Sunday, February 26, 2017
Wartsila, one of the world's most important generation system manufacturing companies, points out a huge problem facing conventional generation systems around the world - dwindling water supplies for cooling. This is especially important in the case of nuclear power and in coal fired thermal powerplants. While locating powerplants on the coast in order to use sea water for cooling would help to some extent, the problem would be in investments, maintenance and more in supplying the electricity generated deep inland in different parts of the world. The problem becomes worse in capital-short countries like India that have huge problems with power. The solution, then, is to use localized sources of energy that do not require water for cooling, which means wind and solar power. Wind energy is not cheap, and it may not be practical everywhere. In regions that receive more than 4 hours of sunlight for 325+ days a year, current solar PV prices are certain to help. There would also be a need for smart grids to integrate the solar / wind power with whatever baseload source is used, but that is something that could be addressed when the wind / solar generating systems are being installed. PS I do know that water use could be reduced by using sodium or other coolants, but have to wonder about the added complexity and costs involved.
Friday, February 10, 2017
There are many articles on the internet about the proposed Hyperloop, as Tesla Motors's Chairman Elon Musk calls it. Popular Mechanics mooted the idea in the 1950s, but Musk is to be commended for reviving it, even though he isn't building a Hyperloop train himself. As this blog titles itself "Showing Fossil Fuel the Fist," the angle of reducing fossil fuel use is what makes the Hyperloop most interesting. Unlike aircraft that cannot fly without fossil fuels at today's state of the art, the Hyperloop could easily be powered by nuclear power, or bywind, solar, or other non fossil power. The ability to travel at near aircraft speeds with no fossil fuel being used in larger numbers than are typical for today's airliners, is a most interesting prospect. This blog hopes that the various teams building hyperloop trains will succeed beyond their wildest expectations!
It is interesting how US and British firms are now working hard to bring SMRs to the market, with a UK Pounds 250 million grant available from the British government to a company that could demonstrate capabilities in this area. I know from talking to a relative who is a scientist with the Indian Atomic Energy Commission, that Russia and India are working on modifying a nuclear submarine / aircraft carrier engine to achieve the same results. It will be interesting to see where these experiments go, because they will help expand electric mobility substantially in areas where solar or wind energy may not be easy to tap. Watch this space!