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Old
11-15-2012, 12:57 PM
  #1
Oilbleeder
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Alternative/Renewable Energy discussion

I thought we could have a thread about a topic that should be key topic in the news in the next few years.

In this thread I thought we could discuss anything to do with this subject.

What's some of the latest research? What are your personal beliefs on Alternative energy? What do you think will work or is key? What do you think won't work?

Anything on this topic, I hope you guys use this thread for it.

As a Mod, I should make a note: I know this is a touchy subject in ways, so if we could keep this thread civil, I'd be much appreciated. Hopefully we can have some good discussion on the subject in this thread.

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11-15-2012, 01:06 PM
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In recent news:

Algal Biofuel:
http://blog.cleantechies.com/2012/11...-gas-stations/

Quote:
The fuel, known as Biodiesel B20, contains 80 percent petroleum and 20 percent algae grown by San Francisco-based Solazyme. The fuel is produced in a fermentation process at Solazyme’s Illinois plant that combines sugar with an organism company officials will not identify. According to the company, the new fuel blend produces 30 percent fewer particulates, 20 percent less carbon monoxide, and 10 percent fewer hydrocarbons than other biodiesel fuels.
Novel way to split water molecules could lead to more efficient solar power?:
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases...olar+Energy%29
Quote:
Using the power of the sun and ultrathin films of iron oxide (commonly known as rust), Technion-Israel Institute of Technology researchers have found a novel way to split water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen. The breakthrough, published this week in Nature Materials, could lead to less expensive, more efficient ways to store solar energy in the form of hydrogen-based fuels. This could be a major step forward in the development of viable replacements for fossil fuels.

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11-15-2012, 01:57 PM
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ever since I first heard of it I thought it was really cool

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/8586046.stm

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Old
11-15-2012, 03:25 PM
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I'm not too educated on this topic so take what I say with a grain of salt.

I'm under the impression that while alternative energy is neat and Eco-friendly and all that, there isn't much practicality to it. Again, just what I've heard but I hear that Solar and Wind Power can't replace coal and natural gas. It's too expensive and we'd need miles and miles of windmills and/or Solar Panels to adequately replace natural gas and coal.

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11-15-2012, 04:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by xX Hot Fuss View Post
I'm not too educated on this topic so take what I say with a grain of salt.

I'm under the impression that while alternative energy is neat and Eco-friendly and all that, there isn't much practicality to it. Again, just what I've heard but I hear that Solar and Wind Power can't replace coal and natural gas. It's too expensive and we'd need miles and miles of windmills and/or Solar Panels to adequately replace natural gas and coal.
Return on investment for most renewable sources isn't nearly as high as with fossil fuels... especially true when you consider the complete lack of infrastructure behind these new sources, and the massive infrastructure that exists to produce and deliver oil, coal, and gas.

If there were an already-existing cost-efficient deployment method for renewable energy technologies I suspect we would see a lot more of them in everyday life; currently though I think the barrier to entry is just too high.

Wind Power is actually catching on here in Indiana, the closest one to me, when fully complete is expected to be able to generate enough energy to power up to a quarter million homes. That sounds like a lot, but it will also be one of the largest wind farms in the entire world...

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11-15-2012, 06:57 PM
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Did a short research presentation on this start-up a little while ago:
www.generalfusion.com

It's an experimental magnetized target fusion reactor based in Burnaby, BC. A classmate of mine worked there a few summers ago.

This info is on the site, but he basic idea (iirc) is that the tritium plasma is injected into the centre of a heavy water lithium vortex, which is compressed from the exterior of the chamber.



Obviously this is pretty speculative, but fusion is almost definitely the endgame, so it's worth watching development.

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11-16-2012, 10:17 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by xX Hot Fuss View Post
I'm not too educated on this topic so take what I say with a grain of salt.

I'm under the impression that while alternative energy is neat and Eco-friendly and all that, there isn't much practicality to it. Again, just what I've heard but I hear that Solar and Wind Power can't replace coal and natural gas. It's too expensive and we'd need miles and miles of windmills and/or Solar Panels to adequately replace natural gas and coal.
While I won't delve into the argument of whether or not it can 100% replace fossil fuels (I don't believe it can either, just to stop someone snapping), it's this line of thought that will leave us completely reliant on a non-renewable energy source, sitting on our ***** doing nothing while the world falls apart.

No energy source is perfect. If we don't take the time and invest the money to better the infrastructure used in these sorts of energy sources, we will forever be sitting here critiquing them rather than utilizing them.

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11-19-2012, 10:49 PM
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http://www.androidauthority.com/goog...d-farm-132384/

Google invests $75M in wind farm, part of $1B into renewable energy.

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11-19-2012, 11:58 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by xX Hot Fuss View Post
I'm not too educated on this topic so take what I say with a grain of salt.

