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Alternative Energy Sources

  1. Oct 17, 2005 #1
    I would like you know everybody's general thoughts on alternative fuels, and aleternative energy.

    Personally, I think ethanol is a great thing and I'm hoping it gets picked up by more manufacturers. Hydro-fuel cells also seem quite promising, being more efficient and not producing hazardous emissions themselves. Windmills probably won't do us a whole lot of good.

    Please, I beg of everybody to keep your answers concise. There's no precise questions - just post your thoughts in general (things you would like to say).
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 17, 2005 #2
    actually, Wind Turbines will do us a whole lot of good. if sufficiently deployed, they can replace all our energy needs.

    Hydrogen is a battery, nothing else. we need to put energy into producing hydrogen. so, in order to use it, we need a power source and to make it clean, it needs to be a clean power source.

    I also like Solar. They have new plastics that are photovolaic and are 1/10 the price of silicon based PV cells.

    THorium based Nuclear reactors would be fantastic as well.

    anyway,m the major challenge is getting off oil.
  4. Oct 17, 2005 #3


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    Wind turbines tend to use up huge quantities of land, and they are a holocaust for birds. If produced and run in mass quantities humans don't know how it would effect the environment.

    Why? I'm also surprised you treat it like an illegal drug. Like getting off meth.
  5. Oct 17, 2005 #4
    I'd like to see a bunch of new fission reactors to lower our fossil fuels consumption. As a short-term solution.
  6. Oct 17, 2005 #5


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    I as well, I also think funding for nuclear fusion research should be increased.
  7. Oct 17, 2005 #6
    Mercedes and honda have built a small fleet of hydrogen powered cars so it shouldnt be too long til hydrogen powered cars are on the market.
  8. Oct 17, 2005 #7
    I think we should use all available means, wind, solar, methane production and perhaps tidal power, and convert everything to hydrogen for energy storage.
    I like the idea of each part of the country exploiting the means best suited to it's climate. The Pacific Northwest, for instance, would do best with methane, whereas the southwest could be strong in solar.
    My preference for how to harvest solar power is not photovoltaic, but as heat to generate steam.
    In all this, some better means of utilizing our waste is desirable: methane from sewage and organic waste, and some means of utilizing combustible trash.
  9. Oct 17, 2005 #8


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    I was reading about diesel cars adapted to run on used cooking oil. Apparently it works well. The diesel engine was originally designed to eun on peanut oil.

    Now your car exhaust can smell like Thai food or french fries, depending on what was cooked in the oil. :tongue:

    Grease Burning cars

    "Oct. 15, 2005 — Whenever James Nestor needs to fill the tank of his diesel Mercedes, he doesn't go to a filling station and pay $3 a gallon; he visits his favorite Indian restaurant in downtown San Francisco and gets takeout — free jugs of used cooking oil."

  10. Oct 17, 2005 #9


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    I'm not too sure about tidal power myself... I don't know too much about it, but the ecological cost of damming an estuary, and the effects of disrupting sediment input to adjacent coasts (think coastal erosion) could be quite extensive.
  11. Oct 17, 2005 #10
    You may be right. I haven't looked very deeply into tidal power in realistic terms. It strikes me as having great potential simply from living on the coast here, and seeing enormous quantities of water moving back and forth every day.
  12. Oct 17, 2005 #11


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    We could always harvest mechanical energy by putting battery chargers on everything that moves. I'm sure that would hardly make any difference, though.
  13. Oct 17, 2005 #12


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    I was having a conversation with one of my professors today and we were discussing such things. He says that wind will NEVER go beyond 30% of our needs. Nothing is going to replace our needs entirely. We'll kinda end up where we are now, 20% for this, 10% of that, 50% that, 10% of this, 5% of that, 5% of this. Hopefully that 50% would be nuclear fission since fusion isn't happening for a while.

    Hell, no one wants to live near a nuclear reactor... but what the hell else are we going to do? That's what people need to learn. It's not a perfect solution but hey, no one promised a perfect solution.
  14. Oct 17, 2005 #13
    We could build solar panels on Mercury, and just tether a really long cable between our two planets.

    More realistically, it seems that a resurgence in cheap public transportation is in order. What's the deal with those mag-lev trains? It seems that if those were popularized in America, it could save alot of people alot of time and money in the long run.
  15. Oct 17, 2005 #14
    Our family has photovoltaics and we love'em. They require a lot to produce, but in the end produce far more --- net gain is they are about 30% the "cost" (petroleum products etc) as more conventional energy sources.

    We're also big on "reduction." We grow as much food as we can, to reduce on shipping and packaging of food etc. While this "solution" isn't what you have in mind when you say alternative energy, it is tangentially related.
  16. Oct 17, 2005 #15


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    What happens when the Sun is between Mercury and Earth?

    We could always try breeding genetically engineered super electric-eels and farming them for energy.
  17. Oct 17, 2005 #16
    The best place for fission power plants would be in the wide open western deserts, but fission plants use too much water. Does anyone know if they could be cooled with salt water?
  18. Oct 17, 2005 #17
    Cooling nukes with seawater

    Why? Do turtles require a lot of electricity?

    Diablo Canyon and San Onofre are both located on the seashore because they are cooled exclusively with seawater.


    See the Know Nukes discussion group for more information:
  19. Oct 17, 2005 #18


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    ..... they use too much water.... are you serious...
  20. Oct 17, 2005 #19


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    How many of the reactors are actually still online today?
  21. Oct 17, 2005 #20
    SONGS Unit 1

    Diablo Canyon Units 1 and 2 are both still online (and are both considered the most technologically advanced reactor units ever built in America) and San Onofre Units 2 and 3 are both still online. San Onofre Unit 1 was an older (Generation 1) reactor design. It was retired in the 90's because maintenance costs were piling up and because it made sense to decommission it before the San Onofre employees who were experts on that particular reactor unit retired.
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2005
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