The Best Alternative Technological Sources for Future Energy Needs
There is a wide variety of ways to generate the energy we need; some old and some new. There are many ways to fill our energy needs without using fossil fuels or nuclear energy.
Clearly the current methods of running industry, heating homes and transporting goods and people around the world are posing a serious threat on the ecosystem and now must be replaced by something else. Fortunately there are other ways of obtaining energy without ruining the planet and making life difficult or impossible. We should take the signs of global warming seriously and act on alternative sources of energy and give up fossil and nuclear based energy. What already exists is promising and needs to be pursued with vigor. Among these are; wind power, geothermal energy, tidal energy, infrared sources, geomagnetic sources, piezoelectric energy and radio wave energy.
Wind power is being increasingly used around the world, but it is not without controversy. Some people allege adverse health affects while living in proximity to windmills. Others complain of the noise. Windmills as they exist, do not work without a source of wind. There is however, a way to generate wind on our own to power a horizontally mounted windmill and this requires a wide chimney to exploit the stack effect to generate wind. Experiments have been done in Spain in other regions on this design and the stack powered windmills worked until decommissioned and torn down. The question is why was something like this torn down and left the field open for the less efficient vertically mounted windmill. It is good that wind power is being increasingly used, but there is much room for improvement.
Geothermic or geothermal energy is that which is sourced from the internal heat of the Earth and is put into use in heating homes or driving steam powered turbines. Geothermic energy has been proven effective and efficient, with one of the highest efficiency ratings that can be given to any energy conversion system. Many areas of the world are suitable for obtaining and using this energy, but most of them remain unused in favor of other sources such as fossil fuels, nuclear, hydro or wind energy. Geothermic energy where extracted has proven to be reliable over extended periods of time. Currently, this is the form of energy that is used in places like Iceland, the Philippines, California, Italy, Africa, New Zealand and many other places. Iceland boasts the highest percentile of its power production based on geothermic sources.
Some sources of this energy are natural, occurring around hit springs, like the ones found Near Harrison British Columbia, or in Yellowstone National Park in the US. Others can be created where there are known hot places near the surface of the earth, but are dry. Within the earth, near the source of heat, is a reservoir of water which gets super heated by the magma that is close by and supplying the heat, and the water then works its way to the surface in the form of hot water springs or geysers. Dry hot spots can be developed by injecting water into the hot zone and then tapping the heated water or steam to do what we want to generate power of to heat homes.
The best places for constructing geothermal plants are near the plate boundaries of the planet where large tectonic plates jostle and rub against one another on the lithosphere of the dynamic Earth. This natural tendency creates plenty of natural hot spots. This is one reason why Iceland is ideal, but the western coast of the Americas and eastern coasts of Asian are also ideal for similar reasons. The ideal spot is where super heated water or steam erupts from a hot spot below the surface. A power plant can be placed nearby to capture the steam and use it to power turbines for the generating of electricity. The steam can also be used to heat buildings directly without turning it into something else. The size of the power plant is limited only by the amount of the natural resource available. As it stands now, most natural sources of geothermal energy just vent into the air without being used.
There are almost two tidal pulses a day virtually over the extent of the planet with few exceptions. In some regions like the Bay of Funday, the tidal pulse is amplified by the surrounding land. The inrushing tide in these regions can be tapped to produce hydro energy. Anywhere where the tide pulse is funneled in a channel is an excellent candidate for sea driven hydro-electric power. As the tide goes in and out on a nearly twice daily cycle, the turbines can be designed to work in reversible fashion. The only non productive time would be when the tide was at standstills between maximum and minimum. But, as the tide times vary around the world, even in closely placed locations, this should not be a problem. Alternately, the waves of the ocean in regions where there are constant storms like the roaring 40s in the southern hemisphere can be tapped for a constant source of electric power.
Infrared Sources for Energy
Solar energy has seen a recent development with paint on solar cells that create electrical energy. It is now possible to derive power from infra red energy sources. These devices can work at night, on cloudy days and even from waste heat from buildings, cars and our own bodies. The basic principle of these infra-red solar cells is the same as that for visible light solar cells. The use of certain chemicals in combination captures photons that cause the release of electrons via the photo-electric effect and these can be directed to run circuits or collected in batteries or capacitors. Infra-red energy exists in abundance all around us and should be tapped for energy needs. As it stands now, almost all of the infra-red energy just vents into the environment and eventually into space.
