Tag Archives | Alternative Energy

How Much Safer Would Thorium Based Nuclear Power Be?

Uploaded by Alchemist-hp  via Free Art License 1.3 (FAL 1.3)

Uploaded by Alchemist-hp via Free Art License 1.3 (FAL 1.3)

According to Oliver Tickell, not much:

Numerous advantages for thorium as a nuclear fuel and for the LFTR design over conventional solid fuel reactors have been claimed. In this section we consider each of these claims in turn.

3.1 Abundance of thorium relative to uranium

Claim: Thorium is several times more abundant in the Earth’s crust than uranium.

Response: Thorium (232Th) is indeed more abundant than uranium, by a factor of three to four. But whereas 0.7% of uranium occurs as fissile 235U, none of the thorium is fissile. The world already possesses an estimated 1.2 million tonnes of depleted uranium (mainly 238U), like thorium a fertile but non-fissile material. So the greater abundance of thorium than uranium confers no advantage, other than a very marginal advantage in energy security to those countries in which it is abundant.

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New Technique Offers Spray-on Solar Power

liz west (CC BY 2.0)

liz west (CC BY 2.0)

Via ScienceDaily:

Pretty soon, powering your tablet could be as simple as wrapping it in cling wrap.

That’s Illan Kramer’s (ECE) hope. Kramer and colleagues have just invented a new way to spray solar cells onto flexible surfaces using miniscule light-sensitive materials known as colloidal quantum dots (CQDs) — a major step toward making spray-on solar cells easy and cheap to manufacture.

“My dream is that one day you’ll have two technicians with Ghostbusters backpacks come to your house and spray your roof,” said Kramer, a post-doctoral fellow with The Edward S. Rogers Sr. Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering at the University of Toronto and IBM Canada’s Research and Development Centre.

Solar-sensitive CQDs printed onto a flexible film could be used to coat all kinds of weirdly shaped surfaces, from patio furniture to an airplane’s wing. A surface the size of your car’s roof wrapped with CQD-coated film would produce enough energy to power three 100-Watt light bulbs — or 24 compact fluorescents.

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The Coming Era of Unlimited — and Free — Clean Energy

When I saw this headline in  a tweet from Daniel Pinchbeck I thought it was going to link to one of “those” blogs, but no, it’s straight from a stalwart of the mainstream media, the Washington Post, which is touting 100% solar-generated electricity meeting all our needs, sooner rather than later:

In the 1980s, leading consultants were skeptical about cellular phones.  McKinsey & Company noted that the handsets were heavy, batteries didn’t last long, coverage was patchy, and the cost per minute was exorbitant.  It predicted that in 20 years the total market size would be about 900,000 units, and advised AT&T to pull out.  McKinsey was wrong, of course.  There were more than 100 million cellular phones in use in 2000; there are billions now.  Costs have fallen so far that even the poor — all over world — can afford a cellular phone.

The experts are saying the same about solar energy now.  

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Why We Must Divest From Fossil Fuels: A Student’s Open Letter to Harvard President Drew Faust

PIC: Harvard (CC)

PIC: Harvard (CC)

Wen Stephenson and Benjamin Franta, via the Nation:

The movement for fossil-fuel divestment has swelled to what an Oxford University study calls the fastest-growing divestment movement in history, one with the potential to shift the political ground beneath the fossil-fuel lobby’s feet. There are more than 500 campaigns globally—including on some 400 college and university campuses in the United States, along with city and state governments and major religious institutions. Ten colleges and more than twenty cities—including Seattle, San Francisco and, as it happens, Cambridge, Massachusetts—have committed to divest.

Back in October, Harvard University President and distinguished American historian Drew Gilpin Faust, having faced more than a year of increasing calls by students, faculty and almuni to divest from fossil fuels, released a statement in which she explained why Harvard would do no such thing, at least not on her watch. Reactions to her position—by critics ranging from climate activist Tim DeChristopher (now at Harvard Divinity School) and Columbia’s Todd Gitlin (an alum) to former Oberlin president and National Science Board member James Lawrence Powell, among others—pointed to its logical inconsistency, not to mention blindness to moral, political and economic facts.

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World’s First Magma-Enhanced Geothermal System Created in Iceland

Pic: Ivan Vtorov (CC)

Pic: Ivan Vtorov (CC)

Via ScienceDaily:

In 2009, a borehole drilled at Krafla, northeast Iceland, as part of the Icelandic Deep Drilling Project (IDDP), unexpectedly penetrated into magma (molten rock) at only 2100 meters depth, with a temperature of 900-1000 C. The borehole, IDDP-1, was the first in a series of wells being drilled by the IDDP in Iceland in the search for high-temperature geothermal resources.

The January 2014 issue of the international journal Geothermics is dedicated to scientific and engineering results arising from that unusual occurrence. This issue is edited by Wilfred Elders, a professor emeritus of geology at the University of California, Riverside, who also co-authored three of the research papers in the special issue with Icelandic colleagues.

“Drilling into magma is a very rare occurrence anywhere in the world and this is only the second known instance, the first one, in 2007, being in Hawaii,” Elders said.

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Big Oil’s Big Lies

Burning gas from Deepwater Horizon oil spill 2010-05-16Antonia  Juhasz calls foul on BP and other oil giants’ claims to be supporting alternative energy, at Rolling Stone:

Since the Gulf oil disaster in 2010, BP has spent hundreds of millions of ad dollars to cleanse its image as a dirty-energy giant. In the company’s latest TV ad, wind turbines whirl in the sun as a voiceover touts the number of American jobs created by BP and promises, “We’re working to fuel America for generations to come.” There’s just one problem: BP’s commitment to wind energy is virtually nonexistent.

In April, BP announced that it is selling off its entire $3.1 billion U.S. wind energy business – including 16 farms spread across nine states – as “part of a continuing effort to become a more focused oil and gas company,” according to a company spokesperson. Indeed, though it famously rebranded itself “Beyond Petroleum” in 2000, BP also exited the solar energy business back in 2011.

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Artificial Photosynthesis System as Efficient as Plants and Can Reduce CO2 Levels


Via DigInfo TV

A group at Panasonic has developed the Artificial Photosynthesis System, which produces organic materials with a world-leading efficiency in terms of solar energy conversion. The recently achieved efficiency, 0.2%, is on a par with that for real plants used in biomass energy.

Artificial photosynthesis is a technology that uses sunlight to produce oxygen and organic substances from water and carbon dioxide, like plants do. As an ideal technology that could solve both global warming and energy issues, artificial photosynthesis is currently being researched worldwide.

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