Plausible science-fiction energy ideas

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Replies

  • siren13577siren13577 Forumite
    862 Posts
    Hubby and I have just been discussing this and he mentioned a rather interesting and clever idea, pavement power:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/apr/13/pavement-power-toulouse-streets

    http://www.worldarchitecturenews.com/index.php?fuseaction=wanappln.projectview&upload_id=12560

    I think this is a great idea!!!

    I wonder about some type of biometric energy would be a good idea:
    http://www.eurekalert.org/features/kids/2008-02/aaft-hp020108.php

    Maybe to power the personal gadgets people seem to like nowadays.
    :A :

    Siren

    Keep Smiling:D

    Eight words ye Wiccan Rede fulfill - An’ it harm none, Do what ye will.

  • siren13577siren13577 Forumite
    862 Posts
    or electricity from the air:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-11100528
    :A :

    Siren

    Keep Smiling:D

    Eight words ye Wiccan Rede fulfill - An’ it harm none, Do what ye will.

  • celeritycelerity Forumite
    311 Posts
    siren13577 wrote: »

    I don't think this is likely to take off any time soon:
    BBC_News wrote:
    The effect is incredibly small - gathering an amount of charge 100 million times smaller over a given area than a solar cell produces - but seems to represent a means of charge accumulation that has been overlooked until now.

    If I replaced my solar panels with this technology, I wouldn't even have enough juice to charge my mobile phone ;).

    Interesting idea for rainforests though, assuming his research holds up under scutiny (which currently is less than clear).

    /\dam
  • celeritycelerity Forumite
    311 Posts
    siren13577 wrote: »
    Hubby and I have just been discussing this and he mentioned a rather interesting and clever idea, pavement power:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/apr/13/pavement-power-toulouse-streets

    http://www.worldarchitecturenews.com/index.php?fuseaction=wanappln.projectview&upload_id=12560

    I think this is a great idea!!!

    Agreed this is a really nice idea. Like anything, it sounds as if it is completely cost-inefficient at the moment, but they are still producing 60W which is getting on for a useful amount of power.
    I wonder about some type of biometric energy would be a good idea:
    http://www.eurekalert.org/features/kids/2008-02/aaft-hp020108.php

    Maybe to power the personal gadgets people seem to like nowadays.
    This also has potential, even if just for changing people's attitudes to energy and exercise. On a related note, I've always wondered why gyms don't wire up their machines to the National Grid, or at least to a swimming pool heater!

    Another interesting link I found in one of the articles you posted, is about "smart" street lighting that only illuminates when it is needed:
    Installed on a 500-metre section of pavement last weekend, the lampposts double the strength of the light they cast when they detect human body heat. Ten seconds later they revert to normal.
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/oct/26/toulouse-heat-sensitive-lampposts

    To me, that doesn't sound particularly expensive, even to prototype.

    /\dam
  • celeritycelerity Forumite
    311 Posts
    podcake wrote: »
    If we are after an actual REAL prediction that makes sense I think the next step that will be done in mass transport is to make a high speed evacuated link between somewhere like the USA and europe. Extracting the air from the tube would allow the cars inside to travel at quite seriously high speeds without the wind resistance. Imagine London- New York in ONE HOUR....

    That sounds like it would cost tens of billions, and I'd seriously doubt we have the engineering capability to do it safely :).

    However, I would propose that to test out the technology, it would be economically worthwhile to build a smaller version for parcels. Being able to "zing" pods of goodies across hundreds (or thousands) of miles at high speed and low cost would save loads of air and sea freight journeys.

    I still think a trans-atlantic version would be insanely difficult to do though. Did you imagine it to be underground, undersea or as a huge bridge?! Even with my "parcel-pod" idea all it would take is some git to post a letterbomb and you'd have the repair job from hell.

    [tangent]
    I do remember seeing an idea ages ago, which was a motorway designed for automated cars, which all line up behind a lead vehicle which is basically a huge "wedge" shape capable of driving at an optimally fast speed, eg: 100mph. The idea is that the wedge displaces the air such that the convoy of traffic behind (which is driving bumper to bumper) doesn't have to fight against air-resistance. It sounds highly impractical to me, but your post reminded me of it.
    A more plausible idea would be to fit cars with auto-pilots and local-area-networking with all traffic in the area, so they could all drive super-efficiently and also go bumper-to-bumper on motorways. That would save a lot of fuel.

