Tag Archives | Alternative Energy

When Nuclear Energy Almost Took to the Skies

"NB-36H with B-50, 1955 - DF-SC-83-09332" by USAF - U.S. Defenseimagery.mil photo no. DF-SC-83-09332. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons.

Back in the 1950s, under the threat of communist apocalypse, the US military had plans for a long-range bomber using the energy of nuclear decay heat to stay aloft for weeks at a time. The Convair X-6 was a design to use a radical, high-temperature, molten-salt-fueled-and-cooled reactor (MSR), and made nuclear-powered aviation come quite close to reality. This program, called NEPA (Nuclear Energy for the Propulsion of Aircraft), like its space-faring cousin-project NERVA, was ultimately a sink for around 7 billion US taxpayer dollars before it was cancelled by Eisenhower. But it actually resulted in the development of a radical type of reactor (MSR) that still could be used to safely generate massive amounts of electricity. More on that later.

The Convair X-6 bomber prototype, which carried a working nuclear reactor and heavy radiation shielding for the pilots (105,000 pounds of lead alone), was test flown nearly a dozen times in 1957.… Read the rest

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Kenya Signs Nuclear Power Deal with China

Trojan Nuclear Power Plant
When will the USA wise up to the economic potential of a material with 3.2 million times the power density of coal, and what that could mean for people in the west and impoverished people around the globe?

via Mail & Guardian Africa:

KENYA has signed a deal with China as part of the east leading African economy’s plans to have a nuclear power station by 2025, the Kenya Nuclear Electricity Board (KNEB) said Thursday.

Kenya plans to set up its a first nuclear power plant with a capacity of 1000 MW by 2025, the board said, with ambitions to boost that to 4000 MW by 2033, and to make nuclear electricity “a key component of the country’s energy” production.

The memorandum of understanding, signed in China, will enable Kenya to “obtain expertise from China by way of training and skills development, technical support in areas such as site selection for Kenya’s nuclear power plants and feasibility studies,” the KNEB statement said.

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The Oil Industry is Going Solar


Zachary Shahan writes at Climate Crock of the Week:

There’s no way around it — the future of energy is solar energy. But here’s the fun part: the future starts now.

Solar panels have been on the market for decades, but saying solar panels of today are the same as solar panels of the 1990s is like saying phones of today are like phones of the 1990s. True, you can’t play Tetris on your solar panels or listen to music via them, but who wants to climb onto a record-hot roof to do that anyway? Getting back to the central point here, it’s that the cost of solar has fallen off a cliff, and solar power is increasingly the cheapest option around. (see graph above).

Solar power prices are falling so fast that it’s hard for just about anyone to keep up. Last year, many of us jumped for joy as a record-low solar PPA was signed in Austin, Texas (for 5 cents/kWh).

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Synthesizing Jet Fuel from Sea Water

060318-N-7526R-154 South China Sea (March 19, 2006) Ð Amphibious command ship USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19) Sailors look on as a refueling probe crosses over the South China Sea, during a replenishment at sea (RAS) with the Military Sealift Command (MSC) underway replenishment oiler USNS Walter S. Diehl (T-AO 193). Blue Ridge, the 7th Fleet command ship, is currently underway for a regularly scheduled deployment throughout the 7th Fleet area of responsibility.

Everybody already knows that jet fuel can’t melt steel beams.

However, perhaps you didn’t know that a team at the Naval Research Laboratories in Florida has successfully developed a technology that synthesizes jet fuel from only sea water and electricity.

With all of their ships and planes, the navy has a huge need of both diesel and jet fuel. Unfortunately, many of the regions that contain large sources of petroleum, have…how shall I say…political interests highly contrary to those of the United States. So sending an oiler supply vessel to shore to find a petroleum source could be a very hazardous strategic move in a conflict and might leave our ships dead in the water or forced to return home. This strategic achilles heel for the navy is bad, but the fuel is also increasingly expensive (cost of fuel for the navy rose from $0.63/gal in 2000 to $3.75/gal in 2013, and effectively costs over $7.00/gal to deliver to the vessels) not to mention environmentally disastrous.… Read the rest

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New Report Shatters Myth of ‘Nuclear Renaissance’

A solar park in the UK. (Photo: RTPeat/flickr/cc)

A solar park in the UK. (Photo: RTPeat/flickr/cc)

This post was originally published on Common Dreams. See more of Andrea Germanos’ articles here.

If renewable energy advocates need more evidence that solar and wind are better investments than nuclear power, a new report may offer just that.

The findings come from the newly released World Nuclear Industry Status Report 2015, which looks at global nuclear developments over the past year.

