zondag 10 april 2011

Small wind tubines. Usefull or not?

Sound like a good idea, doesn’t it? Wind is everywhere and free, so we all put a small wind turbine on our roof to make our own electricity. Another advantage is that wind turbines are low tech, so they must be cheap to produce and have a long lifespan.

Well, it turns out that that is not the case. After extensive testing in the Netherlands and the UK it turned out that the lifespan of small wind turbines is only about 5 years. They turn around at high frequencies, so there parts wear easily. And within these 5 years they are not capable to generate enough energy to pay themselves back. The problem is that the blades of these windmills are small which makes the torque they generate small. Also the available wind power in suburban areas is limits because of all the buildings.
There is probably a great future for wind energy, but small wind mills is not the answer. What we need is very large windmills placed in open areas. Offshore windmills at sea is a great idea. Bummer that they are so expensive and that it is not that easy to get the energy they produce inland to the consumers.

vrijdag 8 april 2011

Geothermal energy - Ultra deep drilling

All we need to produce electricity is heat. Heat can be used to produce steam which can power a generator. The thing is that the center of the earth is very, very hot. In fact, it's like a miniature version of the sun. All we have to do to tap in to this energy source is to drill a hole deep enough. That was always the biggest problem, but trough the experience we gathered over the years in drilling for oil it has become technically possible. If large oil companies start drilling for heat instead of for oil, that could change the way we produce electricity.

donderdag 7 april 2011

Helium-3 on the moon

We all know nuclear fission, used in classical nuclear power plants, where heavy atoms are split into 2 smaller atoms. The 2 smaller atoms together weigh less than the original heavy atom and the difference in weight is turned into pure energy in the process. The problem with nuclear fission is that it creates very radioactive waste.
Nuclear fusion takes place when 2 smaller atoms are smashed together and form a bigger atom. Again the bigger atom weighs less than the original 2 smaller atoms together and the difference in weight is turned into pure energy. The waste produced in this process in not that radioactive, so that is a big advantage. The problems is that the process can only take place at very, very hot temperatures. Think the center of the sun and you will be about right. Nuclear fission is actually the power source of the sun. So far we haven’t been able to control these high temperatures, but there is a solution. 
Helium-3 can be used to get nuclear fusion going at lower temperatures that are manageable. The problem is that it can’t be found on earth. On the moon however it is widely available and it is economically viable to mine it and transport it back to earth. The Russians plan to start doing this in 2015 and NASA wants to have a permanent moon base by 2024.



Hello technology fans,

We are faced with some big problems concerning energy and in the next 10 years we are going to have to come up with some innovative sollutions. In this blog i ame going to talk about the technologies that i think could make a diffrence. Feel free to comment and if you have any suggestions yourself, fire away.