    /\dam
  • celeritycelerity Forumite
    311 Posts
    [the "If everyone were vegetarian the world couldn't provide enough feed" argument revisited]
    podcake wrote: »
    Also animals can be fed on grass (you don't see wild goats -for example- getting a farmer on a quad bike feeding them stuff.) and they graze it gradually

    Apologies for belabouring the point, but I forgot to add that you're missing a few critical details with this idea.

    First of all, I doubt any of the meat you eat today has been fed on solely grass. Modern farming requires that livestock be fed on carefully mixed feeds, which all need to be grown somewhere.

    Secondly, even though some herds can indeed be put out to pasture during the spring and summer, they still need to be fed for the other six months of the year, which requires, as a bare minimum, that you have stockpiled huge amounts of hay, and really you would want lots of root and cereal crops too. All of these need land area in addition to your "free grass / no farming needed" areas.

    Now, there are some parts of the world where I accept you could keep small quantities of animals in an area with minimal feed and maintenance all year round - but once the populations of the towns and cities come-a-knocking demanding more of your delicious "wild goat meat" you would soon run out, I guarantee it! :)

    /\dam
  • celeritycelerity Forumite
    311 Posts
    celerity wrote: »
    On a related note, I've always wondered why gyms don't wire up their machines to the National Grid, or at least to a swimming pool heater!

    OK, this is (unsurprisingly) not a novel idea, and is apparently already being done at various locations round the world.

    /\dam
  • Ben84Ben84 Forumite
    3.1K Posts
    Part of the Furniture 1,000 Posts Combo Breaker
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    Ways to use less energy are equally important and potentially just as interesting as ways to generate more energy in the future.

    I think however there is one giant source of energy we will almost inevitably tap in to sooner or later, the heat from the centre of the earth. It's a vast resource and although a technical challenge to drill down deep enough, it would consume little surface land, which itself is limited and valuable. The depth at which it's available varies, but it is available anywhere on the planet, which combined with the ability to drill at angles and change direction, we could site power plants quite flexibly. We could pipe it around district heating networks for heating buildings and hot water. Higher temperature sources, which are widely available at various depths, can also turn turbines to make electric, but also turn turbines directly for mechanical energy. Many factories, trains and even small devices like lifts once used steam instead of electric. Increasing geothermal energy, combined with highly insulated supply pipes, may bring back steam power.

    There's still some debate about what is inside the centre of the earth. Is the heat remaining from the formation of the planet from molten rock, or is the centre of the earth rich in nuclear material (heavier radioactive elements would have sunk deeper under gravitational pull when the earth was a molten ball) that form a giant nuclear reactor. That remains to be discovered, but either situation still results in us sitting on vast clean energy reserves we just need to tap in to. Even if the centre of the earth is not nuclear powered, there's so much energy down there that diverting some for our needs is fairly insignificant.
  • http://blog.ted.com/2011/04/27/using-nature-to-grow-batteries-angela-belcher-on-ted-com/

    We can in theory grow batteries and solar cells, I think genetic manipulation to do this kind of thing is where we will end up in the next 20-30 years
  • celeritycelerity Forumite
    311 Posts
    Ben84 wrote: »
    I think however there is one giant source of energy we will almost inevitably tap in to sooner or later, the heat from the centre of the earth. It's a vast resource and although a technical challenge to drill down deep enough

    I'm not sure about how much of a technical challenge it would be, but I would suspect it would be fairly epic. What is the deepest we can drill at the moment? Maybe 12km? It must cost a fortune to drill down that deep, and I'm not sure how helpful the temperatures at that depth would be. 300C is useful, but perhaps less so when it is 10,000m+ down?

    [this reminds me of one of my favourite "ridiculous science" films, [URL="http://geolor.com/The_Core_Movie-Facts_and_Fiction.htm"]The Core[/URL] :)]

    Interestingly, Japan has lots of volcanic activity which they could in theory tap (and they are looking at renewables now) but I think I read recently that they are restricted because much of those areas are in National Parks.

    Having said all that, it would indeed be marvellous if our cities could be powered from geothermal energy.

    /\dam
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