We are awash in energy. Sunshine is the king, the god of energy for without it there would be no energy at all on the planet Earth.
The fossil fuels we burn now? They’re mostly from dead plant matter that was kept under immense pressure for eons. And there is probably some fauna in there too, natural gas after all is probably a byproduct of decay of both flora and fauna from eons past. All of them depended on Sol to provide the light and energy they needed to grow.
The issue is extracting those resources. It’s difficult and expensive to do so particularly since now all the low hanging fruit has been picked off which results in new extraction methods. One of those is shale extraction which has gotten a boost recently. But it still won’t be enough oil to satiate world demand.
Right now we are a Kardashev Type 0 society. We use petrochemicals. But we’re on the cusp of becoming a Type 1 society, those that use all the energy resources of a planet. We’re seeing that in the solar and wind projects that are being put up all over the world.
This evening I was talking to one of the deli clerks at the supermarket about the price of gasoline. It’s going towards $4 a gallon now which is ridiculous. I mentioned that I’d heard that a group managed to make the electrolysis of water into hydrogen and oxygen run at 85% efficiency. This is a very big deal considering that current electrolysis only achieves 3-4% efficiency. If this pans out, it means you could outfit a car with it’s own electrolysis unit and the only fuel you’d ultimately need is water.
And because burning hydrogen creates a byproduct that is basically water, it’s kind of a closed loop system. That’s the other thing, why burn the hydrogen, catalyze it in a fuel cell and create electric current to run electric motors. Do away with the internal combustion engine entirely. For those out there that are gearheads I should remind you that electric motors have more power and torque available at higher efficiencies than internal combustion could ever provide. Is it any wonder railroads use Diesel-Electric hybrid locomotives?
Other energy projects include the generator that goes onto your knee and generates enough juice to power 10 cell phones, which would be about one laptop. It only generates on the braking aspect.
Solar photo-voltaic cells are also getting a boost. Research in nanotechnology has come up with a paint on solar cell that runs at very high efficiency;
I think you see a trend here. The future is electric. Electricity can be used to do so many things and can even be transformed into mechanical work at fairly high efficiencies over using other methods.
The interesting part is living through the transition from Type 0 to Type 1. Part of it is very exciting, while another part is very scary. The scariness is the fact that it will be difficult to break big business grip on us in order to move forward with inexpensive and relatively cheap energy. I’ve offered a method of doing so but it will require a massive grass roots movement to quash the oil and auto industry objections to moving toward a new way of powering civilization.
But remember, water is the key. It’s where the vast amount of hydrogen is locked up. But unlocking it, using it and then having it return to water is just too attractive not to pay attention to it.