I'm under the impression that while alternative energy is neat and Eco-friendly and all that, there isn't much practicality to it. Again, just what I've heard but I hear that Solar and Wind Power can't replace coal and natural gas. It's too expensive and we'd need miles and miles of windmills and/or Solar Panels to adequately replace natural gas and coal.
This is technically true but also short sighted. As they are most of these 'green' technologies aren't nearly as efficient as coal or gas, but they're also probably a good century behind in terms of infrastructure and R&D, not to mention politics.

For example much of the efficiency loss in solar energy I believe is because it costs an enormous amount of energy to create the solar panels. Same thing with hybrid cars, they use far less gas but the electric batteries they use are a huge environmental concern. But the key point to remember is that we haven't come close to exhausting the many different innovations and inventions to improve the method. Right now they're basically like old truck engines that run at 8 miles to the gallon. Tons of things can still happen to get that mileage up.

For example, contributing to the thread here's a neat idea the Japanese have come up with for wind turbines.

Basically the common wind turbine looks like this:



And the Japanese did this:



They wrapped an aerodynamic loop around the structure creating a sort of wind tunnel, creating a significant jump in power production. Their claims in the article says it triples the efficiency, all that from simply adding an extra ring to the structure.

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11-20-2012, 08:20 AM
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I think the true energy revolution would involve finding a new way of harnessing power without having to spin a turbine.

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11-20-2012, 11:01 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kingsholygrail View Post
I think the true energy revolution would involve finding a new way of harnessing power without having to spin a turbine.
That's the truth.

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11-20-2012, 12:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RandV View Post
And the Japanese did this:



They wrapped an aerodynamic loop around the structure creating a sort of wind tunnel, creating a significant jump in power production. Their claims in the article says it triples the efficiency, all that from simply adding an extra ring to the structure.
That's pretty incredible. Something as simple as adding a cowling (turning it into a ducted fan instead just spinning blades) boosts performance that much. I wonder if you could angle the cowling out on both sides to catch/funnel more air through the blades.

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11-20-2012, 03:44 PM
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I'm far from an energy expert, but I feel like that despite our dependence on oil, alternative and renewable energies, at this point at least, are not a long-term solution. There's still a lot of work needed to determine what energies will and will not work or be viable and that I don't see it as government's role to force these energies on us.

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11-20-2012, 04:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by puckguy11 View Post
I'm far from an energy expert, but I feel like that despite our dependence on oil, alternative and renewable energies, at this point at least, are not a long-term solution. There's still a lot of work needed to determine what energies will and will not work or be viable and that I don't see it as government's role to force these energies on us.
I really hate those government mandated solar-powered cars, lemme tell ya.

Government is subsidizing lots of these, but I think it's a pretty far stretch to say its forced. I think consumers are starting to demand green energy in small numbers, and I know some individuals out there have successfully moved off the grid and are self-sufficient as far as their energy needs.

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11-20-2012, 05:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by puckguy11 View Post
I'm far from an energy expert, but I feel like that despite our dependence on oil, alternative and renewable energies, at this point at least, are not a long-term solution. There's still a lot of work needed to determine what energies will and will not work or be viable and that I don't see it as government's role to force these energies on us.
Actually it completely is.

Electricity and aggregate development is the role of the government. The government spends massive subsidies on the distribution of electricity, research and development, the extraction/production of energy, and the infrastructure needed for all these things to work on a mass level.

Oil companies benefit from massive subsidiaries, not just direct transfers, but in all the funding that the government provides in building an energy infrastructure. In fact, in most countries many energy companies are actually state-run monopolies.

Energy has never been something the private sector can supply alone because of the inherent economies of scale in the industry.

------

Additionally, these new technologies are not the absolute long-term solution, but they are definitely part of the long-term solution.


Last edited by guest1467: 11-20-2012 at 05:24 PM.
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11-20-2012, 05:42 PM
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Fusion is always fun to discuss, even though it's perpetually over the horizon.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/michaelk...-fusion-power/

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11-20-2012, 05:47 PM
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I've got high hopes for tidal power. If you site it well it very rarely stops producing power, unlike wind.

Also Scotland could be the Saudi Arabia of European tidal power. The volume of the North Sea travels through the Pentland Firth every day....twice. That's a hell of a lot of energy which we could tap in to.

Just looked it up and the estimated capacity is around 27GW. Scotland currently uses 6GW.

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11-20-2012, 05:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RandV View Post
And the Japanese did this:



They wrapped an aerodynamic loop around the structure creating a sort of wind tunnel, creating a significant jump in power production. Their claims in the article says it triples the efficiency, all that from simply adding an extra ring to the structure.
This really interesting, the reduction of noise is a huge hump to get over for Wind Power.

The one thing I'd be interested in seeing is the effect this has on birds. A major campaign against Wind turbines is the high bird mortality rates. Altering the structure to create a more powerful wind tunnel would likely increase the rates.

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11-20-2012, 11:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cheesesteak Invictus View Post
Fusion is always fun to discuss, even though it's perpetually over the horizon.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/michaelk...-fusion-power/
As Unaffiliated said, I do think fusion will be the end game. Problem is, as you said, it's perpetually over the horizon. I don't know as much as I would like to about fusion, but what exactly is the biggest set back for fusion?

