Solar Power from Outer Space: Microwaves and Frickin’ Lasers

In order to meet our world’s rising energy needs, and to help reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, some ideas that seem right out of a science fiction novel are picking up steam with start-ups and investors. But does using satellites for energy production really make sense financially or environmentally?

Space Based Solar Power (SBSP) is an idea first voiced by scientist Dr. Peter Glaser over 40 years ago, and during times of high energy costs or crises in fossil fuel supplies, the idea keeps rearing its head. The premise is that large photovoltaic arrays can be assembled in a geosynchronous orbit at 22,000 miles above the Earth, generating electricity that can then be transmitted via microwave or lasers to Earth.

On the positive side of SBSP, power can be produced 24 hours a day, regardless of the time of year, and…Read More.

Published in: on August 13, 2009 at 10:57 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Nuclear power plants: Shaping new fuels for higher efficiency

MIT researchers have created innovative designs for nuclear fuels that will allow the cooling water inside a nuclear reactor to extract more heat from the uranium fuel. Their new fuels have channels that increase the exposed hot surface area and bumps that churn up the passing water, ensuring that fresh water is continuously brought to the hot surface, thus increasing the cooling effect. These new designs could boost the amount of energy recovered in the same volume of fuel by 30–50 percent, while reducing the cost of electricity by as much as 7 percent.

Nuclear power plants now provide about one-fifth of all the electricity used in the United States. Adding more nuclear plants—or getting more power out of the ones we have—could help us meet growing energy demand without adding to greenhouse gas emissions or oil imports.

At MIT, researchers are looking to improve both current and future plants by changing the design—or “geometry”—of the fuel inside the reactor. “We’ve had many…Read More.

Published in: on August 12, 2009 at 4:00 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Israel’s Bright Sparks Invent ‘Electric’ Road

Scientists in Israel say they have invented a way of turning traffic into electricity.

The bright sparks at the country’s Technion Institute of Technology in Haifa have developed a road that generates power when vehicles pass over it.

And they hope the technology will reduce our dependence on fossil fuels.

In a university car park, Haim Abramovich and his team run a heavy truck repeatedly over a special…Read More.

Published in: on August 11, 2009 at 6:15 pm  Leave a Comment  
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