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The February Energy Update


The February Energy Update

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Steve Jones
Steve Jones
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Comments posted to this topic are about the item The February Energy Update

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John Chapman
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Yes, the gravia lamp looks cool, but let's have a simplistic look at the physics.
If we assume that the physical dimensions of the lamp allows a 10Kg (22lb) weight to be raised through 1 meter (about 1 yard) then the potential energy available is:

Pe = mgh (assume gravity of 10 m/s^2)
= 10 * 10 * 1
= 100 Joules

Assuming that even the most efficient light source possible would need to consume at least 1 watt to produce useful light and that the potential energy stored in the weight can be converted to electricity with an efficiency of 100%, then the light would operate for only 100 seconds before needing the weight to be raised again.

In reality, we can't convert at 100% efficiency and we need lots more than 1 watt to be useful, so even looking into the future, this idea isn't feasible.

Producing light is comparatively cheap (from an energy usage point of view). The real consumption hogs are heating and cooling.
Robert-377973
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What I don't understand is the idea behind biofuels.

When parts of the world are starving and the price of basic crops such as wheat are increasing (due to shortages?), what do we do? We grow crops to burn.

Hmm.
Steve Jones
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I'm not sure about biofuels myself. It's an interesting idea, essentially using solar energy over time to create fuels, but I think it does need to be managed.

I've heard that the US has more capacity for farming than we use, and either destroy crops to keep prices inflated or don't plant areas. That's a fundamental problem, but it's not easily solved without government managing this somehow. We certainly don't want farmers switching to biofuels and causing shortages.

The world hunger issues are other problems and I have no idea how to solve them. Some of that is developed countries helping others, some of it is the native governments not allowing help, probably other reasons. That's not one I have any idea how to solve.

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webrunner
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You might have seen news about this knee brace. It's not for protection, though that is probably a possibility. This one actually generates power, helping to recharge small electronics. Gives new meaning to the "talk all day" cell phone if you have one of these.


The knee brace also gives a twist to an old saying. The knee brace version: He walks the walk, so he can talk the talk....Hehe

webrunner

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majorbloodnock
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webrunner (2/28/2008)
You might have seen news about this knee brace. It's not for protection, though that is probably a possibility. This one actually generates power, helping to recharge small electronics. Gives new meaning to the "talk all day" cell phone if you have one of these.


The knee brace also gives a twist to an old saying. The knee brace version: He walks the walk, so he can talk the talk....Hehe


....suggesting it might be more appropriate for some people to have a version of the harness that generates power from the gluteus maximus instead. Whistling

Semper in excretia, sumus solum profundum variat
Feifarek
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I agree it is a bad idea to grow corn to make alcohol. But it is possible for biofuel generation to be beneficial: the idea would not be to grow crops specifically for converting them to energy, but to use the waste and by products of existing crops.

For example rice crops in California's Central Valley have the rice plant (stalks/leaves) burned in the fields, which creates lots of air pollution. If that material could be used as a fuel or converted into liquid fuel we'd be solving two problems.

There is also the current practice of converting waste cooking oils into biodiesel-- restaurants and food processors are going to have waste oil, the only question is does it get thrown away or used as fuel?

Brian



majorbloodnock
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Feifarek (2/28/2008)
I agree it is a bad idea to grow corn to make alcohol.


I wouldn't go that far, although I'd agree better using grapes...... BigGrin

Seriously, though, I agree with the rest of what you're saying. The answer isn't just a matter of finding a different source of energy, but instead a far more complex picture of how we (re)use a whole gamut of finite resources. Far more can be done to reuse and/or recycle waste and byproducts, and far more can be done to reduce our energy requirement in the first place. IMHO, both those are rather more important than finding an alternative substance to burn as engine fuel.

Semper in excretia, sumus solum profundum variat
Robert-377973
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Agree that using waste is a good idea - if it's going to be burnt then makes use of the process.

However, is there really enough waste to act as a replacement for oil? Gotta think not, so perhaps just a small part of the jigsaw.

How much carbon does it take to create a solar panel and how long before the benefits, in terms of carbon reduction, are achieved? A question I have wonder, but yet to research properly.

Someone once told me that creating a new car has a larger carbon foot print than the fuel it will burn its lifetime. Wonder how true that one is?

Sorry for the rambling/moaning/whatever you want to call it! I'm just feeling a little green today - as he sits in an air conditioned office with lots of lights on and a PC chucking out heat!!!

Perhaps we should all just go and live in a cave!!
GSquared
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Feifarek (2/28/2008)
I agree it is a bad idea to grow corn to make alcohol. But it is possible for biofuel generation to be beneficial: the idea would not be to grow crops specifically for converting them to energy, but to use the waste and by products of existing crops.

For example rice crops in California's Central Valley have the rice plant (stalks/leaves) burned in the fields, which creates lots of air pollution. If that material could be used as a fuel or converted into liquid fuel we'd be solving two problems.

There is also the current practice of converting waste cooking oils into biodiesel-- restaurants and food processors are going to have waste oil, the only question is does it get thrown away or used as fuel?

Brian


First, burning the rice plant puts exactly 0 net gain air pollution into the atmosphere. Why? Because the rice plant is made of materials that were synthesized out of atmospheric CO2 in the first place. Rice takes CO2 out of the air, uses sunlight, nitrogen and water to turn it into various proteins, carbohydrates, etc. In other words, the whole rice plant is just air, water and sunlight. Burning it adds nothing to the atmosphere that didn't come out of the atmosphere in the first place.

Second, bio-fuel production requires more fuel than is produced by it. Modern farming techniques require about a 10:1 ratio of energy input versus energy output. (Note, that's a vast improvement over prior centuries, but still entropic.) That means you have to burn approximately 10 gallons of bio-fuel to produce 1 gallon of bio-fuel. Or 10 gallons of petroleum diesel to produce 1 gallon of bio-diesel. So long as the ratio is entropic instead of negentropic, that will still apply. All in all, bio-fuel actually produces more pollution than petroleum fuels.

Third, there just aren't enough McDonald's, etc., in the world to produce enough waste grease to power even a small city of cars. (Add in some teenage faces, and you might get closer, but even that isn't enough.Smile )

All of this has been in recent headlines and scientific articles. Well ... except the part about teenage faces. I think that comes from Mad Magazine.

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