Assorted Energy Ideas
This pathetic assortment of energy ideas are those which have occurred to me at random times, and which I remembered long enough to write down. The true range of ideas is incredibly vast. Ah, but wouldn’t it be grand to create a website where all the ideas could be categorized, voted upon, and the government could order 200,000 or 300,000, and we wouldn’t have to wait for some start up venture capital company (funded by government grants and loans) to build a plant and poke out a few thousand each year. Are you telling me that Detroit can’t produce a few hundred thousand Tango’s at $8,000 each? Are you as tired of waiting as I am for business to decide that it really wants to be more energy efficient, or, will gas need to go up to $8.00 a gallon before they get a clue?
In all fairness, the reason the private sector is dragging their feet is the fear of choosing the wrong technology, and with so many innovations coming daily, you would probably be hesitant too. That’s why Toyota isn’t kicking out a couple million Priuses next year. They are afraid of the competition coming out with a Prius killer. But this is the beauty of the system above. Use the ‘information gathering technology’ of the internet to display and prioritize the ideas. Then let popular demand show the direction to be taken. Then use the purchasing power of the government to buy in volume to get the prices down. I don’t see this as unrealistic.
In the meantime, I would like to recommend a subscription to Popular Science and visiting TreeHugger.com. When I need an “energy idea boost”, these are where I go.
• Wal-Mart to sell wind mills, hydrogen rectifiers, photo-voltaic roof arrays, and other energy gathering or focusing appliances.
Yes, I like Wal-Mart. I even have some money making ideas for them, if they will contact me (Fat Chance). In the mean time, I will use them as a metaphor for any mass merchandiser who can buy in volume so as to reduce prices to consumer levels. Home Depot, Ikea, Lowe’s, and Harbor Freight could all do this as well. The truth is, if we were to capture more of the energy currently being lavished upon us by sun, wind, rain, and geo-thermal, we could probably cut our power/heat bills in half or better. And “better” for sure if we insulated everything, used efficient appliances, eliminated phantom loads, and used programmable thermostats.
• China to produce triple hybrid commuter cars that also have regenerative braking and shock absorption. I’m thinking 200 or 300
Oh, you don’t like China? Well, I don’t like losing manufacturing jobs to China either, but with their labor being 20¢ on the dollar, I don’t see things changing any time soon. But rather than stew about it, let’s see it for what it really is: The last chance, in history of the world, for ANYTHING we choose to be manufactured inexpensively. The door will close eventually, just like it did in Japan and Korea before them. Chinese labor and standard of living will rise, and so will prices. So for now, do you really want to see the world have a better standard of living? To be able to buy efficient, inexpensive cars and appliances? Then China is the last great hope for that.
Now, don’t give me the propaganda that Chinese quality is inferior. This is not true. The Chinese can spec out a product with the best of them. If we insist good quality, we’ll get good quality. But there’s more to it than just low priced consumer goods. What about having wind turbines made at one third the cost? Photocells? Co-gen plants? (Yes, they can build a whole facility.) It is incumbent upon the government to select things that are strategically important AND which do not subvert existing American manufacturers. But having chosen wisely, all these renewable resources can be brought to bear more quickly, and we can cut down on greenhouse gases and dependence on foreign oil sooner rather than in 20 years.
• “Energy Shoes” = Shock absorbing heels that store energy.
- 3 ways - in heel air pump
- in heel piezo-electric generator
- in sole capillary action fluid pump (from flexing)
- Storage devices – Ni-MH batteries or pressure cylinders
This has probably been thought of already, but as I was reading an article in Popular Science about “energy reclaiming sidewalks”, I thought, “Wouldn’t it be better and cheaper to put the energy reclaimers in the shoes rather than in the sidewalks?” So I wrote down the idea. I don’t think it’s half bad, but I wonder how much energy will be generated. The sidewalk guy believed that you could power a whole train station were its sidewalks so equipped. Hmm…
• “Spin Back” electrical meter capability to be mandated for all new construction.
Now I don’t mean that you ‘make’ the builder and power company install spin-back meters. But I do mean have the wiring and panel so configured that it can be quickly and inexpensively connected to an in-house grid of plug-in receptacles which can easily be connected to mass-market (viz. cheap, mass-produced) energy producing devices like solar panels and wind turbines.
Or how about exercise equipment outfitted with electrical generators (!!) and plugged into same. Now there’s a thought. Stay in shape and save the whales.
• I have read of microwaves allowing seawater to be burned (but not efficiently) and cracking hydrocarbons to produce oil and gas (efficiently)(by Frank Pringle). I am thinking that if we could start separating our organic waste from our inorganic waste, that microwaves could sort or identify or convert just about anything we could throw at them. Organics could become fuel, fertilizer, or animal feed (or packaging). Inorganics could also become fuel or be reclaimed to their base components (or synthesized to make new materials) and used for remanufacture. But I have bigger ambitions, namely, mining our landfills and cleaning up toxic wastes. Microwaves, magnetic fields, atomic absorption spectrometry, and even good ol’ gravity have the potential to turn our trash into cash, and lighten our environmental load. It’s being done now. It just needs to be done more, and more research needs to go into waste remediation by these methods.
• Would someone please put the SCORE stoves on the radar screen so some of these philanthropic types can have a few million of them made
and sent to remote places in the third world (where people are still cooking over open fires). Talk about energy savings. How about a 90% increase in efficiency! Won’t that preserve a few rain
forests? As your president, if they make ‘em, I’ll ship ‘em.
PS – That sounds like clever banter, but the expense of shipping and distribution is no laughing matter.