The Energies of Today and Tomorrow
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THE ENERGIES OF TODAY AND TOMORROW
Florian Petrescu, Bucharest Polytechnic University, Bucharest, ROMANIA
Victoria Petrescu, Bucharest Polytechnic University, Bucharest, ROMANIA
ABSTRACT: Renewable energy is energy which comes from natural resources such as sunlight, wind, rain, tides, and geothermal heat, which are renewable (naturally replenished). In 2008, about 19% of global final energy consumption came from renewables, with 13% coming from traditional biomass, which is mainly used for heating, and 3.2% from hydroelectricity. New renewables (small hydro, modern biomass, wind, solar, geothermal, and biofuels) accounted for another 2.7% and are growing very rapidly. The share of renewables in electricity generation is around 18%, with 15% of global electricity coming from hydroelectricity and 3% from new renewables. This paper aims to disseminate new methods of obtaining energy. After 1950, began to appear nuclear fission plants. The fission energy was a necessary evil. In this mode it stretched the oil life, avoiding an energy crisis. Even so, the energy obtained from oil represents about 66% of all energy used. At this rate of use of oil, it will be consumed in about 40 years. Today, the production of energy obtained by nuclear fusion is not yet perfect prepared. But time passes quickly. We must rush to implement of the additional sources of energy already known, but and find new energy sources. In these circumstances this paper comes to proposing possible new energy sources.
KEY WORDS: New energies, renewable energy, electron energy.
Energy development is the effort to provide sufficient primary energy sources and secondary energy forms for supply, cost, impact on air pollution and water pollution, mitigation of climate change with renewable energy.
Technologically advanced societies have become increasingly dependent on external energy sources for transportation, the production of many manufactured goods, and the delivery of energy services. This energy allows people who can afford the cost to live under otherwise unfavorable climatic conditions through the use of heating, ventilation, and/or air conditioning.
All terrestrial energy sources except nuclear, geothermal and tidal are from current solar insolation or from fossil remains of plant and animal life that relied directly and indirectly upon sunlight, respectively. Ultimately, solar energy itself is the result of the Sun's nuclear fusion. Geothermal power from hot, hardened rock above the magma of the Earth's core is the result of the decay of radioactive materials present beneath the Earth's crust, and nuclear fission relies on man-made fission of heavy radioactive elements in the Earth's crust; in both cases these elements were produced in supernova explosions before the formation of the solar system.
Wind power is growing at the rate of 30% annually, with a worldwide installed capacity of 158 gigawatts (GW) in 2009, and is widely used in Europe, Asia, and the United States. At the end of 2009, cumulative global photovoltaic (PV) installations surpassed 21 GW and PV power stations are popular in Germany and Spain. Solar thermal power stations operate in the USA and Spain, and the largest of these is the 354 megawatt (MW) SEGS power plant in the Mojave Desert. The world's largest geothermal power installation is The Geysers in California, with a rated capacity of 750 MW. Brazil has one of the largest renewable energy programs in the world, involving production of ethanol fuel from sugar cane, and ethanol now provides 18% of the country's automotive fuel. Ethanol fuel is also widely available in the USA, the world's largest producer in absolute terms, although not as a percentage of its total motor fuel use. While many renewable energy projects are large-scale, renewable technologies are also suited to rural and remote areas, where energy is often crucial in human development. Globally, an estimated 3 million households get power from small solar PV systems. Micro-hydro systems configured into village-scale or county-scale mini-grids serve many areas. More than 30 million rural households get lighting and cooking from biogas made in household-scale digesters. Biomass cookstoves are used by 160 million households.
2. MAINSTREAM FORMS OF RENEWABLE ENERGY
2.1. Wind power
Airflows can be used to run wind turbines. Modern wind turbines range from around 600 kW to 5 MW of rated power, although turbines with rated output of 1.5–3 MW have become the most common for commercial use; the power output of a turbine is a function of the cube of the wind speed, so as wind speed increases, power output increases dramatically. Typical capacity factors are 20-40%, with values at the upper end of the range in particularly favourable sites .
Among sources of renewable energy, hydroelectric plants have the advantages of being long-lived—many existing plants have operated for more than 100 years. Also, hydroelectric plants are clean and have few emissions.
