Extra just lately Janine Benyus has established a pair of organisations (the Biomimicry Institue and the Biomimicry Guild) which goal to advertise and commercialise the science. Biomimetic processes are circumstances the place the actual manufacturing of a product is completed as nature would do it (which is regularly very dificult to realize). A 2007 study by the Pentagon’s Nationwide Safety Space Office which included representatives from DOE/NREL, DARPA, Boeing and Lockheed-Martin discovered that a one-kilometer-vast band of space in earth orbit receives enough solar energy in only one yr (approximately 212 terawatt-years) almost equal to “the quantity of power contained inside all identified recoverable standard oil reserves on Earth today” (roughly 250 TW-yrs). As soon as it is nicely clear of the land, it can launch a 160 sq metre kite, which wind tunnel tests and sea trials counsel will tug it alongside and solar panels save 10-15% of the oil it could usually burn. Hydrogen can also be used for producing ammonia and cracking heavier grades of oil, which implies that peak oil and gas pose a variety of issues to the hydrogen dream – the first sources of current day hydrogen turn out to be less plentiful, and demand for hydrogen increases as we resort to heavier grades of oil (and coal to liquids) to keep the behavior going.
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Agassi has been selling the plan as a means to cut back our dependence on oil (the beginning premise for the challenge was “how do you run a complete country with out oil”) whereas creating jobs and boosting the native economic system (see this interview on the In the present day Show for his explanation). The basic vision is that hydrogen is used to fuel automobiles containing hydrogen fuel cells, fairly than internal combustion engines, creating no pollution aside from water. Challenge Higher Place founder Shai Agassi was in town last week saying that Australia will become the third nation to implement the group’s vision of electric autos powered by renewable vitality, following Denmark and Israel. One analyst at Useful resource Investor has predicted that we may have already reached “peak platinum” manufacturing, solar panels though this seems to be predicated on the assumption that production of hybrid and electric autos will take away the demand for each gasoline cells and catalytic converters in future years, reasonably than a agency belief in supply constraints. The flying windmills would initially get in position under their very own energy, using their motors to drive the propeller blades and solar panels helicopter upwards until they reached altitude.
Californian utilities have been signing deals with a wide range of renewable energy providers lately in order to fulfill the state’s mandated clean vitality targets – the unusual side of this announcement is that Solaren is proposing to generate the ability utilizing solar panels in earth orbit, then convert it to radio frequency energy for transmission to a receiving station in Fresno County the place will probably be fed into the grid. Like Wizard Energy and Lloyd Energy’s graphite based mostly power storage technique, Acquasol obtained an initial spherical of funding from the (now defunct) Australian Greenhouse Office’s Superior Energy Storage Technology program. These designs remind be of an Austrian scientist (if that’s the appropriate description for him) named Viktor Schauberger, who is nearly deified in some fringe subcultures and was colloquially often known as “The Water Wizard”. One other spiral based design I’ve seen just lately was this Austrian “Gravitational vortex hydro-power plant”. One other biomimicry primarily based improvement is within the Canary Islands, with a desalination plant using design techniques impressed by Namibian Fog Basking Beetles and the nostrils of camels to capture water. An important extra benefit is that methane is a potent greenhouse gas, and thus capturing it and burning it helps from a worldwide warming standpoint. The whole system would thus remain in surplus, and if properly designed could ship a continuing present.
Much of the criticism of desalination plants centres around their key drawbacks – they use massive amounts of power (ex-NSW Premier Bob Carr used to discuss with water from desalination plants as “bottled electricity”) and they will have a large impression on the native setting, with danger to wildlife from the inlet valves and from the brine that is pumped again out. The diagram above reveals that both the efficiency of electrolysis and the efficiency of gasoline cells are key elements in making hydrogen as a transport gasoline much less engaging than the electric transport option. Higher Place and Macquarie Capital Group will raise $1 billion to construct a community of 250,000 charging stations and battery exchange stations in key places alongside the east coast by 2012. The network can be powered by wind turbines owned by AGL Energy. These kinds of plans will raise the standard questions concerning the knowledge of “fermenting the food supply” and the like, so at this point it’s value taking these claims with a grain of salt.
These types of tales have continued to seem with monotonous regularity however, and not just out on the choice energy fringes – in current months I’ve seen articles in places like The brand new York Instances, The Economist, PBS’ I, Cringely, The Energy Weblog, TreeHugger and WorldChanging – many prompted by Google.org’s investment in airborne wind firm Makani Energy (a part of their program to make “Renewable Vitality Cheaper Than Coal”). Australia’s troubles with water are well-known by now, thanks to our current bout of intense drought and the affect this has had on agricultural manufacturing and subsequently on a quantity of world commodity costs – rice being the latest example. Lately a rash of desalination plants have been proposed for Australian capital cities to fulfill rising demand for water and to insure against drought induced supply constraints. We can select to consider that Superstorm Sandy, and probably the most extreme drought in many years, and the worst wildfires some states have ever seen have been all only a freak coincidence.