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Alternative energy sources?

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posted on Feb, 20 2005 @ 03:20 AM
In posting this, I realize that there is a currently existing thread in the research forum regarding alternative energies. However, I an opening this thread to get some input from the general members of the board before making a post in the research forum.

This has always been a matter of importance to me for several reasons. First and foremost, we're running out of oil. The more we use, the more we realize that it's a resource that isn't renewing nearly as quickly as we're consuming it. We need to find another source of energy in order to keep things running as we know them. Second, there's the matter of the enviornment. While fossil fuels are reasonably efficient for our needs, they prodoce by-products that are quite harmful to our enviornment. Too much more harmful emissions, and we'll render our planet uninhabitable without a bio-safety suit and climate controlled domes to live in. Finally, there's the theory and reseach out there for infinitely renewable or virtually infinite power sources, that could provide us with a replacement for our current needs of fossil fuels. These new and evolving technologies are exciting and necessary, all at the same time.

In posting this thread, I am interested in hearing the viewpoints of others regarding alternative fuel sources. Personally, I am interested in harmless emission sources that can help us sustain our planet, while remaining cost efficient in the long run. None of us enjoy paying the over $2/gallon prices at the fuel pump, nor do we enjoy the astronomical gas and electric prices that many of us have experienced the nation (and the world) over (for instance, this winter, I have been paying close to $200/month to heat a roughly 700 square foot rowhouse - five years ago, it would have been no more than $100 for the same gas and electric usage).

I am somewhat familliar with some of the suggested fuel sources, though I would like to see any additional information that any of you might have regarding this.

The possible fuel sources I am aware of include:

Corn Alcohol (methyl alcohol). This is what we typically use in race cars, as it burns hotter and more completely than fossil fuels, thereby producing more horsepower in an engine. It is alcohol distilled from corn (much like the consumable equivalent of grain alcohol). To my knowledge, because of it's superior burn consumption rate, the only by-product is water. This is a fuel source that initially came into play in the early to mid-70s with the fuel shortage. It is the alcohol component in gasahol. Within the past several years, several cars have been manufactured to use both gasoline and alcohol as a fuel (there was a model of the 2001 Ford Ranger that could alternate fuel sources, for instance). As yet, it's never really caught on. A common downside I've heard to this is that it can be expensive to produce relative to its energy output. I've found articles that argue both sides of this, so my research as to cost has been inconclusive.

Nuclear Fission. This is a power source that is already in usage, however provides some nasty waste products, such as spent uranium. Also, not enough is known about this technology to really make it a viable energy source worldwide without signifigant chance for meltdown or serious waste issues.

Nuclear Fusion. To the best of my knowledge, this has only been achieved a few times, and the reaction has yet to be sustained. Temperature for ignition of the reaction (hot or cold, depending on the type of fusion) is often a problem, as well as containment of the reaction. The only by-product of this reaction that I am aware of is water, so it would be a clean energy source. However, cost is an issue, as containment and ignition costs could be quite high given today's technology.

Zero-point energy. This really only exists in theory, and not being a quantum physicist, I can only elaborate so much on this concept. The basis for this concept, however lies in the potential for energy drawn from base elements that remain atomically active at zero degrees Kelvin, much like those in space. The concept of zero-point energy would provide a virtually infinite energy source, theoretically at low cost, once the infrastructure for collecting this energy was in place. This is probably the most wild concept that I'll post in here, since it's only possible in theory, and technology doesn't currently exist to truly test the theories.

I'm pretty sure there's potential sources that I've missed, and I would certainly like to hear of them.

Thank you in advance for reading this thread and replying. I will be taking notes, as this is an important topic to me.

posted on Feb, 20 2005 @ 09:19 AM
Future will be thermonuclear, that's no doubt about it. Not only fusion produces a lot of energy, but it is also relatively clean (no nuclear waste, only reactor remains radioactive) and cheap.
The corn alcohol will be only used in organic chemistry instead of oil. The cars will use hydrogen or rechargeable bateries (energy will be gained from fusion powerplants).

Another posibility : NASA planned orbital solar plants some time ago. Their advantages are clean - much more efficient ( atmosphere absorbs a lot of solar beams and also during the night earth solar plants would be useless). They planed that the energy will be converted into the microwaves or laser beam and send to the earth (some kind of reciever zone - rectenas - that converts microwaves or light back into the electricity).
- it is (today) too expensive to built solar plants on geostationary orbit.
- the microwave beams can overheat the atmosphere, damage electronics or cause cancer. Laser beams cannot go through the clouds.

posted on Feb, 20 2005 @ 09:52 AM
Electric Cars, Wind and Solar power, Hydrogen fuels and Anti Gravity. All forseen if not here already. No Coal, No Fossil Fuels. No Nuclear Generating Stations, spent fuel or uranium. Did I miss anything..

posted on Feb, 20 2005 @ 10:10 AM

posted on Feb, 20 2005 @ 12:10 PM
Ethanol can also be produced from cellulose (grass clippings, wheat stalks, your shirt, etc) because of a biologically engineered yeast from Purdue. This means that high sugar crops like corn aren't necessary anymore and we can practically harvest ethanol from weeds. This was always possible through an acidification process used to break down the much more robust cellulose but that was a lot more expensive.