Geomagnetic Energy Source
Another method of generating electric power is taking a mere loop of wire that is connected to a circuit and turning it in the geomagnetic field. A simple experiment will demonstrate that electricity can be derived from this means and no magnets are needed. Coupled with wind or water turbines, the wire loops can produce useable power without resorting to coal, oil or nuclear power. This is a real versatile and inexpensive source for generating plenty of on site power. Wire loops can even be imbedded in other systems like wind generators. There is a lot of talk about the failure of the geomagnetosphere, but the consensus is that the field is reversing and not disappearing. Thus using the geomagnetic field can still be used to create electrical power. In space, these ideas can generate electrical power in the solar magnetic field. Such a power generator can be incorporated right into the structure of a space station that rotates to create simulated gravity. The simple rotation can also produce power from the heliomagnetosphere.
Piezoelectric power has been around in many applications for a long time; in fact, well over a century. One can find them in use all the way back to Thomas Edison who used it in his first phonographs. They are still in use by anyone who is an aficionado of vinyl records like rappers who use them for the scratch background in their music. Piezoelectric have been used in microphones that are in common use everywhere. Did you know that piezoelectric have been used recently to power complete homes? Yes this is so and there are thoughts to expand this idea by placing hundreds of thousands of these generators under highways and dance floors, where a constant source of changing pressure is present to generate the power. The basic generator has been patented; US Patent # 6,655,035 as the piezoelectric generator. The abstract of the patent reads;
"A method of extracting electrical energy from mechanical motion includes reusing an elastic portion of energy in a transducer by transferring the elastic portion of energy to another transducer. An apparatus for extracting electrical energy from mechanical motion includes at least two transducers coupled such that an elastic portion of energy in one transducer is transferable to the other transducer. The transducers are coupled by a member defining a waved surface, and each transducer defines a coupler in contact with the waved surface for movement following the waved surface. Couplers of two transducers are positioned such that they move out-of-phase relative to each other. The transducers are bound to a plate positioned between members such that the plate is deformed. The plate and members are configured such that relative rotation there between produces a wave that travels along the plate."
In other words, when the generator is deformed, a charge of electrical impulse is produced and this can be collected or directly used as a source of electrical power. Typically, piezoelectric generators are small, which makes them ideal for installation where a lot of traffic drives over them or where people congregate like in malls and dance floors. A pilot project was able to power 40,000 homes by placing piezoelectric generators under the highways that cut through communities.
Radio Wave Energy
A simple child's toy that was popular in the 1940s and 1950s has demonstrated the potential of crystals to capture energy and convert it into electrical power for use in our technological applications. It is still available and is the source of fascination for contemporary enthusiasts. This toy is the once popular crystal radio that even today has a wide community of interest and development in the world and is easily available on the internet. The crystal radio is actually a kind of rectenna, converting radio frequencies into DC electrical power. A crystal radio captures radio waves and turns the modulated waves into electrical impulses that power speakers, producing voice and music for the user. Circuit designs exist that amplify the signals into useable levels of power that could be available for other applications. Crystal radios are usually tuned to nearby radio frequencies, but they could be as easily tuned to the sun, planets and the cosmos, just to produce power. Radio waves are another form of electromagnetic radiation like sunlight that can be captured by solar cells and responds to the photo-electric effect detailed by Albert Einstein in 1905. All of these remote sources produce radio waves in copious amounts. Between the radio station bands are regions of static that originate from the cosmos, lightning and the sun. In the early days of analog TV, the static manifested as "snow" interference with programming. Though not suppressed per se, crystal radio technology has not been actively pursued as an alternate energy source. As it exists today, crystals powered by radio frequencies could conceivably replace batteries for small devices like MP3 players, cell phones, digital cameras, electric toys and laptop computers. This would go a long way in stopping pollution from spent batteries winding up in the landfill and getting into the water table.
The above considerations can be already being done with off the shelf technology. We do not have to develop anything new and some of these devices have been around for several decades to over a century. So why are we not using these sources for power? The answer is found in mega corporations and the political powers that are in place to make certain that the profit of the owners is in no way threatened. These are the corporations that made sure that we became slaves to fossil fuels and nuclear power. But now the information and technology is now widely available and is well dispersed. Even if political powers are not rushing to correct our carbon impact, local regions and individuals are taking the lead and removing themselves from the carbon and nuclear grid. In fact, some produce a surplus that is added to the major grids.