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Future of Energy

March 20, 2017

You are already familiar with solar power, wind power, and even hydro power. However, when it comes to the future of energy, those renewable power sources soon could be old news.

 

Scientists and engineers are now building mashup versions of the renewable sources we are using today with the goal of generating power with even greater efficiency and sustainability. That is not all. Work is continuing on fusion energy, and scientists are exploring ways to harness energy from space. Check out the video above, and/or read the transcript below for four promising sources of energy that may power our future.

 

Space based solar energy power

 

 

 

 

Sun doesn’t shine all day long on the surface of planet Earth, unless you keep switching from poles. Summers show max sunlight exposure to the northern pole and vice versa. The sun shines eternally in the outer space, so why not plant some solar panels up there and beam the energy down to Earth! Sounds crazy but Paul Jaffe from Naval Research Labs wants to do. He has developed the technology and all that’s left is the feasibility study on this system.  I personally spoke to Mt Jaffe and he is optimistic about the idea and says it soon could be reality, by strategically placing these transponders we can supply Earth with unlimited power.

 

Human powered

 

If you guys have seen Black Mirror episode "Fifteen Million Merits”, the second episode of the first series, In this world, everyone must cycle on exercise bikes in order to power their surroundings and generate currency called Merits. Everyday activities are constantly interrupted by advertisements that cannot be skipped or ignored without financial penalty.

 

Obese people are considered to be second-class citizens, and either work as cleaners around the machines. Who knows our grand kids could end up with this kind of situation. That may be a little aggressive, but Princeton University engineers have developed a device that may change the way that we power many of our smaller gadgets and devices. By using out natural body movement, they have created a small chip that will actually capture and harness that natural energy to create enough energy to power up things such as a cell phone, pacemaker and many other small devices that are electronic.

 

Tidal power

 

For a decade there was a big hype on Tidal energy, but looks like the hype didn’t ride the energy wave. Sadly the area is ignored and not in priority, not much innovation and tech advances have happened in this field, as Solar and Wind took the limelight.

 

The potential energy that could be harvested from tidal movements on a global scale is enormous. It is estimated that around 1 terawatt of exploitable power is stored in the world’s oceans. This would be enough to power 10 billion 100-watt lightbulbs at once. Thanks to new technology, a number of tidal energy options have now surfaced; ready to transform the way we generate energy for our growing demands.

 

Hydrogen

 

We all have done the electrolysis of water experiment in school, so we know hydrogen can be easy cut away from water molecule and combusts with emission of energy (unless you skipped school or were a back bencher). Hydrogen has the highest energy density among all other fuel sources known to man, it is abundantly available, it’s easy to produce, when burnt it just gives out water as output then why aren’t we using it! Why are we not saving our planet just yet?

 

 

Fuel cells cost a lot, it’s not commercially viable. Compared to gas, diesel, or electric options, hydrogen distribution and fueling will be more expensive, lose a lot of hydrogen, be harder to use, be dangerous in a way people aren’t familiar with, and won’t deliver any environmental benefits to speak of. Yet major automotive vendors and some politicians continue to speak in favour of it.

 

Hydrogen Is The Slipperiest Molecule In The Universe, Hydrogen escapes, with distressing ease and speed, anything which isn’t built to extraordinary tolerances. Expanding a complete distribution network to tolerances a couple of orders of magnitude above those required for gasoline is expensive.

 

All of the arm waving in the world doesn’t get around the reality that the only industrial source of hydrogen is steam reformation of natural gas, and that hydrogen vehicles will have about 15% higher CO2 emissions than diesel engines per 100 km.

 

According to a 2001 NREL full lifecycle assessment, the total CO2 emissions for a kilogram of hydrogen produced from natural gas is 11.9 kg, with 25% of total emissions coming from process, storage and transport.

 

As for fuel cells, fuel cell cars are electric, but they rely on built-in fuel cell technology as a source of electricity instead of batteries. Fuel cells are currently too cost-prohibitive to be competitive, but they are far more efficient (and hence more promising) than hydrogen combustion engines. Still, coming in several times more expensive (or even 10 times more expensive) than battery-electrics makes them impractical financially. May be in the near future new materials, process innovation and different approach can revive this source of clean fuel!

 

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