors, things that require the very energy that we’d like to harness.


Well im far from expert but its less about gravity and more about pressure. We can certainly create tiny pockets of extreme pressure and force atoms to fuse. So unlike time travel where no theory of even inefficiently pulling it off within the bounds of our universe truly exists… Generating some power from fusion is absolutely possible.

But you’re mostly right in that the challenge is generating more power than was used to generate it. And while there’s no physics limit I know of that conclusively says “impossible” it certainly is going to be a long road to find all of the tiny tricks and glitches in the fabric of spacetime and pushing the bounds of magnetism and superconducting magnets and so-on in order to finesse an efficient solution; or we’ll have some team come across some breakthrough concept that makes it stone simple but outside the current thinking.

Im confident that we may well see fusion powering specialty applications like remote facilities or space stations in places where fissile material is not so good and solar isn’t viable… But will it be a solution to our local home and industry power crisis? I used to think maybe in 20-30 years it can come in and start to pull us out, but now I dont think so.

We’re closer than it sounds like you think. We’ve had fusion reactors for decades. Getting above breakeven is the problem, but it’s an engineering problem.

ITER is going to come online in a few years, and is supposed to generate more energy than it uses.

Short term, we have a big fusion reactor that can give us all the power we need. We just need to put out enough solar panels.


If we don’t start working on the dyson sphere now, I don’t think we’ll finish it in time.