Monday, 20 October 2008

Energy and Nuclear

I always tell my Dad that there will come a day when the far West and far East will tell the Middle East to drink their oil. Oil, is not a sustainable energy source, because well, although for the moment we have alot of it floating around many places, it will eventually run out. That's why it is called "fossil fuel" because well, you need fossils to make it. Although fossils, are sediments that take thousands of years to become oil. I'll spare the geology/physics/chemistry explanation. (I hate chemistry)

Anyway, the Greens think carbon emission is destroying the planet, cutting down trees for coal energy is worsening the problem, and all those SUVs people are driving are definitely not helping. That's where the Kyoto agreement comes into play. But, the largest fuel consumers, the USA (surprise surprise) still refuse to sign it, and the Chinese aren't very eager either.

So, oil is out, and coal is out, and Gas, also falls under the same carbon emission category. That leaves the world with a fundamental problem. Where are we going to get the energy we need to power our factories, generate our electricity, etcetera?

So far there have been a number of alternative energy sources, such as winds, such as generating electricity through large wind propellors that generate electricity through the rotation of the turbines, and, there is no accurate statistic, but a percentage, although small, of electricity in the world is generate through these windmills. Yet, there main problem is efficiency, and a large number of these windmills is needed to generate comparitavely a limited amount of electricity. Likewise, there are turbines that generate electricity, also through rotation, yet the wheels of these turbines are generated by the energy of flowing water, i.e. rivers, damns, etc. But again, efficiency is an issue.

There is a very nice solution to all of this! Hydrogen fuel!

Hydrogen fuel, is already used in spacecrafts. It has --- except it comes with a "handle with care" tag. ....and it burns into water (or H2O)

What is Cold Fusion? aha, good question. The chemical reaction behind the stars, or, more clearly, the Sun (the sun is just another star in the millions of galaxies) , is fusion. Now, fusion, is the "burning" of Hydrogen atoms. Well, this reaction creates an amazing amount of energy, an energy so great that it one Hydrogen bomb is equivalent to some 200 atomic bombs, and something like 2000 times the magnitude of Hiroshima and Nakazagi . The problem with that, is that it gets to be, well, quite hot, if I were to use my English sarcasm. If cold fusion can be achieved, that means that a similar fusion reaction can be replicated, except without all that heat. How, well, if I knew, I wouldn't tell you, because then I'd be a billionaire vacationing in the Caribbean to worry about a blog. (then again, maybe i'd be bored and blog anyway)

The UK government decided that by 2020, it is going to cut its carbon emission by 42%, in a big drive to reach 0% carbon emission by 2050. They are quite serious about this, and they have brought in one of the big guns, Lord Turner, to chair the commission on carbon emission. Lord Turner is a big gun, because, he also heads the Financial Services Authority (FSA) , and when the government brings in a finance and economics heavyweight to chair a committee, that means they are serious about it. We all know, in England, money men are the bread and butter.
Well, cutting carbon emission does require alot of steps, such as becoming energy wise, at the very least.

My father always used to follow me around telling me to switch the lights off when I wasn't in the room. I don't think he was worried about carbon emission, but more about our electricity bill, but, it does help the carbon emission too! (I learned to be energy wise before there was any wiseness to have! Thanks Dad).

Since I did mention economy by referring to Mr. Turner, well, one of the things that the UK is working towards, is gravitating more towards nuclear energy,which is really the fun part for the moment.

Electricite De France, or EDF, has acquired British Energy, the UK's biggest energy producers, for £12.4b
n. BE owns some eight nuclear reactors, and more importantently owns a number of sights around the UK that would be ideal for building new Energy plants. Today, 78% of France 's energy comes from nuclear, with EDF owning most of the nuclear plants. The government's plan is to clean up what is left of the nuclear weapons industry and re-model it into energy production, as well as give its current nuclear energy production (14% of the total energy production) a much needed facelift.

Although, when it comes to EDF, they are not just looking to the UK, but to become the premier energy company in the world. They know that energy is one of the bigger markets in the future. After all they are a f0r-profit company, and they are trying to also expand into the USA, which doesn't come as a surprise, as the USA is the biggest consumer of energy. Well, if it is the biggest consumer of oil, doesn't that computer to the biggest consumer of energy?

If you don't believe me, maybe you'd believe Warren Buffet, because he also is an advocate that the future of energy sector is bright (I don't work for Orange hehe), as he is in a bidding war against EDF.

But, we all know the problem of nuclear waste. In fact, in Lebanon, we know them well! Rumor has it , that during the civil war, we had a couple of nuclear wastes ships "visit" our harbors. What happened to their cargo, isn't exactly known, but well, maybe I got exposed to them? Could explain alot of things about my sense of humor.

But, there just may be a nice solution to all of this :)

Hydrogen fuel.

This is still under development, but it's extremely efficient, has a high yield of enery, and is carbon free. Why? Because, on combustion, Hydrogen turns into steam, or H2O, i.e. water vapor. That's quite cool, and well, Hydrogen is not only the lightest of gases , but its also one of the most abundant. It's not entirely fiction, because NASA already uses hydrogen fuel, to propel its spacecrafts into space, especially for exit and re-entry of the Earth's atmosphere. The problem with this, that the fuel is highly hazardous and unstable, and any mishap can cause unimaginable damage. You got any idea how high the temperature can get during a hydrogen combustion reaction? Think thousands of degrees celsius. Also, moving Hydrogen fuel around, is dangerous, that's why NASA uses something called solid fuel.

I know that BMW has an expiremntal Hydrogen powered car, but well.....I'd keep an eye on this. (right, which reminds me that I need VDU glasses....)

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