Gravitational Energy by breaking down volcanoes / mountains?

In summary, there are several ideas for alternative sources of hydropower, including building artificial water courses and using mountains and their soil/rocks instead of water. However, these ideas have practical limitations and potential consequences that need to be considered before implementing them.
  • #1
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For centuries we have been using the gravitational potential energy of water courses by building watermills and dams with hydroelectric plants. The weather does the job of bringing the water back 'upstairs' for free so conceptually that's a wonderful energy source. The problem is (I guess) that we have far too few convenient water courses to produce the required energy output.

From here, several ideas arise:

1) what about building artificial convenient water courses? Study were there is a lot of precipitation on high altitude areas, in geographically convenient areas (altitude gradients etc) and build huge water lakes to be used for hydroelectric energy production (rather than just using naturally occurring water courses).

2) force / accelerate the water flow by melting the snow from very high permanently snowed mountains such as the Himalayas, for example using solar mirrors to warm up the snow. I guess that this would not alter the natural equilibrium significantly, since the cold and new snow precipitations would restore the melted snow?

3) what about using mountains and their soil / rocks instead of water? Very simply stated, imagine we build a huge ramp from the top of a mountain to the deepest point in a sensibly close distance. Then we put a bulldozer on the top of the mountain which gradually breaks down the stuff at the top of the mountain and throws it into the ramp, where it would fall and could be used similarly as water to power some kind of turbines.

4) of course that would have no natural mechanism bringing the stuff back to high altitude (unless we wait millions of years for mountain rising), but volcanoes do naturally raise 'stuff' from the Earth up. If a similar system would be placed near the top of an active volcano, just far enough from the erupting crater to avoid the whole thing getting melted, that could also be a possibility.

Probably crazy?
 
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  • #2
Gerinski said:
For centuries we have been using the gravitational potential energy of water courses by building watermills and dams with hydroelectric plants. The weather does the job of bringing the water back 'upstairs' for free so conceptually that's a wonderful energy source. The problem is (I guess) that we have far too few convenient water courses to produce the required energy output.

From here, several ideas arise:

1) what about building artificial convenient water courses? Study were there is a lot of precipitation on high altitude areas, in geographically convenient areas (altitude gradients etc) and build huge water lakes to be used for hydroelectric energy production (rather than just using naturally occurring water courses).
If you think building a dam is expensive, try building a river instead.

It doesn't really matter that much where the hydropower is generated. That's why electricity is so convenient: the power generated in a plant can be transmitted thru power lines for great distances, so everyone doesn't have to build a power plant or dam in their backyard.

2) force / accelerate the water flow by melting the snow from very high permanently snowed mountains such as the Himalayas, for example using solar mirrors to warm up the snow. I guess that this would not alter the natural equilibrium significantly, since the cold and new snow precipitations would restore the melted snow?
The top of a mountain is a pretty difficult place to install a bunch of mirrors. And the weather there is not always sunny and clear.

3) what about using mountains and their soil / rocks instead of water? Very simply stated, imagine we build a huge ramp from the top of a mountain to the deepest point in a sensibly close distance. Then we put a bulldozer on the top of the mountain which gradually breaks down the stuff at the top of the mountain and throws it into the ramp, where it would fall and could be used similarly as water to power some kind of turbines.
And what do you do when all the mountains are laid flat? Not to mention that avalanches are hard to extract energy from without wrecking your machinery.
4) of course that would have no natural mechanism bringing the stuff back to high altitude (unless we wait millions of years for mountain rising), but volcanoes do naturally raise 'stuff' from the Earth up. If a similar system would be placed near the top of an active volcano, just far enough from the erupting crater to avoid the whole thing getting melted, that could also be a possibility.

Probably crazy?

The only problem with the volcano approach is that all that rock and stuff is what keeps the lava, you know, in the volcano in the first place. Once you take the mountain away, the lava flows out and cools, and there's no more volcano, at least not for a long time.
 

1. What is gravitational energy?

Gravitational energy is the potential energy that an object has due to its position in a gravitational field. It is the energy that is stored in an object as a result of its height above the ground.

2. How does breaking down volcanoes/mountains release gravitational energy?

Volcanoes and mountains are formed by the movement of tectonic plates, which are constantly shifting due to the Earth's internal heat. As these plates collide and move, they create mountains and volcanoes. When these structures are broken down, they release gravitational energy that was stored in the form of potential energy due to their height and mass.

3. How is gravitational energy harnessed through breaking down volcanoes/mountains?

Gravitational energy can be harnessed through breaking down volcanoes and mountains by using technologies such as hydroelectric power. As the structures are broken down, the potential energy stored in them is converted into kinetic energy, which can then be used to power turbines and generate electricity.

4. Can breaking down volcanoes/mountains cause any negative effects on the environment?

While harnessing gravitational energy from breaking down volcanoes and mountains can be beneficial, it can also have negative effects on the environment. The process of breaking down these structures can release harmful gases and pollutants into the air, and can also disrupt the natural habitats of plants and animals living in these areas.

5. Is gravitational energy from breaking down volcanoes/mountains a sustainable source of energy?

Gravitational energy from breaking down volcanoes and mountains can be considered a sustainable source of energy, as long as it is done in a responsible and controlled manner. It is important to carefully assess the potential environmental impacts and ensure proper mitigation strategies are in place before tapping into this energy source.

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