2.3. Solar energy
Solar panels generate electricity by converting photons (packets of light energy) into an electric current. Strano's nanotube antenna boosts the number of photons that can be captured and transforms the light into energy that can be funneled into a solar cell.
The antenna consists of a fibrous rope about 10 micrometers (millionths of a meter) long and four micrometers thick, containing about 30 million carbon nanotubes. Strano's team built, for the first time, a fiber made of two layers of nanotubes with different electrical properties -- specifically, different bandgaps.
In any material, electrons can exist at different energy levels. When a photon strikes the surface, it excites an electron to a higher energy level, which is specific to the material. The interaction between the energized electron and the hole it leaves behind is called an exciton, and the difference in energy levels between the hole and the electron is known as the bandgap.
The inner layer of the antenna contains nanotubes with a small bandgap, and nanotubes in the outer layer have a higher bandgap. That's important because excitons like to flow from high to low energy. In this case, that means the excitons in the outer layer flow to the inner layer, where they can exist in a lower (but still excited) energy state.
Therefore, when light energy strikes the material, all of the excitons flow to the center of the fiber, where they are concentrated. Strano and his team have not yet built a photovoltaic device using the antenna, but they plan to. In such a device, the antenna would concentrate photons before the photovoltaic cell converts them to an electrical current. This could be done by constructing the antenna around a core of semiconducting material.
The interface between the semiconductor and the nanotubes would separate the electron from the hole, with electrons being collected at one electrode touching the inner semiconductor, and holes collected at an electrode touching the nanotubes. This system would then generate electric current. The efficiency of such a solar cell would depend on the materials used for the electrode, according to the researchers.
Strano's team is the first to construct nanotube fibers in which they can control the properties of different layers, an achievement made possible by recent advances in separating nanotubes with different properties.
While the cost of carbon nanotubes was once prohibitive, it has been coming down in recent years as chemical companies build up their manufacturing capacity. "At some point in the near future, carbon nanotubes will likely be sold for pennies per pound, as polymers are sold," says Strano. "With this cost, the addition to a solar cell might be negligible compared to the fabrication and raw material cost of the cell itself, just as coatings and polymer components are small parts of the cost of a photovoltaic cell."
Strano's team is now working on ways to minimize the energy lost as excitons flow through the fiber, and on ways to generate more than one exciton per photon. The nanotube bundles described in the Nature Materials paper lose about 13 percent of the energy they absorb, but the team is working on new antennas that would lose only 1 percent .
Biomass (plant material) is a renewable energy source because the energy it contains comes from the sun. Through the process of photosynthesis, plants capture the sun's energy. When the plants are burned, they release the sun's energy they contain. In this way, biomass functions as a sort of natural battery for storing solar energy.
Liquid biofuel is usually either bioalcohol such as bioethanol or an oil such as biodiesel.
Bioethanol is an alcohol made by fermenting the sugar components of plant materials and it is made mostly from sugar and starch crops. With advanced technology being developed, cellulosic biomass, such as trees and grasses, are also used as feedstocks for ethanol production. Ethanol can be used as a fuel for vehicles in its pure form, but it is usually used as a gasoline additive to increase octane and improve vehicle emissions. Bioethanol is widely used in the USA and in Brazil .
2.6. Geothermal energy
The geothermal energy from the core of the Earth is closer to the surface in some areas than in others. Where hot underground steam or water can be tapped and brought to the surface it may be used to generate electricity. Such geothermal power sources exist in certain geologically unstable parts of the world such as Chile, Iceland, New Zealand, United States, the Philippines and Italy. The two most prominent areas for this in the United States are in the Yellowstone basin and in northern California.
2.7. Tidal energy
Tidal power can be extracted from Moon-gravity-powered tides by locating a water turbine in a tidal current, or by building impoundment pond dams that admit-or-release water through a turbine. The turbine can turn an electrical generator, or a gas compressor, that can then store energy until needed. Coastal tides are a source of clean, free, renewable, and sustainable energy.