Biodiesel is a fuel that is derived from vegetable oil using readily available and plentiful chemicals like Lye and Acid. Vegetable oil is at time of writing a waste product that is disposed of. A lot of people are making rounds at local resturaunts to collect the oil for free or no charge and making fuel for $.70 (US$) a gallon. The vegetable oil consumed in the US has been calculated to be plausible for anywhere from 5% to 10% of our diesel usage. Some people are working on ways to farm algae, since it grows anywhere in anything fast and that may be a future source of diesel fuel.

I feel that hydrogen is implausible for a lot of reasons, so I won't go into it.

The stirling engine has been being developed by Sunpower, Inc. for decades in an attempt to make a machine that harnesses the sun's heat directly to produce electricity (more efficiently than PV Cells and slightly cheaper). There's a book about it if you're interested.


Tidal power.

Geothermal power.

All of these will need to be combined in the future to adequately replace fossil fuels and maintain our current energy usage. My feeling is that conservation is going to be the key to making it work.

posted on Feb, 20 2005 @ 12:25 PM

Some people are working on ways to farm algae, since it grows anywhere in anything fast and that may be a future source of diesel fuel.

Well there was that GMO Algea that was created that expels Hydrogren when in direct contact with sunlight. Heh, I know your reason for being sceptical about H2, I disagree somewhat as I believe it could make a very usfull energy storage.

posted on Feb, 20 2005 @ 05:33 PM
I think electromagnetic energy should be the main source in the future. But most importantly, we need an energy which is 100% risk-free for our planet.
btw i have a question concerning our damn oil. Have some studies been done to know how much years left we will use oil before it ran out of stock (I hope soon for our poor planet) ? Thanks.

posted on Feb, 20 2005 @ 05:37 PM
Well, it's not when we run out of it that we are going to have problems, its when Oil becomes more and more unprofitable due to inaccessability. Most of the Oil on the planet has already been discovered, we are currently pumping out alot of the cheap stuff at a very fast pace, some say the peek has occured already, I doubt it. I believe the peek for the Oil economy will come after 2010, it will start slowly then picking up speed exponantially feeding on itself driving up prices to a prohibitive level.

posted on Feb, 20 2005 @ 05:52 PM
for info. you should try the research project based on this:


posted on Feb, 20 2005 @ 09:49 PM
There is lots of ways to produce renewable alternate energy sources. The biggest problem in developing them is the industry mentality. They think the way they produce energy is the best way and that the average person can't invent other ways.

Ethanol is something to look at because it can be made from almost anything not just corn, but I don't think it will be a long range alternative because of the energy needed to produce it unless cheaper more abundant soruces of energy are developed which can be easily and cheaply.

Biodiesel or vegetable oils have a lot of promise. I think that most is made from soybeans, but there are lots of other crops that have the ability to produce many more gallons per acre than soybeans. The biggest problem would be what to do with the byproduct after you have extracted the oil.

Hydrogen has a lot of promise if it can be handled and distributed without a lot of loss. The biggest drawback will be if it can be produced cheaply from a renewable source. I know how it can be done.

I have lots of ideas of ways to produce energy. Most are fairly simple and would be cheap to produce. I just wish there was a way that I could get investors to finance them.

posted on Feb, 21 2005 @ 02:46 AM
I'll name the ones I know, even though some have been said,
I'll say them anyways. They are:

ZeroPointEnergy (Uknown when this could be used)
Solar power
Nuclear fusion/fission
Anti-matter (not for another thirty or forty years)

I'm sure there are more I hav'nt listed, we can currently use all but four of these currently.

posted on Feb, 21 2005 @ 07:53 AM
Cosmic radiations.

These rays ionize the upper atmosphere and the interactions between the positively and negatively charged atoms creates something similar to a heat exchange, where there is available kinetic energy.

posted on May, 15 2005 @ 05:20 PM
Zero point energy in a nutshell:

The only thing that could have potential energy at 0K is matter. The energy is stored in the mass of that partice. But how do you break down matter for energy? Simple, generate some Anti-matter, combine the two and they annhilate eachother, emitting an EMP of energy. If you can generate Anti-matter, you have an unlimited source of energy, thet yeilds 100 percent matter to energy conversion. Crazy huh?

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