Burning fossil fuels has served us well, providing us with way more power then our muzzles could produce. It made some people extremely rich, was a key motivation in many wars, and poluted our world. Luckily; most of the easy fosile: oil, coal, and gas, is now gone. Now we have to quickly switch to better alternatives.
Are there alternatives? Yes there are!
We are surrounded by energy. In a way, the whole earth is energy.
Energy, a force that can make a change.
Without energy, everything would stand still. No motions, no sounds, no temperature, no thoughts. Even more so; atoms are made up of energy, somehow. "Without energy" has to include the removal of all matter. What is left after removing all energy? Just empty space! (.. there is word of empty space being a highly dense kind of
energy ..). Conclusion: we are energy, and we are submerged in a sea of energy.
But, if everything is energy, then why do we have to pay money for energy?
Well, I guess the answer to that question is: because we are kind of stupid still.
We are like fish that don't realize the existence of water.
Right now I am inside my house, and have the lights on, while there is sunlight outside. These lamps are powered by electricity, an alternating current of electrons, generated by a large powerstation far away from my house. Power stations transfer heat into motion, and that motion into electricity. That heat comes from burning stuff -a chemical reaction, or sometimes from a nuclear fission reaction. The power station near my location burns mostly coal, if I am not mistaken. This coal is being mined somewhere far away, destroying that location in the process. Then the coal transported to the powerstation. That is a lot of work, big financial deals are being made, and for all that we have to pay money.
How energy-efficient is that procces?
It's bad. It costs a lot of energy to mine and transport the coal, and the transportof the waste that didn't poluted the air. It also costs a lot of energy to build and maintain the powerstation, a powergrid, and what not. I'm not going to try calculating how much energy is lost, but I guess that at least 90% of all the energy that goes into the process is lost, wasted!
If my house was designed better, I would not have to turn on the lights, because there is a massive amount of natural daylight outside right now.
We should make everything more energy efficient. If we'd be serious about it, we could drastically reduce our power consumption, without reducing the power available to us.
But becoming more energy efficiënt, and shifting to the tradition alternative energy options will not be enough. I'm sure that we will come up with some incredible power hungry applications in the near future, that will use like as much energy in one month, as all the oil there ever was on Earth. Think of for example: recycling atoms by plasma separator, gravity altering space propulsion, fighting asteroids, making the deserts green again, supporting too many people, image walls, artificial intelligence, robots, flying cars, and what have ya. Where are we going to get all that energy from?
Good news: we are surrounded by energy! Everything seems to be energy. We just have to get smart about how to get it, and how to store it.
Well known alternative energy sources:
- Wind. Above land, above water, and high in the sky.
- Sunlight. On land, on water, high in the sky, and in space.
- Water waves. On sea, maybe on lakes.
- Water flows. From land to sea, alternating tidal flows, deep sea flows.
- Burning biomass (plants, algae)
- Heat from the Earth's core (we should not use this large scale though, because it may in the long run disrupt the flow of magma inside the Earth, destroying the Earth's magnetic field, bringing our protective shield down).
Less known alternative energy sources:
- Nuclear fusion (still out of reach)
- Sweet water rivers running into salt sea water.
- The difference in temperature between day and night.
Alternative alternative energy sources:
- Radio waves. We are submerged in a sea of radio waves, naturally and man made.
- Temperature, We are submerged in a sea of temperature, vibrations of molecules.
- Neutrino wind. This wind is always blowing and present everywhere. Get a grip on that.
And good news: these lists of alternative energy sources are incomplete.
At school you may have learned that it is only possible to harvest energy if there is a difference in for example heat. If one area is hot and another area is cold, then you can get energy out of it. If both areas are of the same temperature, it is impossible to get energy out of it.
That is kind of so, though not entirely true.
For one because there is a thing called time. If all of the surrounding has a temperature of 20ºC, at day time, then wait a while until it is night, when all of that surrounding cools down to 10ºC, then there you have a temperature difference of 10ºC. If you can gather and store
the heat of daytime, a stirling engine or such heat engine can run on a heat difference at night. And if you can loose a lot of heat at night, that same engine can run on the cold of night at daytime.
Another thing is: getting energy out of random motion.
It is possible to harvest energy from a random source. Getting energy out of water waves for example, is already being done.
Transforming the random motions of radio waves or temperature into useful energy is a challenge, because the motions of radio waves and vibrating molecules are extremely tiny and fast. But once we know how to build an apparatus that can harvest this energy, we can put that in a box, call it a "heat energy transformer" and place it anywhere we want. In an aircraft for example: no need to take fuel on board! One in your car, one in you house, ...
Temperature energy is almost everywhere, even when it is cold.
For example; it is freezing outside, all of the surrounding air
is minus 20ºC. You may except there to be no energy available what so ever. Well, temperature is the motion of molecules, motion is energy, and minus 20ºC isn't the coldest possible. The absence of temperature is at zero degrees Kelvin, equal to minus 273.15 degrees Celsius. Air at minus 20ºC still contains a lot of heat energy, as -20ºC is equal to +253.15 K.
"The joule (symbol J), is a derived unit of energy, work, or amount of heat in the International System of Units. It is equal to the energy expended (or work done) in applying a force of one newton through a distance of one metre, or in passing an electric current of one ampere through a resistance of one ohm for one second".
One joule = the heat required to raise the temperature of 1 g of water by 0.24 Kelvin
1 joule = 0.00027778 watt-hour
1 watt hour = 3600 joule
Free energy from warm water.
1 cubic meter water at 20ºC, taking the energy out of that, to the point that its temperature has dropped 10ºC. How much energy could that give you?
The density of liquid water is 1000 kg/m3
20ºC = 293.15 K
10ºC = 283.15 K
293.15 - 283.15 = 10 (oh, same difference as in Celcius)
0.24 = 41.67 Joules per kg water
41.67 * 1000 = 41666.67 Joules per kg/m3 water
41666.67 * 0.00027778 = 11.57 watt-hour
A LED light of 11.57 Watt
can in theory be on for one hour, if it can use all the heat energy taken out of 1 cubic meter water, when reducing its temperature 10º Celcius.
If a heat energy collector in your house has access to more and warmer water, then the power available to you increases. If you for example have access to 100 m3 water per hour, of 25º C, and if you cool it to 5ºC, then you could in theory get 2314 Watt out of it, all the time!
Note: the water can circulate between a heat collector, and the heat energy tranformer.
Do I know how to transfer the random vibration of molecules into useful energy?
No I don't. Not yet.
Remember Kung Fu Panda? When Po's master Shifu says, something like this:
Master Shifu: "Do you want to eat this dumpling? (steamed baozi)"
Panda Po: "Yea, I'm hungry"
Master Shifu: "You may have it, you are free to eat."
Panda Po: "Really? No tricks?"
Master Shifu: "Yes, you are free to eat. Take it -if you can."
(note: I recommend this movie. One of the best animations made.)
The goal of my writing is to plant a seed, to make you aware of the abundance of free energy sources. Energy is all around us. It is free. You may take it -if you can.
Bottom line: We are surrounded by energy. Go and get it. Share how.