Marking a first in five decades, Japan went without nuclear power for an entire year, the report states. And three of the world’s largest economies—China, Germany, Japan—as well as Brazil, India, Mexico, the Netherlands, and Spain, now all generate more electricity from non-hydro renewables than from nuclear.

In the UK, renewable energy, including hydropower, provided more electricity output than nuclear in 2014.

Global generation from solar was up 38 percent, and wind power increased over 10 percent.

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‘Blue Energy’ Is So Plentiful That It Could Meet All Our Electricity Needs

Could blue be the new green, asks BBC Future, referring to the so-called blue energy generated when fresh water rivers flow into salt water estuaries:

It is perhaps one of the most under-exploited sources of green energy. When salt water and fresh water mix in estuaries, a chemical process occurs that can be harnessed for electricity generation.

Medway Estuary. Photo: Clem Rutter (CC)

Medway Estuary. Photo: Clem Rutter (CC)


According to one estimate, this “blue energy” is so plentiful that it could meet all our needs – if we can find an effective way to tap it. Could ‘blue’ be the new green?

Blue energy was first proposed in 1954 by a British engineer named R E Pattle. It is sometimes called “osmotic power”, because it exploits the phenomenon of osmosis. To understand how this works, picture two solutions of water with different concentrations of a dissolved substance like salt. If these two solutions are separated by a thin “semi-permeable” membrane that lets water through but not salt ions, then water will naturally pass from the less- to the more-salty side.

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Ancient Bacteria Produce Carbon-Neutral Ethanol Using Just Sun, Waste Carbon Dioxide and Non-Potable Water

Scientists at innovative energy company Joule have engineered ancient bacteria to produce carbon-neutral ethanol using just the sun, waste carbon dioxide and non-potable water. It’s amazingly efficient, beating other ethanol sources like corn and wood chips by a huge margin and could eventually be cheaper than oil. Bloomberg’s Ramy Inocencio reports from Hobbs, New Mexico:

There’s more detailed information in Joule’s press release.

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Wind Energy Was Largest Source Of New US Electricity In 2014

Joshua S. Hill Via CleanTechnica:

The American Wind Energy Association has commented on the US Department of Energy’s data released for 2014 this week, which showed that wind energy added “significantly more” electricity than any other resource across the year.

According to Department of Energy (DoE) Energy Information Administration (EIA) statistics, wind energy generated 4.4% of all electricity during 2014, maintaining its position as the country’s fifth largest electricity source.

Wind energy generated a total of 181,791 GWh of electricity in 2014, up 13,951 GWh over 2013 levels.



Continue reading. (And please mark this article as “interesting” over at CleanTechnica if you found it informative.)

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Using ‘Fuzzy Logic’ to Optimize Hybrid Solar/Battery Systems

This image shows the fuzzy logic algorithm which reads the consumption energy and the monthly average of daily solar radiation and gives the output of the system which is the PVP surface and the battery capacity. Credit: Chokri BEN SALAH/Control and Energy Management Lab. (CEMLab), Department of Electrical Engineering, National School of Engineers of Sfax, BP. W, 3038, Sfax, Tunisia.

This image shows the fuzzy logic algorithm which reads the consumption energy and the monthly average of daily solar radiation and gives the output of the system which is the PVP surface and the battery capacity.

Credit: Chokri BEN SALAH/Control and Energy Management Lab. (CEMLab), Department of Electrical Engineering, National School of Engineers of Sfax, BP. W, 3038, Sfax, Tunisia.

Via ScienceDaily:

How did fuzzy logic help a group of researchers in Tunisia and Algeria create an ideal photovoltaic system that obeys the supply-and-demand principle and its delicate balance?

In the Journal of Renewable & Sustainable Energy, from AIP Publishing, the group describes a new sizing system of a solar array and a battery in a standalone photovoltaic system that is based on fuzzy logic — a many-valued logic system designed to reason outputs by considering a range of possibilities rather than a simple, binary yes or no, as with classical logic.

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Solar Power Towers Are Vaporizing Birds


Bird Deaths By Power Source | U.S. News & World Report


Solar power may be deadly to birds, but it doesn’t hold a candle to the damage that coal power does.

Sarah Fecht writes at Popular Science:

But they aren’t the deadliest energy source for our feathered friends.

The Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Project in Nevada is set to come online in March. Once completed, it will use thousands of mirrors to focus sunlight on a tower, melting millions of pounds of salt contained inside. The molten salt will heat water into steam, which then turns turbines and generates electricity without any carbon byproducts. There’s just one little problem: During a test run on January 14, the intense heat from the mirrors reportedly incinerated and/or vaporized more than 100 birds.

Rewire reports that during the test, operators fired up a third of the 110-megawatt facility’s mirrors, concentrating sunlight on a spot 1,200 feet off the ground.
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