Energy alternatives

Energy alternatives

Requirement: choose one topic
SOLAR POWER

Large scale: Photovoltaic Si solar panels, or Concentrated Solar Power(CPS — a technique using mirrors to focus solar light on steam boilers, and then using the steam for running turbines). Plusses and minuses ot these two techniques.
Solar power, medium scale (~10 kW). What’s better — Si panels, or a mirror with a Stirling engine?
Solar power, small (single household) scale. Are there other options than Si panels

WIND POWER

Large wind farms, inland and offsore: what is the reasonable % of the net energy consumption that they will be able to cover?
Household level: is it a realistic option to use wind energy?
Can we harness winds for rendering services other than generating electricity to us? Sailing boats — were they only a beautiful episode in our history, or would it make sense to start building such “winged beauties” again? (a good topic for someone who has some experience in sailing, even on small recerational boats only).

OCEANS AND SEAS

Waves, tides, and sea currents — how can they be converted to electricity?
Methods utilizning the temperature differnece between surface waters and deep waters: are they a viable option?
Methane hydride — rsources and potential benefits, but is it realistic to start underwater mining operations half a mile below sea level?

TRANSPORTATION

Electric cars (electric only)– current status, future prospects.
Plug-in hybride cars.
Solar vehicles — with much attention on the OSU students’ car which took part in a race in Summer 2008.
Hydrogen powered cars: fuel cells, or Hydrogen-burning piston engines?
Compressed air: a more-than-100-year-old technology, presumed dead, but who knows? Resurection not impossible with newest hi-tech hi-pressure tanks.

NUCLEAR POWER

Corvallis-designed “modular reactors”
Breeders: a realistic option, or not?
Thorium power: a nuclear energy bonanza, or wishful thinking?
Nuclear fusion: the National Ignition Facility, annd the ITER project.

NOVEL CELL TYPES

Lithium ion batteries, and supercapacitors — do they offer a chance for purely electric cars?
Fuel cell — not only for cars, but also about stationary units, and outer-space applications.
Thermoelctric generators: known for well over 100 years, but considered good only for “peripherial” applications, like generating a few Watts of power — perhaps it’s time to change that opinion?

HYDROGEN AS A FUEL

Advantages, and how are we going to produce vast amounts of it, if we decide to implement the “hydrogen economy”?

BIOFUELS

Alcohol — how we make it, and how it is made in Brazil?
Gasoline bio-substitutes other than alcohol.
Bio-diesel (plenty of activity here at OSU!).

COAL: “CLEAN” TECHNOLOGIES”

Other methods of using coal for energy production than just burning it — and burning, but with CO2 sequestration.

GRAND SCALE PROJECT, POLITICS

A project of eliminating 95% of fossil fuel usage in the US by the year 2100.
Possible developments in the next few decades in the US — based on President Obama’s “Earth Day Speach” of April 21, 2009.

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