I personally have hopes for Solar energy, but the efficiency of that seems to be the biggest problem (or that's what I understand, someone correct me if I'm wrong).

I do wonder how long it will take us to explore and embrace an alternative energy source. Infrastructure is lagging, and the politics is quite intense.

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11-21-2012, 12:19 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kingsholygrail View Post
I think the true energy revolution would involve finding a new way of harnessing power without having to spin a turbine.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Photoelectric_effect

Over 20 years old.





The "true energy revolution" is coming whenever fusion finally gets here.

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11-21-2012, 12:43 AM
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As Unaffiliated said, I do think fusion will be the end game. Problem is, as you said, it's perpetually over the horizon. I don't know as much as I would like to about fusion, but what exactly is the biggest set back for fusion?
By far the biggest is that we can't get more energy back from fusion than we put in to start it right now.




There are also other things. For example:
Virtually all fusion reactor designs use deuterium and tritium as fuel, which are heavy isotopes of hydrogen (they contain neutrons). A neutron is released during fusion.




The neutron radiation (the flying neutron above coming out of the reaction) can and will combine in some part with the reactor material, inducing radioactivity.

So if your reactor is made of steel, the steel becomes radioactive eventually. Then you have to have some good method of storage for the radioactive reactor material.




That being said, there is no danger in a fusion reactor of a meltdown, like in a fission reactor (Chernobyl, Fukushima, The Simpsons power plant, etc.). There is no chain reaction: when the reactor is breached, the fusion fuel will lose its compression and heat and fusion will stop.




I could easily write past the character limit, but it's easier to just check wikipedia, which is very accurate in cases like this.

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11-21-2012, 01:58 AM
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I've been using geothermal energy for years for my house.
I've been using very few electricity because of it, and I have a huge house. The heat in winter is very nice (comes from the ground).

I don't see how people with a little field/garden don't do that. It saves an awful lot of money and the heating in winter is great.

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11-21-2012, 07:00 AM
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I've been using geothermal energy for years for my house.
I've been using very few electricity because of it, and I have a huge house. The heat in winter is very nice (comes from the ground).

I don't see how people with a little field/garden don't do that. It saves an awful lot of money and the heating in winter is great.
Once I'm sure I've settled in an area, I'm planning on buying a house and using that technology. It's another possibility that's being looked at for wider scale energy generation. Deep geothermal energy capture. It'll never run out and is about as predictable as you can get. Iceland have been using it for years. One of the most respected Universities here are looking into possible places to site it to help us meet our target to supply 100% of electricity demand with renewable energy in Scotland by 2020.

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11-21-2012, 09:07 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by puckguy11 View Post
I'm far from an energy expert, but I feel like that despite our dependence on oil, alternative and renewable energies, at this point at least, are not a long-term solution. There's still a lot of work needed to determine what energies will and will not work or be viable and that I don't see it as government's role to force these energies on us.
The government hasn't forced anything on me (well there's the 10% ethanol requirement, but that's not a big deal to me), they are investing in all potential alternatives, because that's what they [B]must[B] do for the research to happen. Plus, the construction of wind/solar farms put a lot of people to work. Historically speaking, private industry does not spend much time on the cutting edge. That's typically done through publicly funded research. Truly cutting edge research/exploration is not an economically sound investment, as no one knows the end result. Publicly funded research finds the core aspects of the sciences, then private industry comes in and finds applications for a concept and ways to improve efficiency on a system/product to make it profitable. Right now, we are still at the "figuring it out" stage when it comes to alternative energy sources.

Here's a quick vid on it (he's speaking directly about space exploration, but the idea is the same).



And here's a short essay on the topic, from CERN.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Some Highlights
Those who make fundamental discoveries generally do not reap the benefits –the laws of nature cannot be protected and the applications are too long-term and unpredictable– and the cultural and educational benefits do not generate direct profits.

Quantum mechanics led to modern electronics and lasers, but even with the benefit of hind-sight, investment in the research which led to quantum mechanics would not have been a good commercial investment; the underlying knowledge could not have been protected, the time-lag was too long and the results too unpredictable.

Whenever profit is easily foreseeable, industry will invest and governments can generally stay away, although they can play some role e.g. by encouraging contacts and collaboration between industry and universities. Much of applied research is therefore the responsibility of industry. However, the situation is not entirely clear cut, since whether applied research will lead to direct profits is not always predictable, e.g. research on heart disease could lead to patentable drugs, or to the need for a better diet and more exercise. Furthermore, public funding of applied research on topics such as the environment or issues affecting transport policy is obviously necessary.


Last edited by TasteofFlames: 11-21-2012 at 10:28 AM.
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11-21-2012, 09:48 AM
  #25
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Im curious to see if any advances come in human energy in the near future- i think people might be a tremendous potential energy source, that's renewable as well, of course.

Plus Im sure you could find more than a few fat guys willing to primp themselves out as a human battery.

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