2.8. Hydrogen obtained by artificial photosynthesis
Artificial photosynthesis is a research field that attempts to replicate the natural process of photosynthesis, converting sunlight, water, and carbon dioxide into carbohydrates and oxygen. Sometimes, splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen by using sunlight energy is also referred to as artificial photosynthesis. The actual process that allows half of the overall photosynthetic reaction to take place is photo-oxidation. This half-reaction is essential in separating water molecules because it releases hydrogen and oxygen ions. These ions are needed to reduce carbon dioxide into a fuel. However, the only known way this is possible is through an external catalyst, one that can react quickly as well as constantly absorb the sun’s photons. The general basis behind this theory is the creation of an “artificial plant” type fuel source. Artificial photosynthesis is a renewable, carbon-neutral source of fuel, producing either hydrogen, or carbohydrates. This sets it apart from the other popular renewable energy sources — hydroelectric, solar photovoltaic, geothermal, and wind — which produce electricity directly, with no fuel intermediate.
As such, artificial photosynthesis may become a very important source of fuel for transportation. Unlike biomass energy, it does not require arable land, and so it need not compete with the food supply.
Since the light-independent phase of photosynthesis fixes carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, artificial photosynthesis may provide an economical mechanism for carbon sequestration, reducing the pool of CO2 in the atmosphere, and thus mitigating its effect on global warming. Specifically, net reduction of CO2 will occur when artificial photosynthesis is used to produce carbon-based fuel which is stored indefinitely.
2.9. Blacklight power
Beginning in 1986, Dr. Randell L. Mills developed the theory on which the BlackLight Process is based. In 1989, the original patent applications were filed and the conclusions of the theoretical work were published. Dr. Mills believes that he has succeeded with the unification of gravity with atomic physics. In 1991, Dr. Mills founded HydroCatalysis Power Corp. to pursue the development and ultimate commercialization of a new form of energy - the HydroCatalysis Process. In the fall of 1996, the Company's name was changed from HydroCatalysis Power Corp. to BlackLight Power, Inc. to reflect the ultraviolet light emission produced by catalysis in the renamed BlackLight Process. In 1999 the Company moved to its present location, a 53,000 square-foot research facility, in Cranbury, NJ, and has since expanded its employee base to 25 people.
Based on physical laws of nature, Dr. Mills' theory predicts that additional lower energy states are possible for the hydrogen atom, but are not normally achieved. They are not normally achieved because transitions to these states are not directly associated with the emission of radiation, thus the ordinary hydrogen atom, as well as lower energy hydrogen atoms (termed hydrinos), are stable in isolation. Mills' theory further predicts that hydrogen atoms can achieve these states by a radiation-less energy transfer with a nearby atom, ion, or combination of ions (a catalyst) having the capability to absorb the energy required to effect the transition. (Radiation-less energy transfer is common. For example, it is the basis of the performance of the most common phosphor used in fluorescent lighting.) Thus, the Company believes hydrogen atoms can be induced to jump to a lower energy state, with release of the net energy difference between states. Successive stages of collapse of the hydrogen atom are predicted, resulting in the release of energy in amounts many times greater than the energy released by the combustion of hydrogen. Since the combustion energy is equivalent to the energy required to liberate hydrogen from water, a process, which takes water as a feed material and produces net energy, is possible. The equivalent energy content of water would thus be several hundred to several thousand times that of crude oil, depending on the average number of stages of collapse.
3. NEW METHODS OF OBTAINING ENERGY
3.1. Submarines power plants in the future
LONDON: A massive underwater river flowing along the bottom of the Black Sea has been found by scientists - a discovery that could help explain how life manages to survive in the deep oceans away from the nutrient-rich waters found close to land.
It is estimated that if on land, the undersea river would be the world's sixth largest in terms of the volume of water flowing through it. Researchers working in the Black Sea have found currents of water 350 times greater than the River Thames flowing along the sea bed, carving out channels much like a river on the land, the Telegraph reports. The undersea river, which is up to 115 feet deep in places, even has rapids and waterfalls much like its terrestrial equivalents. The scientists, based at the University of Leeds, used a robotic submarine to study a deep channel that had been found on the sea bed, and found a river of highly salty water flowing along the deep channel at the bottom of the Black Sea, creating river banks and flood plains much like a river on land. Dan Parsons, from the university's School of Earth and Environment, said, "It flows down the sea shelf and out into the abyssal plain much like a river on land. The abyssal plains of our oceans are like deserts of marine world, but these channels can deliver nutrients and ingredients needed for life out over these deserts. "This means they could be vitally important, like arteries providing life to the deep ocean. The key difference we found from terrestrial rivers was that as the flow goes round the bend, the water spirals in the opposite way to rivers on land," Parsons said. The undersea river, which is yet to be named, stems from salty water spilling through the Bosphorus Strait from the Mediterranean into the Black Sea, where the water has a lower salt content.
