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Using the greenhouse effect for energy?

  1. Jun 25, 2013 #1
    Ok I don’t really know any reasons why this doesn’t happen already so I’m hoping some people can help.

    Is it not possible to induce a Runaway greenhouse effect in a controlled environment and then use it for energy production?

    If it is possible why isn’t it being done (too inefficient, costly etc)?

  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 25, 2013 #2
    That doesn't really make sense, since you need energy to create a greenhouse effect.
  4. Jun 25, 2013 #3


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    Staff: Mentor

    I'm not really clear on how you think it could be harnessed, but see this for a possibility:

    That particular company/project is probably a scam/boondoggle, but there is nothing wrong with the basic concept besides construct-ability and economic viability.
  5. Jun 25, 2013 #4
    Sorry everybody, I can see why my question was unclear.

    The enviromission project isn’t what I had in mind but thanks for suggesting it.

    Just to explain it better:

    So in a normal power station a turbine is turned using water or steam to generate electricity.

    If you managed to create a clear box containing the stuff you need for a runaway greenhouse effect then the inside of the box would have a lot of heat and pressure. Surely that kind of environment could be used to pump water in, evaporate it, turn a turbine and generate electricity?

    The energy to keep the greenhouse effect going would come from the sun.

    Would this be more efficient than solar panels and other forms of renewable energy?
  6. Jun 25, 2013 #5


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    Gold Member

    The energy coming into the greenhouse will still be proportional to the area of the greenhouse, so the average power available is still only the power of the sunlight hitting the box.
    This leads me to think that you'd be better off simply heating the water directly with sunlight.
    Perhaps you could use the greenhouse box to store energy, but there are more efficient and compact means to do so (such as liquid salt and batteries).
  7. Jun 25, 2013 #6


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    Staff: Mentor

  8. Jun 25, 2013 #7
    Thanks for that. You both explained it perfectly.
  9. Jun 25, 2013 #8


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    Science Advisor

    Solar cooking usually involves both concentrating the sunlight and also using a "greenhouse pot". The greenhouse pot is a dark pot inside a clear pot. It absorbs the sunlight and gets very hot. You could use this to boil water and generate electricity, I suppose.
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