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A Layperson's View of Future Technology and Society

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Renewable Energy Sources

Renewable Energy Sources

Renewable energy is energy generated from natural resources—such as sunlight, wind, rain, tides, and geothermal heat—which are renewable (naturally replenished). Most renewable energy comes either directly or indirectly from the sun. Solar energy can be used directly for heating and lighting, for generating electricity and a variety of commercial and industrial uses.

The sun's heat also drives the winds, whose energy is captured with wind turbines. Rain or snow flowing downhill into rivers or streams can be captured using hydropower.

The organic matter that makes up plants is known as biomass. Biomass can be used to produce electricity, transportation fuels, or chemicals. The use of biomass for any of these purposes is called biomass energy.

Hydrogen also can be found in many organic compounds, as well as water. It's the most abundant element on the Earth. But it doesn't occur naturally as a gas. It's always combined with other elements, such as with oxygen to make water. Once separated from another element, hydrogen can be burned as a fuel or converted into electricity.

Renewable Energy Sources Geothermal energy taps the Earth's internal heat for a variety of uses. And the energy of the ocean's tides comes from the gravitational pull of the moon and the sun upon the Earth.

In fact, ocean energy comes from a number of sources. In addition to tidal energy, there's the energy of the ocean's waves, which are driven by both the tides and the winds. The sun also warms the surface of the ocean more than the ocean depths, creating a temperature difference that can be used as an energy source. All these forms of ocean energy can be used to produce electricity.

Source: National Renewal Energy Laboratory

Fusion Confusion?

Fusion energy

Lately, it seems you can't swing a dead catalyst without hitting something called FUSION. Cars, candy bars, soft drinks, even razor blades are named after it. Probably to give you the impression that what's inside is high energy. (I still haven't figured out what fusion has to do with shaving).

My girlfriend used the word recently during a discussion we were having in front of the local theatre. She suggested that we see a romantic comedy. I countered with a film about a family of crazed killers. She said something about boundaries and followed it with, "Hey, it's not fusion". The next thing I know, I'm sitting in a center loge seat watching a movie I think was entitled "Tender Magnolias".

I decided that before our next date, I would learn more about fusion and exactly how it relates to movie selection.

Fusion Energy

Lettuce Be Green

Researchers are making hydrogen from common bacteria.

Microbial fuel cells

Hydrogen Fuel Cells

In the near future, hydrogen fuel cells promise to change our lives. These fuel cells will power our vehicles, homes and offices more efficiently and will be less harmful to the environment than traditional energy sources. Fuel cells using pure hydrogen do not emit any air pollutants or greenhouse gases.

Hydrogen fuel

Future of Energy Articles, Blogs and Web Sites

Links open in a new window. Bold = Recommended. Links do not imply endorsement.

Future Energy Articles
Title Source Date
Team finds electricity can be generated by dragging saltwater over graphene Phys.Org 04/14
An environmentally friendly, energy-dense sugar battery KurzweilAi.net 01/14
Prelude floating liquefied natural gas (FLNG) facility video Shell 12/13
The future of our energy PhysOrg 03/13
Synthetic fuels could eliminate entire U.S. need for crude oil Princeton University 12/12
Three radical new energy technologies KurzweilAi.net 11/12
Significant advance in battery architecture MIT 06/11
Smart Grid NSF video 04/11
Future Fuels for Everyone Powered by the Sun NSF 04/11
Nanoscoops could dramatically improve batteries KurzweilAI.net 01/11
Power-Generating Windows Brookhaven National Laboratory 11/10
Former president of India wants to beam energy from space KurzweilAI.net 11/10
Electricity collected from the air could become the newest alternative energy source ACS 08/10
New solar energy conversion process discovered by Stanford engineers could revamp solar power production Stanford University News 08/10
Using carbon nanotubes in lithium batteries dramatically improves energy capacity MIT News 06/10
Power from Glucose Technology Review 05/10
Machine Converts CO2 into Gasoline, Diesel, and Jet Fuel PhysOrg 11/09
Wireless technologies are starting to power devices. Forbes 01/09
Fuel from Coal-Eating Microbes Technology Review 01/09
Microbial factories PhysOrg 02/09
Energy teaching tools Energy API 11/08
Mini nuclear plants to power 20,000 homes Guardian News 11/08
U.K. Speeds Wind Energy Development EcoWorld 10/08
New Generation Wind Turbine Energy Daily 06/08
Rain Power: Harvesting Energy from the Sky PhysOrg 01/08
Fuel Cell That Uses Bacteria To Generate Electricity ScienceDaily 01/08
The MagLev wind turbine Inhabitat 11/07
Large scale solar plants have a bright future GizMag 09/07
Sugar-Based Battery PC World 08/07
In Pictures: Energy Sources of the Future Forbes 08/07
Forget biofuels - burn oil and plant forests instead New Scientist 08/07
People-powered 'Crowd Farm?' ScienceDaily 08/07
Space solar power Space Review 08/07
Paper battery offers future power BBC 08/07
MIT duo sees people-powered "Crowd Farm MIT News 07/07
Wireless Energy Lights Bulb Scientific American 06/07
A Sound Way To Turn Heat Into Electricity ScienceDaily 06/07
Navy Heats Up Cold Fusion Hopes DailyTech 05/07
Tidal energy generator GizMag 05/07

 

Future Energy Web Sites and Blogs
Title Description
Ames Laboratory U.S. Department of Energy by Iowa State University
Future Energy Technology News and Information about Free Energy and Future Technologies
Alternative Energy Resources Alternative Energy Resources
Energy teaching tools Energy API
IBM IBM's energy and environment web site
Renewable Energy World Renewable Energy web site
The Energy Planet ThinkQuest

 

References
Article Sources
Renewable Energy Sources Paraphrased and images from National Renewable Energy Laboratory
Image 1 credit: Beck Energy, DOE/NREL
Image 2 credit: Warren Gretz DOE/NREL

 

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