Installation of some turbines that generate electricity in the underwater river which flowing along the bottom of the Black Sea, could bring to Europe a large amount of cheap and clean energy.
3.2. Obtaining energy with alpha Stirling engines
We can try the Alpha Stirling Motors for to obtain energy from two locations with different temperatures, ground and underground for example.
3.3. We get energy from inside a volcano
We will install various pipes, serpentines, boilers, inside of some volcanoes, and by pumping the cold water in them we will obtain hot water to the outer.
3.4. Capture and keeping of the energy liberated by a lightning
The lightning has an power of 3000000000000W=3*1012 W=3*109 kW=3*106 MW=3*103 GW. Lightning is produced at Earth surface with an average of 300 kicks per second. If we could collect and keep all this energies, who are liberated by a single lightning, we could obtain 1-7 GJ=1-7 GWs/second, 1-7 GWh/hour=8760-61320 GWh/year.
The lightning can be attracted and retained by huge balls buried in the planet's surface, in places where are more frequent rains. The areas chosen should be as well insulated and removed, to prevent unauthorized access inside them.
3.5. Extracting energy from electron with a double high energy synchrotron
We can extract the energy of the rest mass of an electron. For a pair of an electron and a positron this energy is circa 1 MeV. The "synchrotron radiation (synchrotron light source)" produces deliberated a radiation source. Electrons are accelerated to high speeds in several stages to achieve a final energy (that is typically in the GeV range). We need two synchrotrons, a synchrotron for electrons and another who accelerates positrons. The particles must to be collided, after they are being accelerated to an optimal energy level. All the energies are collected at the exit of the Synchrotrons, after the collision of the opposite particles. We will recover the accelerating energy, and in addition we also collect the rest energy of the electrons and positrons.
At a rate of 10^19 electrons/s we obtain an energy of about 7 GWh / year, if even are produced only half of the possible collisions. This high rate can be obtained with 60 pulses per minute and 10^19 electrons per pulse, or with 600 pulses per minute and 10^18 electrons per pulse. If we increase the flow rate of 1,000 times, we can have a power of about 7 TWh / year. This type of energy can be a complement of the fusion energy, and together they must replace the energy obtained by burning hydrocarbons.
Advantages of the annihilation of an electron with a positron, compared with the nuclear fission reactors, are disposal of radioactive waste, of the risk of explosion and of the chain reaction.
Energy from the rest mass of the electron is more easily controlled compared with the fusion reaction, cold or hot.
Now, we don't need of enriched radioactive fuel (as in nuclear fission case), by deuterium, lithium and of accelerated neutrons (like in the cold fusion), of huge temperatures and pressures (as in the hot fusion), etc.
The fission energy was a necessary evil. In this mode it stretched the oil life, avoiding an energy crisis. Even so, the energy obtained from hydrocarbons represents today about 66% of all energy used. At this rate of use of oil, it will be consumed in about 40 years. Today, the production of energy obtained by nuclear fusion is not yet perfect prepared. But time passes quickly. We must rush to implement of the additional sources of energy already known, but and find new energy sources. In these conditions (3.5.) and (2.9.) are two real alternative sources of renewable energy.
The particle accelerators have a relatively young age. The particle accelerators must be put to work in the shortest time, they having so many possible applications. We can obtain energy with particle accelerators (see 3.5.). We can fly using particle accelerators .
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 Massachusetts Institute of Technology (2010, September 13). Funneling solar energy: Antenna made of carbon nanotubes could make photovoltaic cells more efficient. Science Daily. Retrieved September 21, 2010, from http://www.sciencedaily.com /releases/2010/09/100912151548.htm
 "Towards Sustainable Production and Use of Resources: Assessing Biofuels". United Nations Environment Programme. 2009-10-16. http://www.unep.fr/scp/rpanel/pdf/Assessing_Biofuels_Full_Report.pdf. Retrieved 2009-10-24.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Florian Ion PETRESCU
Senior Lecturer PhD. Eng. at TMR, UPB, Bucharest, Romania, Europe