Electricity, the warm current…..

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Reading from my previous post, this leads us to today. I spoke about the fact that all we do as far as working with methods of electrical generation is looking at different way to make things spin. It is the fact that when something spins, we can surround it with a coil of wire, and attach a magnet to the spinning object. This will induce a current into the coil of wire. Unfortunately for humanity, we look at only ways to make things spin. We do not look at something more fundamental: another method of making an electrical current.

This, I will look into in the final techpost, talking about the future of electrical generation. For now I will look at where we stand today. A few of the technologies I will look at are: Fossil fuel, nuclear, solar, wind, tidal.

When nuclear power broke out post-World War II, people immediately noticed the possibilities. Some saw bombs, others saw electricity. It was possible to set off a nuclear reaction that would produce a large quantity of heat, and the output was controllable with special rods that would trap neutrons, preventing them from colliding with another uranium atom. This would reduce the overall neutron-uranium collisions, and thus reducing the overall output of heat. Basically everything after the uranium/control rod apparatus was the same. The heat was used to evaporate water into steam which would force a turbine to spin, producing electricity. There are many uses of nuclear power and the technology was rushed into a production phase. This was the era of the Cold War, where the Americans were building higher and higher yield nuclear weapons, while the Soviets were doing much the same. People say that war, cold or hot is a detriment to society. I say that without wars, society becomes stagnant. The majority of human advancements have come from hardships. Necessity is the mother of all inventions. Antibiotics, nuclear power and rockets are but a few of the many rewards from war. Looking post World War 2/Cold War, you can see that the advancements become slower and less grand. Post Cold War, we see the rise of bureaucracy which stagnates investment into more far-fetched technologies. Patents are being bought up by major corporations with one intent: to stagnate development in order to milk every possible dollar from each piece of technology.

As with everything that can/should be changed, there are politics beind it. Nuclear power is a viable source of electricity. You can produce a large amount of power for your citizens and the amount of pollution is absolutely negligible assuming proper disposal on nuclear waste. People are afraid of nuclear power due to being frightened by the media from past catastrophes such as Chernobyl and 3-mile island. Technology has advanced enough to use other forms of nuclear material, reducing waste and reusing it in other reactions. But the majority of people still pale in fright when their city looks at nuclear power as an option. What must be drilled into society’s head is a possible accident is better than a guaranteed death at the hands of global climate change.

If the government were to look at relying on nuclear power for a large portion of their electrical needs, this would set an example to the industry to follow suit and become more conscious of the earth and the position we’re in.

Another way to pave the way to slow down, halt or even reverse global warming, is other power sources.

Wind has been looked at. A few countries even have wind farms to provide electricity. These countries, unfortunately have a very small population and/or only rely on it for a very low amount of their total electrical production. Wind farms rely on a steady amount of wind, as soon as the weather calms, wind becomes useless.

There has been one leap as far as electrical generation is concerned. This one came from Albert Einstein who studied the photo-electric effect. The first solar cell was developed by Charles Fritts in the 1880s. Einstein was the one who truly explained the fundamentals of how electricity was generated from light hitting the surface of certain materials. The downside to photo-voltaic cells is the fact that it is extremely inefficient, and also, it is very expensive. Lately, like wind power, some places are popping up some solar farms. These are relatively low powered farms and like wind, is dependent on the climate. As soon as you get some clouds, the power drops drastically.

There are many advancements in that front including storing thermal energy into salt crystals for later use. Salts have a really high melting temperature due to their incredibly stable atomic orientation and make for great thermal batteries.

Solar power has been studied extensively. Even to the point that a brain child of the Club of Rome, called the Trans-Mediterranean Renewable Energy Corporation have looked at its feasibility. For 400 billion dollars paid over 30 years, the EU could have all of the power it needs. This comes with 2 bonuses. Extremely low carbon and drinking water for the region.

There are a few more alternative energy sources, such as tidal, wind, wave, and hydro that use nature’s kinetic energy to move a turbine and produce electricity. Using biofuel, biomass, etc are for using nature’s combustible material, this leaves a bad carbon footprint.

People have become more conscious of global warming, and many people are looking to make a positive contribution as time has gone on. During the industrial revolution, air pollution was at an all-time high, and living conditions were horrible as opposed to today.

Electricity is something that humanity cannot be without. Unfortunately if we don’t look to different methods of generation, it may also be our undoing. This seems kind of fatalistic, but sadly, it is the truth.

One Response to “Electricity, the warm current…..”

  1. […] onto here for current timeframe. Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)LOL there is no such thing […]

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