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The Casimir Effect as a source of clean/green energy?

  1. Jan 28, 2010 #1
    Ok, to begin with my background is in electronics -not physics or chemsitry, so please forgive me if I come across as uninformed on any subject.

    My question is in regards to the Casimir Effect and how it may be possible to use this as a source of polution free energy.

    My understanding of the Casimir Effect is that is an attractive force that exists between two surfaces at extremley small distances. Similar to the way in which dropping a brick from a height causes work to be done via gravity, two surfaces moving together via the casimir effect would also produce work up until the point they were touching. At this moment no more energy would be released.

    Would it be possible that particles suspended in a solution could be induced to move so close together that the casimir effect is triggered? Would this release energy through a chemical reaction- maybe in the form of heat? The by-product would be of a block of material bound together by the Casimir Effect, but since there would be no attempt to pull the particles apart again, energy has been freed up for use.

    Clearly, it would take energy to produce a chemical solution such as this, and the triggering of this process would take up energy (if indeed it is at all possible), but might this be a 'green', or at least carbon free, way of producing energy?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 28, 2010 #2


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    Staff: Mentor

    We've had this quesiton before so you can search it, but the short answer is the density of the energy is just too low to generate a meaningful amount of power.
  4. Jan 29, 2010 #3
    Russ, thanks for the reply. I will get on the search straight away.
  5. Jan 29, 2010 #4


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    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Let's put it this way, when you get down to it, the Casimir force is just the Van der Waals/London force. These intermolecular forces have been studied for many many years. Fundamentally there is nothing new here and I have yet to see any serious proposal on how we could extract energy from these forces and I have yet to see a serious admission in literature that such a thing would even be possible. There are far more interesting things that we can do with the ability to more accurately predict the intermolecular forces. For example, dry glues and better modeling of MEMS are promising areas.
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