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
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
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.